Labelling something a ‘SUPERFOOD’ is marketing genius!
A couple of years ago, we barely talked about superfoods, and now we’ve all been sucked into sprinkling Chia Seeds onto our cereals while sipping on Acai smoothies and munching on Kale Chips.
But just what exactly is a Superfood, and is there anything super about them?
What is a Superfood?
Superfoods are types of foods that are though to have special health-related characteristics due to their high content of certain nutrients. These are apparently ingredients that can help you fight stress, lose weight, lower your cholesterol, rid your body of toxins, prevent cancer and heart disease…basically there is apparently very little these ingredients can’t do!
However, very rarely will you find enough concrete scientific evidence to back up the supposed health effects of many of these foods…in fact, it’s usually just a word used by marketers rather than by any credible dietitians and nutritionists.
The Problem With the “Superfood” Craze
Marketers are very aware that products that are labelled a “superfood” will sell! Back in 2007, the EU which recognised the “health-halo” effect of this term, banned food products from using it unless it was backed up with enough
evidence that would explain to consumers exactly how it would benefit their health.Meanwhile in the UK, the NHS and Cancer Research UK shut down claims that superfoods have any medicinal qualities;
“It’s certainly true that a healthy diet can help to reduce the risk of cancer, but it is unlikely that any single food will make a major difference on its own”
It’s also important for us to recognise how the huge increase in demand for these foods (which were once obscure) can impact those in the developing worlds (where many of these products are found).
“The food fads of the developed world are not without consequences for the environment, either. Quinoa is sourced mainly from Peru, where soaring export prices have created difficulty for locals who now are having problems affording their staple food, and are using their newfound income to become more like their Coke and fries-loving North American neighbours…
…when chia seeds, goji berries and quinoa are no longer the superfoods du jour, these companies will presumably wind down and the farmers will be left to contemplate the wisdom of basing their long-term economic hopes on the vagaries of dietary crazes in rich, distant countries. The hucksters who promote superfoods will have made their money and moved on to some other weight loss or health-promoting scheme”
So my advice would be to stick to the nutrition advice that you’ve heard me harp on about – balance and moderation, plenty of colourful fruit and veggies, whole grains, proteins and of course the occasional treat 🙂
And if you really love all the latest “superfoods” (and are willing to pay the price for them) than by all means go ahead! I love quinoa salads with pomegranate seeds and chia seeds in smoothies are amazing for that extra crunch. But be careful not to get sucked into thinking that they are “miracle” ingredients, because most of the time, they’re just delicious.