5 Low-FODMAP Superfoods For Gut Healing
Superfoods are whole foods that are antioxidant-rich, minimally processed and nutrient dense. They don’t have to be hard to find, exotic items sourced from South America. My top 5 superfoods can be found in most grocery stores and if consumed often can help create a healthy gut. Here they are, all equally important:
- Leafy Greens
- Hemp & Chia Seeds
- Cilantro (or parsley)
Dark greens, such as kale, collards, spinach and bok choy, are filled with antioxidants and polyphenols. Both feed our “good” gut bacteria. This helps strengthen our microbiome as well and reduces inflammation, cancer risk and heart disease.
Low-FODMAP Serving Size: 1+ cups of kale, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, butter lettuce, spinach and swiss chard.
How to Eat: Enjoy 1-2 servings of steamed or sautéed leafy greens every day. Try this Kale, Potato and Sausage Soup from Fun Without FODMAPS.
Hemp & Chia Seeds
These seeds are small but potent. Both are rich in omega-3 fats that reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. Hemp also contains gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) which can alleviate skin disorders and may be helpful in weight loss. Both contain fiber to feed a healthy gut and reduce blood sugar surges as well as high sources of plant protein. On ounce of hemp seeds provides 9 grams of protein!
Low-FODMAP Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons chia and hemp seeds.
How to Eat: Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of hemp seeds on a salad, over berries or roasted vegetables. I also make a low-FODMAP hemp “Feta” cheese with 1 cup of hemp seeds.
Before eating chia seeds try soaking them, you can add them to baked goods, puddings, smoothie bowls or as a binder in meatloaf. To soak chia, mix 1/4 cup of chia seeds in 1.5 cups of water in a glass container. Secure with a tight lid and shake well. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Try this delicious low-FODMAP Vanilla Maple Chia seed pudding from a fellow dietitian.
Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are all antioxidant-polyphenol rich low-FODMAP choices. They provide similar benefits as dark leafy greens as mentioned above, most notably diversifying our gut bacteria. For example, wild blueberries have increases bifidobacteria in the gut, which, in abundant amounts, has been shown to alleviate gas, bloating and pain in IBS. Regardless of the benefits, berries are delicious.
Low-FODMAP Serving: 20 blueberries, 10 raspberries, 10 strawberries. Blackberries and boysenberries are not low-FODMAP.
How to Eat: Eat 1-2 low-FODMAP serving per day. I prefer to eat fresh berries drizzled with coconut butter and sprinkled with cacao nibs. If you are looking for a treat try a Strawberry Crumble from Karlijns Kitchen.
Cilantro or (Parsley)
Fresh cilantro, or coriander as it is called in the UK, is high in antioxidants, can settle an upset stomach and has antibacterial and anti fungal properties. It can safely detoxify the body by chelating, or binding to heavy metals.
If you don’t like the taste of cilantro try parsley. It isn’t as potent as cilantro but provides similar benefits.
Low-FODMAP Serving: No detectable FODMAP so enjoy in abundance.
How to Eat: I eat cilantro (or parsley) every day and recommend you do as well. The easiest way to consume this potent herb is to make a cilantro pesto which can be served with vegetables, baked potatoes or roasted meats. Try these Eggplant Rounds with Cilantro Pesto from My Gut Feeling.
Kefir is a fermented milk popular in Eastern Europe that can restoring healthy gut flora. Kefir cultures at room temperature and can colonize the digestive tract unlike yogurt which is transient. Kefir contains many more strains of bacteria than yogurt and is also easier to digest.
I personally prefer goat’s milk kefir and find it easier to digest. Goat’s milk has smaller fat globules and A2 casein, a protein most similar to human breast milk. It has comparable amounts of lactose as cow’s milk but when cultured with kefir grains, lactose is reduced about 99%. If you are lactose intolerant you still may be able to tolerate regular kefir. If not, lactose free kefir is available by Green Valley Organics in the USA.
Low-FODMAP Serving: 1 cup lactose free kefir. Regular kefir is not low-FODMAP due to lactose but it may be tolerated up to 1/4 cup serving.
How to Eat: I recommend 4-6 ounces per day, preferably first thing in the morning or before bed. If you drink it before bed it has the potential to contribute to deeper sleep. Blend a cup of plain kefir with 1/4 cup of berries and a dash of cinnamon for a refreshing drink.
Superfoods are whole foods that are antioxidant-rich, minimally processed and nutrient dense. They don't have to be hard to find, exotic items sourced from South America. My top 5 superfoods can be found in most grocery stores and if consumed often can help create a healthy gut. Here they are, all equally important: Leafy Greens…
WHY YOU CAN BELIEVE THE HYPE ABOUT HEMP
The many properties of hemp have long been known. Now it’s going mainstream the time is definitely right to enjoy the plant’s amazing versatility and health-giving benefits.
