5 alternatives to trending health foods


Fashionable foods are often praised for high nutritional value, but how do they really compare to some old time favourite staples?

Trending foods can often be hard on the wallet but do the benefits outweigh the cost? We’ve done research on a selection of “superfoods” to see how their nutritional value really matches up.

Kale vs. broccoli

Comparison size: 100g

Kale is being seen more and more on supermarket shelves, to the point where some growers ran out last year. It’s certainly experiencing a popular high in health recipes, but how does it match up again the humble Broccoli?

  • Kale is 30% higher in calories than broccoli
  • Kale is 1% fat, whereas broccoli is contains zero fat
  • Equal for sodium content
  • Kale contains an extra 5% of your RDA for Potassium
  • There are 9g of carbohydrate per 100g of kale, but only 7g for broccoli
  • Kale contains 3% more of your RDA for protein (broccoli 5%), and tops the contest with 199% of your vitamin A RDA, with broccoli trailing at 12%
  • It’s a tight race for the vitamin C crown, Kale 200% RDA, broccoli 148%
  • Kale contains more iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6

Which has the cost factor?

Broccoli often comes in at around $7 for a kilo, whereas kale is more towards $14 per kilo in popular supermarkets. Kale certainly is more expensive as its popularity sores, but it probably edges out broccoli for nutritional value. Can’t decide? Here’s a recipe with both Australian cook and author, Adele McConnell.

Coconut water vs. water and a banana

Comparison size: 100g

Coconut water is often touted as the healthy answer to sports rehydration and recovery, but is it really better than an old fashioned bottle of water and a banana?

  • Coconut water contains fewer calories, 19 versus 89
  • There 0.3g of fat for the banana, and 0g for coconut water
  • Coconut water contain 4% of your sodium RDA, whereas a banana has none
  • Bananas win in the fibre stakes – 10% RDA v’s 4%
  • 100g of banana contains 7% of your needed carbohydrates, coconut water scores 0
  • Bananas are higher in potassium (10% RDA vs 7%)
  • They’re equal in protein and magnesium
  • Bananas are 3.5X higher in vitamin C
  • Coconut water has twice the iron
  • Bananas offer 10X the vitamin b-6
  • Coconut water also contains (% RDA): Zinc – 1%, Copper – 2%, Manganses – 7%, Selenium 1% Thiamin – 2%, Riboflavin – 3%, Niacin – 0%, Phosphorus 2%, Folate – 1%, Pantothenic acid 0%, Calcium – 2%

Which has the cost factor?

Coconut water is often priced at $10 for a litre, whereas bananas are around $3/kg, and water is often free – that’s over 3X cheaper. Although coconut water contains many of the electrolytes needed for recovery, there’s still a debate about its specific health benefits. This article from Body and Soul is a good place for more information.

Quinoa versus brown rice

Quinoa vs. brown rice

Comparison size: 1 cup

White quinoa now regularly makes an appearance in salads, and as a ‘heathier’ substitute in rice dishes, but just how healthy is quinoa, and does sticking with brown rice save you money? Below is a nutritional comparison of 1 cup of each, cooked and ready to eat.

  • Both high in calories, so lots of energy there: 222 for quinoa, 216 for brown rice.
  • Both low in fat: 3.6 for quinoa, 1.8 for brown rice
  • Quinoa contain 3g more protein per 100g
  • Both are low in calcium: 3% RDA for quinoa, 2% for brown rice
  • Quinoa gives you 21% of your fibre RDA, compared with 14% for brown rice
  • Quinoa also edges out brown rice for potassium, 9% RDA compared with 2%
  • Brown rice contains less salt than quinoa
  • Vitamin b3 is also more concentrated in brown rice, 14% RDA compared with 3% for quinoa
  • Quinoa is higher in folate, iron, phosphorus and magnesium
  • Brown rice contains more manganese and selenium – see this graphic for more information.

Which has the cost factor?

Organic white quinoa is priced at around $17 per kilo, whereas a 1kg bag of brown rice comes in at $3.20 – this makes brown rice over 5X cheaper. Overall, quinoa contains more nutrients, but can sure dent the wallet compared with brown rice. If you’re loving quinoa, but want to make savings, why not cook with both? Here’s a recipe from changinghabits.com.au.

Chia vs. flax

Comparison size: 2 tablespoons

Chia is big in food at the moment, but flax (or linseed) isn’t quite so popular. Both are good choices when adding seeds to your diet, and go well in breads, cereal or even puddings. Here’s the low down for 2tbsp of ground flax, and the same quantity of dried chia.

  • Chia contains fewer calories at 69, whereas flax has 75
  • Chia is also lower in fat at 4.4g versus 6g
  • They both contain similar amounts of protein – 2.3g for chia, 2.6 for flax
  • Flax contain fewer carbohydrates (4g versus 6)
  • Only 2tbsp of chia gives you 20% of your RDA for fibre, flax is just behind on 15%
  • Chia has over 2X the calcium content, more phosphorus and over twice the selenium
  • …but flax wins for magnesium, potassium, vitamin B1, folate, copper, and polyunsaturated fatty acids

Which has the cost factor?

Chia seeds often come in around $30 per kilo, whereas flax is around half this cost (or less!) Overall, any seeds are often highly nutritious and very versatile; here is a great recipe for bread that combines both.

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Agave vs. raw honey

Comparison size: 2 tablespoons

Agave nectar is often seen in dessert recipes, claiming to be a healthier alternative to refined sugar, but what about agave versus an old sweet favourite – raw honey?

  • Honey typically contains more calories, 128 versus 85
  • Honey is also higher in carbohydrate, 35g for honey and 21 for Agave
  • Honey is much higher in sugar, 34.5g against 18.6g
  • Both contain equal amounts of calcium
  • Agave contains 6.2 micro grams of vitamin K
  • Raw honey contains trace amounts of iron, potassium and zinc
  • Raw honey is also anti-fungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and contains antioxidants

Agave nectar versus raw honey

Which has the cost factor?

Agave is around $22 per kilo, and raw honey comes in at around $20-22 at the cheaper end. Agave is now stocked in the majority of supermarkets, whereas raw honey can be a little harder to find. If you’re not sure on the difference between raw honey and what’s on supermarket shelves, this article from foodwatch is a good place to start.

Which to choose? Perhaps both!

Trending foods are often less commercially available, so prices can be higher than a more common alternative. Some offer a greater amount of certain minerals and vitamins, but there is often a cheaper alternative you can buy that still offers an excellent amount of nutrition. If you’re looking to trim the shopping bill, but want to stick with the trending foods, perhaps try using some of each in your cooking for the best of both.



Author comparethemarket.com.au

Launched in September of 2012, Comparethemarket.com.au – operated by Compare the Market Pty Ltd (CTM) – has teamed up with a range of Australia’s insurance providers so you can compare some of the latest deals, in one place, side-by-side. The team behind comparethemarket.com.au have experience in insurance, comparison, customer service and digital. If this was a stuffy corporate monologue, we’d tell you that we’re a bunch of subject matter experts specialising in User Experience, Customer Insights & Online Strategies. But to be honest, it’s just as accurate (and a whole lot easier) to say that we’re a bunch of people who want to make your experience with online comparison better. We pride ourselves on the fact that we’re forward-thinking, that we share an entrepreneurial spirit, and the fact that we like to have a bit of a laugh too. We’re all a bit too addicted to chocolate, but no one’s perfect, really.

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