Is Superfood More Than A Label?


From the lowly garlic to the exotic acai berries, a huge number of health professionals, nutritionists, doctors, and food experts have thrown the term “superfood” far too many times, often without solid basis and facts to back up their claims. And in today’s world, such practice is not a surprise. With more and more people becoming conscious about their health, the more companies and individuals are likely to take advantage of the situation. Many people are flocking to get their hands on any item that bears the label superfood especially if someone famous is endorsing or actually consuming it. From a business perspective, the term “superfood” is an effective marketing vehicle for any food product. But if we are to strip all the marketing gimmicks and packaging antics and go straight to the food itself, are they really super?

What Really Is a Superfood?

The claims are everywhere. But what does this label really mean?


 A superfood is a food product that can be included in a meal or eaten by itself while providing supplement-like benefits. Some superfoods are claimed to even have medicinal properties, which can lead to a lot of hype.

Unfortunately, due to the difficulty of defining a superfood, new superfoods pop up in the media as often as a super-celebrity decides to share their favorite food with their fans.

Defining a superfood

Since there are no specific characteristics that define a superfood, marketers have an easy time promoting new products.

Some vegetables, like garlic, have evidence to support their superfood status. Garlic has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, cognition, and even fight off infections.

Other vegetables, like kale and acai, contain high levels of antioxidants, but lack studies and evidence to support their effects. Instead, the high levels of antioxidants are assumed to be ‘healthier,’ and the vegetables are labeled as superfoods regardless.

‘Superfood’ is essentially a marketing term. Putting garlic, kale, and other less-studied foods in one category is not helpful for people looking to improve their diet, since the food may or may not actually be good for you.

Eating well despite marketing

Instead of seeking out specific superfoods, aim to eat at least 10 servings of vegetables a day. If you’re not a big fan of vegetables, start by incorporating more of the vegetables you already like. For example, adding peppers and mushrooms to your steak will increase the fibre, potassium, and nitrate content of the meal.

The more fruit and vegetables you eat every day, the less you need to worry about including specific foods. People that eat fewer than 5 servings of vegetables a day can consider including specific foods based on their dietary goals. For example, eating beets will increase nitrate consumption, which has been shown to improve blood flow. Kale contains indoles, which have anti-cancer properties, while cranberries or pomegranates can protect against urinary tract infections.

Ignoring marketing labels

Eating a varied diet means there’s no reason to seek out ‘superfoods.’ Acai may contain a lot of antioxidants, but so do other vegetables. The term ‘superfood’ is used primarily to sell product and generate clicks. Luckily, eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean eating the foods discussed on television.

It pays to be smart these days and not be swayed easily by commercials and celebrity endorsements. Superfood may be real or not. But the thing about nutrition is that you never ever get it from just one source. Eat smart and eat right and you will see that all the nutrients you need can be acquired with a healthy serving of salad greens and an apple a day.

Source: What Really Is a Superfood? – Men’s Health


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