Read on and you’ll learn:
• How hemp and hemp seed oil will benefit your health
• Why hemp is not the same as marijuana
• The heart and skin health benefits of hemp products
• How to use hemp best when cooking
There’s no doubt about it, hemp is the hot ingredient of 2019.
It’s in dozens of new food products; it’s popping up in everything from burgers to smoothies, as well as protein powder and hemp hearts, and in its more natural form as hemp seed oil.
The commercial growing of hemp is starting to increase around the world as many countries change their rules and regulations, allowing it to be legally grown. It’s predicted the global hemp-based food market will be worth over US$4 billion by 2026.
Hemp is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant. It’s been cultivated for thousands of years for its fiber, edible seeds, edible oil, lubricant, and for use as a fuel.
But it’s that mention of Cannabis that sometimes makes people nervous – even though nothing we eat made from hemp will get us high. Hemp is quite different from the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing marijuana. It’s harvested from a non-psychoactive variant of the Cannabis plant.
Hemp is quite different from the tetrahydrocannabinol-containing marijuana… Nothing we eat made from hemp will get us high
So hemp-based food products shouldn’t be confused with CBD-based products, which do have psychoactive properties. Some CBD-based foods are also marketed with the term hemp in their names, which can be frustrating for consumers. It’s important to scrutinize the labels on anything labeled ‘hemp’, just to be sure you’re getting what you think you are.
Promoters of hemp call it a wonder plant. It can feed, clothe and house us all at once, they say, because it can be used to make textiles, building material, medicines and food. It’s a highly sustainable crop as it is ‘low input’, requiring no fertilizer, pesticides or water.
You’ll also hear talk of hemp’s health benefits.
Hemp seeds (sometimes called hemp hearts) are high in health-promoting omega-3 and have a good balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats fight inflammation and have heart health benefits, and because of hemp seeds’ particularly healthy fat profile, research into hemp’s health benefits looks promising. Several animal studies have found hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure , decrease the risk of blood clot formation and improve heart health .
It’s important to note that the omega-3 in hemp – like all plants – is different to the omega-3 we get from oily fish. It may be more difficult for our bodies to process and absorb this type of omega-3, and we need more of it to get equivalent benefit compared with fish oils. But if you’re not into fish, or are vegetarian or vegan, hemp seed oil could be a useful way to get omega-3 into your diet.
Hemp seeds are gut-friendly – they’re a low-FODMAP food and a good option for anyone prone to Irritable Bowel Syndrome
There’s also some interesting research looking at the effect of hemp seed oil, when consumed, on skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema , that’s found a positive effect here too.
However, the oil is not suitable for cooking with – it has a low smoke point – so it’s best used for dressings or finishing. It also has a fairly strong, nutty flavor, which you may find is an acquired taste – so dressings using other strong flavors such as balsamic vinegar will balance that out.
Hemp seeds are especially high in protein compared to other seeds. This is why they’re often made into protein powders. Hemp is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. This is fairly rare among plants (quinoa is another example) and makes it useful for anyone not getting much protein from animal sources.
If you’re looking for a plant-based post-workout protein powder, hemp is a little lower in protein than other plant proteins like pea or soy, but it is quite a bit higher in fiber, which is a useful bonus.
It’s in the area of fiber, in fact, that hemp might be particularly good for us. The whole, unhulled seeds are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which have proven gut and heart health benefits. Hulled seeds (hearts) have less fiber, but are easier to eat.
Most of us could use more fiber in our diets to get to 30 grams a day, the level where serious health benefits kick in. The fiber content in the seeds available for sale seems to vary a bit, which may depend on how much they’ve been processed. If you’re thinking of trying hemp seeds, compare labels and go for unhulled, higher-fiber types.
As with other seeds, hemp seeds can be added to all sorts of dishes: try them in cereal, salads, smoothies and baking.
If you’re prone to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it’s worth knowing that hemp seeds are gut-friendly – they’re a low- FODMAP food so shouldn’t aggravate a grumbly tummy.
When it comes to hemp-based treats, it’s worth being circumspect. Hemp chocolate, bliss balls and sweets are probably not health foods. As with anything else we see promoted as ‘super food’, eating hemp in a product that also contains tons of sugar and saturated fat tends to counteract any possible benefit.
But in its whole and oil forms, hemp is an ancient food that’s well worth getting to know again.
Niki Bezzant is a New Zealand-based food writer, editor and commentator. She is the founding editor (now editor-at-large) of Healthy Food Guide magazine, and is currently president of Food Writers New Zealand and a proud ambassador for the Garden to Table program which helps children learn how to grow, cook and share food. She is a member of the Council of Directors for the True Health Initiative , a global coalition of health professionals dedicated to sharing a science-based message of what we know for sure about lifestyle and health.
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Find out the health benefits of hemp, how hemp is different to marijuana, why it’s a great source of fiber and how to use hemp best when cooking