We have all heard of the term superfoods and how they are supposed to radically help your body to fight off the signs of old age and diseases like cancer. However, is this actually the case and are they really the wondrous discovery that everyone makes them out to be?
What are superfoods?
There is actually no scientific definition for superfoods but it is generally accepted that they are foods that contain a high level of important vitamins and minerals. They can also be a source of antioxidants and therefore help to shield our bodies from cell damage and help to prevent disease.
Below is a list of some exotic superfoods:
Açai berries: Associated with weight loss and anti-ageing, these berries are native to South America. It is said that they can help to fight cancer and heart disease.
Goji berries: Native to Tibet and Mongolia, Goji berries contain a lot of vitamin C. These berries are supposed to boost the immune system and treat poor circulation.
Cacao powder: Cacao powder manages to provide the chocolate flavour without the guilt. It is said to help lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to the brain and heart.
Seaweed: Seaweed is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids and reduces the risk of a sudden heart attack and stroke. It is usually available at most asian supermarkets and health food stores.
More harm than good?
Although superfoods are meant to provide health benefits, there are some studies that suggest that they do more harm than good. There have been no long term studies on superfoods and a lot of people believe that if they consume them then this will outbalance other unhealthy habits such as drinking or smoking. This is definitely not the case and it is important that people do not replace a balanced diet with over-consumption of any foods, including superfoods.
Furthermore, consumers need to be aware that some of their favourite superfoods actually contain a large amount of sugar. You must be careful to buy the natural products and not products that have a high amount of added sugar which helps to preserve them for long periods of time.
For example, an average açai bowl contains around 13.5 teaspoons of sugar and therefore if you eat this on a regular basis because it’s seen as healthy, you may in fact be hindering your health.
Most of the research done into superfoods are short term and come from cell culture or animal research. The findings from these kinds of studies do not usually transfer directly to humans. We have environmental and genetic differences to the animals involved in the research so the findings can not be taken as pure fact.
The social media influence
The social media hype surrounding superfoods has also made them become all the more popular. Frequently promoted by food and fitness bloggers, many people are unaware that superfoods do not actually have any medical backing and they are often considered to be a misleading marketing term.
These so called superfoods do not actually have any more nutritional value than a standard orange or apple. However, the term “super” makes them seem as if they are in fact better.
Although it is clear that superfoods do have a certain degree of nutritional value, it is important to consume them as part of a balanced diet. Overeating any form of food is never good for you and with a healthy diet and regular exercise, it should be enough to remain healthy and well into old age.