While superfoods top health charts across the world, superfood powders have become highly popular in many Indian homes for being convenient and helping improve the health quotient of different dishes
From matcha and moringa powder to acai and spirulina, the variety of superfood powders available in the market is quite mind boggling. And to increase the nutrient factor of any meal you prepare, all you need to do is sprinkle a bit of this powder on top of the dish. These powders are nutrient-dense and have many medicinal and therapeutic properties. No wonder, superfood powders are becoming quite a range in Indian homes.
Take the case of Simonti Majumdar, PR and Marketing Communications Professional, Bengaluru who uses superfood powders to help her achieve her weight loss goals. “Having grown up on a very high carbohydrate diet, changing my choices of carbs for a healthier lifestyle was a herculean task for me. When I decided I would get fitter (healthier), I started having Indian Breads for dinner- Jowar, Bajra and Flax Seed grains mixed with Multi Grain Flour. Getting the proportion right is very important as this effects the taste and texture of the final bread. Additional to being healthy and having great effect on one’s weight, these super grains are all complex carbohydrates and they digest at a slower rate and keep me satiated for a longer duration. Over the last 3 months that I have started having this, I have lost 7 kgs and this is without any form of additional physical exercise.”
The reason behind the popularity of superfood powders is they are easily absorbed by the system and provide many essential nutrients. “The raw, natural, nutritional goodness of superfoods that are ground into perfectly palatable powders can be added to juice, smoothies, soups, sauces, yogurt, ice cream and even baked goods,” says Sidharth Bhardwaj, executive chef, JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort and Spa. These powders are mostly gluten-free and can be consumed by vegans as well.
One must try and find the organic options of these powders as there are so many different producers offering different varieties and blends depending on preferences. Swasti Aggarwal, food strategist, Foodhall adds, “Superfood powders are gaining popularity as they can be easily used in smoothies, salads and eaten with yoghurt and the like. They have a variety of nutritional benefits like acai berry is a great antioxidant and spirulina has amazing amounts of protein. Coconut is a medium chain fatty acid, which is the only source of medium chain fatty acid for our system and has amazing anti-fungal properties.” They are great for weight management and general health as well. Because of the numerous nutritional benefits and the fact that these can be used on any kind of food for added nutrition makes them popular too.
Payal Kothari, integrative and functional nutritionist, very often has clients complaining of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), where the digestion system of that person is compromised due to illness, antibiotics, junk food, refined sugars, stress or toxicity. “Kirti, 50, a lawyer by profession from Mumbai, was suffering from IBS since 20 years. I introduced spirulina in his diet with yoghurt and chia seeds. He instantly felt alive, energetic and better. Spirulina has the ability to respond fast to heal the gut and digestive tract. Consuming spirulina and chia seeds on a regular basis have already made him feel younger and his sensitivity towards foods has improved drastically.”
Incorporate the powders in smoothies, yoghurts and sprinkle over salads. A breakfast smoothie with some almond flour, one of the wonderful powders, is a complete meal in itself. People love consuming these because they are such a great source of protein, as also a high source of energy. “People love the fact that they can eat them with absolutely anything, with a dip, on your salad, smoothies etc.,” says Aniket Karia, founder of All Heart, a Mumbai based health conscious food brand. They have combined chia, sunflower, flax, pumpkin and sesame seeds and turned them into crispy crackers. They are also coming up with one version with hemp powder in it. “These crackers can be eaten just as or can be added to your morning smoothie or yoghurt, to your pancake and waffle batter. Add them to your salad for that extra crunch and added nutrition,” he says.
Interestingly, people are taken aback because of the high calorie content seen in these powders. But what one needs to understand is that all the fat that adds to those calories are ‘good fat’. These omega 3 fatty acids help decrease the risk of heart disease and lower your cholesterol levels. Dr Ushakiran Sisodia, head dietician, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, opines, “These powders can be blended with chapatti flour. Dry ginger powder, flax seeds, seasame, sweet potato and chia seeds can be used as pudding made from milk. We can make laddu out of the flour made with ragi, seasame, flax seeds, chia seeds and nuts like walnuts, almonds and chia seeds which is easy to add to foods and beverages. They can also be mixed with water and made into a gel.”
Neha Shetty, technical head (nutrition) at Reduce By Talwalkars points out that superfood powders can also be incorporated in dishes like puddings or chillas, pancakes or can be enjoyed by incorporating them in omelettes. “Depending on the type of superfood powder that you are consuming, you can choose the recipe. In fact, many of the superfood are those that we are already consuming in our daily life. Our typical Indian grains and millets like jowar, bajra, and ragi (yes these are superfood powders as millets are all superfoods) are all excellent powerhouses of nutrients but we keep looking for oats or quinoa which is been marketed in big way. Just a little focus and awareness is what is required to live healthy.”
Know your powders
Here’s a list of superfood powders that you can use in your daily meals, how they can be used and their myriad benefits:
Flax seeds have the super power of reducing heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The omega-3 essential fatty acids in flax seed lower triglycerides. Its antioxidant properties aid in fighting free radicals to help maintain the tightness of the skin. It is loaded with fiber, the soluble and the insoluble, so it helps maintain balance in blood sugar levels and keeps the colon clean.
Add flax seeds to your salad, smoothie or eat it as a mouth fresher post meals. You could carry some in a snack box to chew on during long drives or while watching a movie.
Popular for its nutrient value, it is low in calories. Its name means ‘strength’, based on its ability to provide sustained energy. Loaded with fiber, proteins, fats from omega-3, magnesium, manganese, calcium, zinc and phosphorus, this super food is here to stay. Being a powerhouse of vital nutrients makes chia seeds highly popular amongst health freaks.
