Superfoods – aren’t they a load of twoddle?
That is literally what my wife has just said as we discussed the supposed magic properties of superfoods. The word “superfood” is thrown around a lot, whether its the properties of the Acai Berry or Pomegranate Juice or the humble Broccoli to Blueberries to Coconut Water.
At some point many foods have been touted by supplement and food companies as a somehow magical elixir or the key to easy weight-loss. These so called superfoods drive massive business as people cling on to their claims, false or not, hoping for a magic bullet – such is the nature of humans – but invariably as we probably already knew, ‘something that sounds to good to be true, probably is’ and we got done by the snake oil salesman preying on peoples ailments and pains, and an end to the suffering. But I think if we are going to cover the subject of super-foods, we need at least a definition of what constitutes a superfood.
Superfood – “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”.
Well, by that definition we literally open up the flood gates to interpretation. That definition there could be applied to nearly every single food you eat daily, very similar to how someone who has an agenda or a hypothesis can search a multitude of research and easily find the data to match his/her claims and excluding all the data that says otherwise. This is common place amongst the supplement industry as they cherry pick data to validate their hyped claims of what their latest product will do e.g. see #Herbalife or Raspberry Ketones, Juice Plus etc and you can add Aloe Vera, Body Wraps and Cleanse Plans to that list too, I know they don’t say superfood but they claim super things!
They will all show convincing research picked from somewhere, maybe even funded by themselves.
And the same thing applies to superfoods. Companies find a new food like the Acai Berry that isn’t native and hasn’t been sold here before, they simply highlight some of the positive nutritional components of the berry, hype up the beneficial properties of said antioxidants etc and point you to some research to convince you and create a “buy in” – boom! you’re sold.
Check it out below…
– Point out the pain – i.e heavy/overweight.
– Give you the cure, you can lose weight fast, fit in jeans.
– Give credence – as seen on tv: how that works I don’t know but people believe the media.
– Give you the puppy dog closure – try it for free.
Here’s another that shows you just how super it is.
Wow! Those are some bold claims.
Oh, and another…
Did Herbalife just make an exaggerated claim? Never!
But Dr. Ignarro – he’s a Doctor – He is cited more than 100 times and Ronaldo takes it… so, bothered!
(But hasn’t he also been recently promoting Coca Cola, too?).
Come on, I had to take a cheeky swing…
Oh jeeze! Not this guy!
Okay let me prove a point… it’s all about sales.
You’ve seen the Wolf on Wall Street, right?
Well I ain’t gonna sell you a pen… i’m gonna sell you a potato.
But you’ve gotta run with me on this one.
Imagine we live in a time before the discovery of the potato and instead of Potatoes we only had say Cauliflower. (I know, what an awful thought!) Don’t try telling me that Cauliflower Mash is good substitute for anything – blurgh! you’re only lying to yo’self, fool.
“The most super of super-food on the market” says DR Ozzy.
“Say hello to one of natures most nutrient dense foods, all my celebrity friends are potato crazy, Oprah bathes with them!” – The potato is taking the world by storm!
– Low fat.
– Nutrient dense.
– 50/50 fiber ratio of soluble to insoluble regulates hunger and aids digestion.
– Phytochemicals, flavanoids.
– Potatoes contain a recently identified compound called kukoamine that helps lower blood pressure.
– Contains Vitamin b6 to promote heart health.
– A good source of potassium iron and copper promoting normal blood-pressure levels.
Bake, boil, roast and mash your way to a healthier body!
Now tell me you don’t want mashed potato!?
That is just the humble potato, we simply take it for granted. But that just goes to show you how pretty much any food can be made to sound more super than others and how the properties can be used to elude to some health benefit.
Im not saying potatoes aren’t ‘super’ or that Acai Berries aren’t awesome – they both have great properties – but most touted superfoods and their claims are almost always too good to be true.
I’m just highlighting the fact that the media is a very poor choice to get relevant and trusted information about food and nutrition. Their hype can really affect our judgement and focus on the bigger picture and where you should actually be placing your focus when it come to your diet – plus you will save a truck load of cash.
If you are really interested in finding out whether a supplement or a food is indeed super find a study or find the guys who collate and study the studies. When I need further information I go to www.examine.com
With all that out the way, i’m going to point you to the list below straight from examine.com.
Take a look at these few, research and science do indeed seem to have some properties over and above that of the norm.
– From Examine.com –
Garlic has strong evidence to suggest it can improve circulatory health by facilitating blood flow, reducing blood pressure, and improving cholesterol levels. Garlic also provides antioxidant benefits because it supports the activity of glutathione, an antioxidant enzyme. There is also evidence to suggest garlic consumption may ward off upper respiratory infections. It even has an anti-cancer effect. Eating or supplementing one to two cloves of garlic a day is one of the healthiest habits you can have.
Dark berries, including blueberries, are a rich source of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties and can reduce DNA damage related to oxidation and stress.
Older people can take dark berry supplements or eat dark berries to improve memory. Though the mechanism behind this effect – increasing a growth factor called BDNF – could potentially work for young people as well, more research is needed to confirm this effect.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae with a 55-70% protein content. It is safe to supplement and provides an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect.
Studies suggest supplementing spirulina can increase bile acid blood levels, a characteristic of Gilbert’s Syndrome. People with Gilbert’s Syndrome are at lower risk for diabetes and obesity, as well as cardiovascular and neurological disease. Animal research suggests spirulina may also be neuroprotective, but studies on people are needed to confirm this effect.
Unfortunately, spirulina is the worst-tasting supplement on this list.
Leafy green vegetables contain high levels of nitrate. In fact, beets have so much nitrate, beetroot juice is a legitimate ergogenic aid and pre-workout supplement. All leafy green vegetables have relatively high nitrate levels, so picky eaters even have some wiggle room.
Nitrates also improves blood flow by dilating blood vessels. Eating nitrate sources daily will help lower blood pressure over time.
There you go. There’s a few foods that do actually have potential to be called super, but in my mind all foods have super properties and its likely that if you only ever ate one superfood you could still be missing vital nutrients. The key is a varied, balanced open minded diet – that is far more super than any super food.