Sprinkling superfoods. It may sound faddy and it’s certainly backed by some fad-sters, but is there something in this trend? In fact, adding a little sprinkle of certain superfoods can add not just flavour and texture to your meals but also provide some proven health benefits that you might not even have considered. My nutritionist pals are at it, and I generally agree with all their healthy eating habits. That said, sprinkling superfoods is only part of the picture, what is even more important is what you are sprinkling on! Be sure to eat a balanced diet, combining good quality protein at every meal, plenty of fresh and locally grown seasonal fruit and vegetables, and drink lots and lots of water!
Here are some of my favourite superfood sprinkles, and some of those benefits you can start reaping today!
Cinnamon helps lower blood sugar levels, can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin and may help negate potential weight gain caused by blood sugar imbalance. A review of published papers has even pointed to the fact that cinnamon may be beneficial for the treatment of type II diabetes. Cinnamon is frequently overlooked as a superfood, but if you look through South American and Mediterranean cultures you can see that these folk have known how to use cinnamon for years. Cinnamon sticks in coffee, pisco sours sprinkled with cinnamon, lasagne and cannelloni lightly spiced with cinnamon; all foods and drinks that can disrupt our blood sugar and hormone levels.
Top tips for cinnamon: Add to your coffee or hot chocolate, puddings, pastries, cocktails and definitely those cheesy sauces!
Not sure about the combination of cinnamon with your favourite foods? You can also buy cinnamon in supplement form.
Besides from helping you with blood sugar regulation, cinnamon has a multitude of health benefits including heart protection, anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, brain function, and may even possess anti-carcinogenic properties!
Spirulina contains lots of iron as well as a cocktail of antioxidants and vitamins, including vitamin B12 and vitamin K (the forgotten vitamin!) A superfood with many health benefits. Spirulina was a traditional foodstuff of the Aztecs and the Kanem. This microscopic equatorial algae is now mostly used as a dietary supplement, but brand Gourmet Spirulina offers spirulina superfood in various convenient food formats with great taste. Choose from nibs, crunchies, petals and flakes.
A research team found that one of spirulina’s key phytochemicals, phycocyanobilin, one of several unique blue pigments in spirulina, inhibits the activity of several damaging compounds in tobacco smoke in vascular tissue and the lungs.
Top tips for spirulina: add to your salads, sprinkle on your soups, but for something a bit more out there try on your dark chocolate desserts! Trust me, it really works! The bitterness of the chocolate blends with the spirulina and it just tastes of chocolatey goodness.
Again, you can always buy spirulina in pill form if you can’t hack the taste.
High in fibre, flax is definitely one to consider if your pathways of elimination are a bit backed up 😉 Flax is native to the Middle East, and has been used for centuries as a food, medicine and for textiles. Although you can buy ready ground, this format can oxidise and lessen the health benefits, so it is, therefore, better to buy the whole seed and grind yourself.
One paper has suggested that supplementing a healthy diet with flax can help with weight management. There are even some indications that flax, which is rich in phytoestrogens, may decrease the risk of hormone-dependent cancers.
Top tips for flax: sprinkle on yoghurt, salad, soup, cereal, smoothies, even your pancakes!
Try: Barlean’s Forti-Flax – which are cold milled to minimise oxidation.
Chia seeds, besides from their omega-3s, contain vitamins A, B, E, and D and minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, silicon, sodium, sulphur, thiamine, and zinc. Also just like flax, chia seed are high in fibre.
If you are an athlete, you may wish to consider a little sprinkle of chia. The micro but mighty seed was the original food of Aztec messengers. The gelatinous external layer slows your body’s conversion rate of carbs to sugar, which means sustained energy levels for longer. That said, a study showed no positive effect of chia seed consumption on the performance of endurance exercisers although plasma ALA levels were raised. With ALA being a potent antioxidant, this backs up to some degree the findings of another study that chia seed consumption reduced oxidative stress in vivo.
Chia can also hold 12 times its weight of water, so when you are not sprinkling a chia pudding is a great way to rehydrate!
Top tips for chia seeds: like flax, chia is pretty versatile! Add some crunchy texture to your porridge, cereal, pasta dishes, smoothies and salads.
Try: Nutiva Chia Seeds
 “Carvedilol and spirulina may provide important health protection to smokers and other nicotine addicts: a call for pertinent research” in Missouri Medecine 2015 Jan-Feb;112(1):72-5.