Can’t Pronounce That Health Food?

By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN

I love alternatives to French fries, and these Crinkle-Cut Jicama Fries with Green Garlic Sauce from my dietitian friend Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, are delicious — and only 2 SmartPoints® per 10 fries with 2 tablespoons sauce made with plain low-fat Greek yogurt (each recipe makes about four servings).

A recent survey by Earth Balance shows that 36 percent of consumers avoid ordering certain health-halo foods because they’re not sure how to pronounce them. The biggest tongue twisters included acai, jicama, and spirulina. I figured I’d give you the rundown on them:

Acai: Pronounced “ah-sae-ee,” 35 percent of consumers found this fruit hard to say. This berry comes from acai palm trees in the South American rainforest. It contains antioxidants and fiber, which, as part of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, have been shown to reduce disease risk. Because fresh acai berries can’t be imported to the U.S., check online for companies  that sell frozen acai puree that you can blend into a smoothie.

Jicama: A third of survey participants found this veggie ( “hee-kuh-muh”) hard to pronounce. A crunchy root vegetable with an apple-like taste, jicama provides fiber — supplying more than 6 grams per cup, which is more than 20 percent of the daily need for women and more than 15 percent of the daily need for men. It’s an excellent source of immunity-helping vitamin C and provides a small amount of potassium. Roast it, or cook and puree it into a soup.

Spirulina: About 33 percent of survey takers didn’t know how to pronounce the name for this blue-green algae (“spahy-ruh-lahy-nuh”). It’s typically sold as a dried powder or a flaky substance. One tablespoon is an excellent source of iron and offers 4 grams of protein. You can add a scoop of the powder to a smoothie or smoothie bowl.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Which of these foods would you like to try, and why? Tell me on Connect @amy.gorin!

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