Superfoods is a marketing term used to describe foods with supposed health benefits, but there is no legal or medical definition for them. I can’t recall how many superfoods have come and gone, but certainly more than Emperors of China in her entire history.
Superfoods are described as “nutrient powerhouses that pack large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals”. This sounds impressive, particularly when you don’t know exactly what it means, but don’t worry nobody does.
Superfoods are super, because they are super business and selling the humble blueberry as blueberry-banana-bread gives you super calories. Apart from that blueberries are tasty and healthy but they are not super.
How can it be that in a society where nutritional requirements were never better met, where food is easily available 24-hours a day, where hygiene standards are higher than ever, that we worry more than ever about food?
Frankly I don’t know, because serious health advice is plentiful and serious criticism of superfoods, too, starting from the industry friendly US Food and Drugs Administration’s warning about false benefit claims for green tea, to statements of the European Food Safety Authority that some of the antioxidants definitely lose their beneficial properties through digestion.
The UK’s Cancer Research simply states, that superfoods don’t substitute a healthy dietician states: “the term ‘superfoods’ is at best meaningless and at worst harmful.”
Additionally we must not forget, that our bodies seem to be cleverer than we are; they don’t accept all those vitamins and antioxidants if they don’t need them, what is not needed passes through you. Superfood also has a negative environmental impact through long transport routes (think of Himalayan gogyi berries and salt) and the occupation of otherwise utilizable land.
On the other hand I recently saw two patients who were unsure whether they’re underweight. It is true that they were thin, but we are now so accustomed to obesity that our mind considers normal what is not. Check for yourself, if your tummy sticks out higher than your chest when lying on your back, you probably could do with losing a few pounds.
This is another ‘blessing’ of the 24- hour availability of food and of prefabricated meals and our lack of knowledge of what is a species-appropriate diet.
This brings me back to superfoods; according to www.womensday.com which features the 52 healthiest superfoods, most of them are actually pre-supermarket consumed foods, just like your mum used to put on the table. Just to refresh your memory I have included the sample guide of the NHS.
It shows you how much you should eat from each food group, but unfortunately it does not include daily exercise and the limits of safe drinking.