The term, ‘Superfood’ refers to a food that offers several desirable nutrients or is linked to the prevention of a disease. Every new year comes the announcement of the next must-have superfoods, claiming health benefits that will deliver significant advantages and ultimately aim to modify your eating behaviours in a positive way.
Interestingly, there is no agreed definition of the term ‘superfood,’ and in 2007 the EU banned the term from being used on food labels unless supported by scientific evidence. So, can we take any truth from the term, or it simply a buzzword with no real substance?
There’s no doubt that the notion of a superfood can be appealing, especially with health and well-being at the top of everyone’s agenda. Nutritionists have stressed for decades the importance of eating whole grains, vegetables and fruit as part of a balanced diet. Now we have added the word "super" to select foods, elevating them to a cape-wearing status that marketing companies have taken full advantage of. As a result, there is much confusion on what to believe and the true meaning of food is once again lost.
So how do we classify the superfoods from the not so super? In general, the term refers to foods with nutrient content will result in a health benefit above that of other foods. These foods usually contain high levels of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals. A food worthy of the title must also fill the body with as many nutrients as possible, whilst excluding any toxins like pesticides, hormones, steroids etc. Common examples that are often given the esteemed title include dark leafy greens, salmon, nuts and berries.
Now, you don’t need a degree in nutrition to know that no single food provides everything your body needs. Variety is key to ensure we are getting the nutrients our bodies need. There’s no harm in taking note of individual foods that can pack a punch on the nutrition front, however, don’t be too distracted by the latest fad. A healthy diet is less about a superfood and more about a super eating plan of foods that include all the nutrient-rich food groups. Eating seasonal foods, organic where possible, local when you can, and of course fresh is the best way to get the healthy life we want from the food we eat.