Trying to lose weight?
Trying to meet nutritional demand?
Trying to improve health?
Have any fitness goal?
Whatever may be your goal, you will find superfood with huge claims. You might feel that it’s impossible to achieve any goal without those superfoods.
Do these superfoods hold such potential?
Or are they’re backed with cherry-picked research?
There’re many controversial claims that need to be explored. Stick for a while, and you will know enough to make a better decision with no external influence or hype.
So, without delay, let’s get started.
Superfood is the most popular term these days and got the limelight recently.
A simple internet search will give millions of results. Looking at their claims, it will create a vibe that it’s tough to get any result without them. These superfoods will look superior to other foods.
Let’s look at it through a marketing point of view.
Blueberry Story – From Simple Food to Superfood
In the early 21st century, government funded research marketed blueberries as a health promoting food. In 1991 National Institute on Aging and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a rating tool called Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). It was used to measure the antioxidant capacity of foods.
Antioxidants are nutrients that help reduce the amount of damaging free radicals in the body and therefore are believed to be health promoting.
Along with other food on the list, blueberries were heavily promoted as disease-fighters. Yet, science was weak behind the marketing.
Markerters listed some of the most crucial benefits. Like, it can protect from cancer, lower the risk of heart disease, and improve brain health. All these benefits were listed just referring to their antioxidants.
And here is an interesting fact…
20 years later, USDA removed the statement from their database. Instead of that, the production and sale of blueberries increased every year.
The statement by government research made a common food a superfood. Or a food of choice for millions.
Blueberries aren’t the only food. There are many more superfoods like. Other Superfood include:
- chia seeds
- goji berry
- green tea
Changing Game and Rising Concern
Superfood term was fine until they promoted unprocessed food. There weren’t many drawbacks leaving their rising cost.
But the term started to get tricky. The food industry started to market their product using the name of superfood to boost sales. In 2015, globally there was a 36% increase in the number of foods and beverages launched labeled as, it contain “superfood,” “superfruit,” or “super grain”.
Today major products are made with 2 main ingredients:
First — The actual ingredients
Second — It’s marketing
They are backed by creative-sounding scientific claims. The benefits of these superfoods aren’t proven by actual science. Estimations and huge promises are made based on their nutrient content.
Superfoods are said to protect from certain conditions but not the way they’re marketed. At the end of the story, they are only food with some additional dose of nutrients. They are good for health but not an substitute for medical treatment or medicine.
Research and Studies Drawbacks
At first look, every superfood looks promising considering.
But after a closer look, you will find tough to apply those practice. It’s because we consumes food in different than those studied in lab.
To get the actual problem, let’s look at the drawbacks.
A. Very high levels of nutrients are used:
Do you know the first characteristic of research?
A high levels of extracted nutrients are used. So you have to consume a high amount of those food and frequently to get similar benefits.
But consuming high volume of any food isn’t good. And with some case it’s not recommended.
Cocoa is considered as a superfood because of its flavonoid content. To get similar results shown in research you have to eat large of chocolate. But it comes with ingredients that are recommended to consume less.
B. Either animal models such as rats or isolated human cells are used:
Every person is different so their need and results will differ. A study on a rat or human cells can only give a rough estimation. There is no guarantee that these components will have the same effects on people when consumed in the diet.
Results on people differs considering their Diet, Genes, Lifestyle. And are many more factors in the list.
When results on humans can vary with a huge margin, how one can guarantee to get similar results that they got on a rat.
The truth behind the marketing. Favorable data are picked to fulfill the marketing campaign demand. That’s all about the flaws.
Just for a while let’s remove the hype creating term from superfood from every food. Consider every all those marketed food like other food.
A food may be the healthiest, but still, you need limited nutrients. A balanced amount of carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamin, minerals and phytonutrient. Considering the daily demand, body will dump the excess nutrient, whether it may be from the costliest and healthiest superfood.
While the excess calories will be stored. Not a good thing.
Other Healthy Foods
Diverting the budget from superfoods to other common food will give you more in less investment. You will get more good stuff, yet you’ll spend half. It’s not only about low cost, but it’s also about value for money.
A particular food may be the healthiest food on the planet, but that doesn’t mean your body gets superpowers if you eat more than you need. Depending only on superfood is like trying to make your car go faster by putting in more petrol.
You can get more or major of your daily recommended nutrients even though you don’t touch a single superfood.
At the end of the day, the body needs nutrients to provide sustained energy and protect from health problems. Get from superfood, which is costliest. Or gets from simple food, which is cheap and easily available. Easily available food turns out to be a better choice.
There is a downside with a superfood title. It make people focus on limited foods while ignoring other equally healthy options.
A variety of food provides a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals. It also prevents eating too much of a particular nutrient. In the end, it keeps the meal interesting and flavorful.
By weight — kale contains more calcium, vitamin B6 than brussels sprouts, spinach or carrots.
Kale contains less vitamin A than carrots, less iron, magnesium or potassium than spinach and less fiber than brussels sprouts.
Adding only superfoods won’t make you healthier than a balanced diet.
So, explore foods and learn how to select, prepare, and enjoy them.
Want to enjoy superfood, enjoy but don’t be distracted by over-hyped marketing.