It can be added to smoothies, salads, and yogurt in milkshakes.
It grows in fresh and salt water and has nutrients that have a powerful effect on your brain. It is the most powerful algae loaded with proteins, vitamin Bs, copper, iron and small amounts of many more nutrients. It has both omegas, 3 and 6 and that makes it an essential superfood for vegetarians to eat. Its anti-inflammatory properties protects against oxidation thanks to phycocyanin that gives it its blue green color. Spirulina has a different taste, so not many would enjoy it in water. The best way to consume it would be in a smoothie, soup or a berry bowl.
Known as drumstick leaves, Moringa is packed with 13 essential vitamins and minerals and 9 amino acids. Its highlight is that it’s used for its iron content which makes it a favourite with vegans. Moringa contains Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, folate and ascorbic acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc and Potassium. It is extremely low in fats and contains no harmful cholesterol. It also helps treating oedema, protecting the liver and cardiovascular system, preventing and treating cancer; helps with treating stomach disorders such as constipation, gastritis, making bones healthier, helping wounds to heal, treating diabetes, BP, Kidney disorders, anaemia and asthma.
“One can make a delightful moringa drink like a tea. This can be made by adding ½ tsp. moringa, lemon, cinnamon or nutmeg (1 pinch), honey and warm water. For people who tend to find moringa bitter, a fruit vegetable smoothie is the best place to add the moringa to mask the taste and get the benefit,” says Janvi Chitalia, Founder of Body Cocoon.
A superfood which is known for its effective detoxification, the L- theanine present in it makes Matcha a natural mood enhancer (or relaxer). It also helps to increase concentration and attentiveness. Matcha has a 20 times higher Oxygen Radical absorbance capacity which makes it an excellent antioxidant; better than blueberries, pomegranates or green tea. It is packed with antioxidant ECG. ECG and other catechins counteract the effects of free radical attack from pollution, UV rays, chemicals and other radiation and which causes cell damage. It is said to enhance energy levels and mood, whilst boosting the metabolism by supposedly 4 times. Furthermore, Matcha provides for an adequate amount of Vitamin C, Selenium, Chromium, Zinc and Magnesium.
“One glass of matcha is as good as 10 glasses of green tea. Therefore ½ tsp. of matcha powder is enough for a tea. Another interesting way to have matcha is to make an almond milk latte, add ½ cup almond milk, ½ tsp. matcha and ½ tsp. coconut sugar and nutmeg and add warm water to finish it hot,” says Chitalia.
A whole grain superfood which is naturally free of gluten chia seeds are loaded with magnesium, iron, calcium potassium and protein. Their salient feature is to have highest essential fatty acids content that is seen in any plant. They also contain a high amount of Zinc, Vitamin b3 and Vitamin b2 and vitamin b1. Additionally, Chia seeds are extremely calorie effective and are also loaded with antioxidants. They help feed healthy bacteria in the intestine which helps keep the gut well fed. Regular intake of chia seeds may reduce chronic inflammation thereby reducing uncertain distresses to the heart. Its calcium content is higher than most dairy products.
One of the best ways to have chia is in a parfait. A berry pudding is the best option. Add water, powdered oats and nuts powder and berries with soaked chia and leave it overnight. Chia seeds are a great addition to salads or soups, they can also be baked into a pudding, granola bars, oat meal cookies, or chia protein bars.
High on essential fatty acids called omega3, flax seeds reduce inflammation, enhances blood circulation and regulates cholesterol and blood Pressure levels. As flaxseeds also contain lignans and fiber it helps reduces the risk of diabetes and heart diseases. The phytochemicals present in them are absorbed by friendly bacteria in the gut and then circulated in the blood. This is how they help prevent plaque and lower LDL cholesterol. The lignans also help lower the blood sugar levels. Furthermore, the gammatocopherol present in them is a form of the antioxidant with Vitamin E and selenium that have anti-inflammatory effects.
Buy unroasted flax seeds and grind it to powder. Store this in an opaque container in the refrigerator. This can then be used as an addition to salads, green smoothie or even in soups and dals (about 1 tbsp. can be put in the soup)
These are plant based protein source that are a rich in fiber, Vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium and sodium. Hemp seeds contain 30 % fat and are rich in omega 6, omega 3 and gamma linoleic acids. It is also high in complete protein and provides all essential amino acids. It contains 11g protein for 2 tbsps of serving. It is also known beneficial for regulating hormonal imbalances and inflammation associated with menopause. Moreover, hemp is high in amino acid arginine which helps blood vessels to dilate and relax. Digestive health is known to get better because of insoluble and soluble fibre content in hemp seeds. However shelled hemp seeds may have much lesser fibre. They are great to use in snack bars with dates, apricots, figs, walnuts and almonds. They also taste great with as a salad dressing or smoothies such as raw cacao hemp or spirulina green and hemp smoothie.
A sweet yet tart relative of the blueberry, acai berries are native to the Amazon. These superberries contain a complex blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acids and are antioxidant-rich. Acai can combine well in homemade energy bars, with oats, in Greek yogurt, in smoothies as well as a salad dressing.
A Peruvian plant related to the broccoli family, maca is used to boost energy and endurance as well as increasing fertility. It is also known to improve your mood as it contains flavonoids and reduces blood pressure. Maca can be used as an additive in to smoothies for a nutty flavour. It can also be used as topping on coffee.
- Maca root
- Flaxseed powder
- Açai berry powder
- Coconut powder
- Dried blueberry powder