As we draw 2017 to a close, and look ahead to 2018, we’re already stocking our cupboards with the newest and most exciting food trends. We’ve researched far and wide to see what experts are saying we’ll all be eating over the coming year, some sound appetising, others…. Not so much! Over the next month, we’ll be sharing just how you can infuse your diet with 2018’s hot list, for today, we’re discussing the first of our food trends, the rise of the super powders!
What are they?
In recent years, we’ve seen a new front leader in the health food industry. These are the super powders, ingredients that are judged to be the most nutrient rich are freeze dried and fine milled, creating a powder that can be added to smoothies, baking mixes, or sprinkled in your morning porridge.
With the huge range available, it can be difficult to know which super powder is the right one for you. Don’t fear, we are here to clear things up! We’ll discuss some of the most popular super powders, along with their touted health benefits.
This green, finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves has been touted for numerous health benefits, including boosting your metabolism, boosting vitamin intake, and complementing your diet with fibre. The powder is most frequently consumed as a tea, but can also be sprinkled on snacks, added to porridge, smoothies – and even ice cream!
Matcha converts will prescribe the green stuff for whatever ailments you may experience, but what are the scientifically proven health benefits of consuming matcha? The most scientifically supported health benefit of matcha tea comes from the amino acid, L-thiamine. This promotes a state of relaxation and wellbeing, and been found to improve relaxation, tension and calmness. Advocates of matcha tea claim that it contains five times as much L-theanine as standard tea.
No, we are not referring to the cocoa powder that you put in your hot chocolate, but you would be forgiven for confusing the two. Cacao powder, like cocoa powder, originates from the cacao bean – the difference is in how these two powders are prepared. During the preparation of cacao powder, the cacao bean is milled at a low temperature, which protects the nutrients and rich flavour of the beans. In contrast, cocoa powder is prepared by milling the cacao bean at a very high temperature, whilst this reduces preparation time, it also means that some of the nutrients within the bean are lost, and chemicals are added to the bean in order to speed up the process.
The nutrients preserved by milling cacao powder are significant, and this powder contains four times the antioxidant power of regular dark chocolate. It also contains natural mood stimulants anandamide and arginine, keeping you healthy both in body and in mind!
Cacao powder is perhaps the easiest of the powders to integrate into your diet, due to it’s chocolatey taste and versatility. This means that you can simply swap out cocoa for cacao in recipes that create chocolate flavoured cakes or beverages (as long as you remember to balance out the slight bitterness of the powder with natural sweeteners). This can also be added to your smoothie, sprinkled over fresh fruit, or mixed in to your ice cream.
Turmeric is probably the powder on this list you will be most familiar with, if you raid your spice cupboard, there’ll probably be a long forgotten jar of this rusty powder, collecting dust in the back. Recently, turmeric has experienced something of a revivial, evidenced by the fact that google searches for turmeric has increased by 75% in the past five years. Health enthusiasts have attached many health benefits to this spice, lauding it as detoxifying, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory.
We’ve delved into the research available on the quantifiable health benefits of consuming turmeric and we’ve found it…. Somewhat lacking. There has been evidence that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can ‘modestly’ reduce levels of the inflammatory proteins released by our cells, but this has been linked more strongly when individuals take curcumin supplements, as opposed to merely including additional turmeric into their diets.
The last of the powders we’ll consider, is maca powder. This is cultivated from the ancient Peruvian root crop, Maca. Peruvians have been consuming the crop for hundreds of years, as an energy tonic and fertility aid, but with the progression of modern science, in recent times, nutritionists have been better able to investigate exactly how, and if, consuming this powder can provide health benefits.
Scientific evidence on the efficacy of consuming maca powder is scant. There have been some studies that support claims that consuming maca can assist in relieving symptoms of menopause. Whilst evidence on the quantifiable health benefits is lacking, we can say that maca contains a broad range of vitamins and nutrients, and that adding it to your smoothie will give it an additional nutrient boost.