Activate Your Nuts! 3 Popular Super Foods Debunked

Ever wonder if Superman would still be so super without his fancy suit?

Well firstly, stop picturing Henry Cavill naked. Secondly, it seems people are starting to catch on that superfoods*^ are just normal foods with a fancy label.

Here’s a few so-called “super” foods that you might be wasting your money or time on.

Activated Almonds

‘Activating’ nuts refers to the process of soaking them for 12-24hrs to start the germination process (like sprouting) and then drying them out over 24hrs in a dehydrator or 40-degree oven. I don’t know about you but I was hungry for nuts 2 days ago.

Stop drowning me, I don’t like it!

So where’s the science at? Pro-activators like the idea of reducing the phytate levels to potentially improve the absorption of certain nutrients in the nuts. This may be the case, but although it loses points for getting in the way of a few minerals, phytate gains points for being an antioxidant which can be useful in protecting against cancer and inflammatory diseases.

The “activation’ process also converts some of the starch to simple sugars and some of the proteins to amino acids. There is a thought that this make nuts easier to digest. This conversion acts like a form of mini processing outside of the body, reducing the digestion work we have to do ourselves.

Here at OnCore, wherever possible we prefer our bodies to have to do the breaking down (and burn the kilojoules in doing so)!

(Of course, if you have allergies or intolerances it’s always best to get tailored advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian so you get the most out of your food!)

Soaking can also remove the almond skin which contains useful fibre.

Regardless, the verdict is out on the science front. Even the ‘Nuts for Life’ association, who would be undoubtedly keen to find it, have been unable to find any scientific evidence proving that “activation” improves the nutrition or digestibility of nuts.

So you can either pay an ‘almond a leg’ for someone to do it for you (up to $100/kg) or explain to your housemates why the electricity bill skyrocketed and the oven smells so delicious. Or you could just buy normal raw varieties at about one tenth of the cost! And then go and think of another way to activate your nuts.

Kale

No more super than your average veggie

Ever served kale chips to your friends? Have to smother them with seasoning to get them to taste like anything? Sorry girls, I promise I’ll contribute something better next time. But we felt good about ourselves right? Don’t get me wrong, I love kale as much as the next person but it’s definitely had a moment in the spotlight.

If I had a dollar for every Mediterranean woman that asked me why everyone is going to crazy over the vegetable that she’s been putting in her soup for decades, I’d have at least 14 dollars. Kale has been around for years, we just got hyped up about it recently (and the kale farmers are loving it!).

Nutritionally, kale is packed full of vitamins and minerals (vitamin K, vitamin A (beta carotene), vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, manganese, potassium, magnesium) while being low in kilojoules. It also contains phytochemicals that can be protective for our health. AKA, it’s full of “Aunty-who?’s”. It’s an ideal vegetable to add to anything you possibly can, as often as possible, until you can’t stand the sight of it.

In saying that, the nutrient profile of kale isn’t that different to other dark green leafy vegetables. And the best health benefits and food enjoyment come from eating a rainbow. So if kale is Superman, then carrots are Batman, tomatoes are Wonder Woman, capsicum is Spiderman, and broccoli is The Hulk.

Eat them often and don’t discriminate.

Steel cut oats

Steel cut oats are different to rolled oats in the way they are processed. The infant oat or ‘groat’ is cut into little pieces with a steel cutter rather than steamed and pressed to form rolled oats. Despite the superman title, the difference is teeny tiny. Steel cut and rolled oats have essentially identical nutrient profiles. The only difference is a miniscule 2 point difference in glycaemic index (GI) depending on who you ask (GI is a measure of how quickly our body absorbs carbohydrates and the subsequent impact on blood sugar levels).

The other difference is in the cooking and texture. Steel cut oats take longer to cook and have a chewier texture and nuttier taste. Oh and the cost. Steel cut will set you back about $6.60/kg and rolled about $2.20.

Cha-ching!

Yes, they have a cool name. No, they aren’t worth the extra money.

Summary

Bottom line, if you’re concerned about your diet or nutritional status, seek advice from someone with a lot more tertiary training and a lot less financial motive than Dr Google or the health food shop – an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). Stay tuned for more OnCore Nutrition tips to come.

* Anyone who uses the term superfood in front of me gets slapped with a 200g chicken breast

^ Fun fact: marketing of products as superfoods has been prohibited in the European Union since 2007 unless accompanied by sufficient credible scientific evidence. Amen to that!

T A I L O R  Y O U R  P L A T E   |   B U I L D  Y O U R  B E S T  Y O U 

Lauren Atkins

Accredited Practising Dietitian

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2018-03-24T05:32:41+00:00