As you may have noticed, “superfoods” have flooded our timelines and have been popularized in the media over the last few years. These buzzwords are eye-catching and are an appealing consideration for people who want to improve their health. So, what is the deal with these claimed superfoods and is their hype justified?
What is a "superfood"?
Superfoods have no scientifically accepted defintion but are generally considered by consumers as foods that are rich in nutrients and more beneficial to health than traditional foods. This means that superfoods have a rather broad and loose definition, making it impossible to classify superfoods as a single entity and it gives anyone the opportunity to include any food as one of the “Top 10 Superfoods” in a popular magazine. Superfoods lack extensive scientific testing which makes the lines extremely blurry and unregulated to consumers on what a superfood really is. Some popular superfoods that you may have tried or recognize are quinoa, kale, chia seeds, goji berries, or avocado.
Superfoods typically have some scientific research supporting their health benefits, however marketing campaigns often overplay what the research actually says. This leads to the promotion of the food with catchy headlines. Then from this stage, marketing and infomercials involve the food industry to sell these superfoods to the consumers. This extensive marketing has led to superfoods being a billion dollar industry.
The Big Picture
Superfoods at the end of the day are great for you, however many other foods that are not as heavily marketed and foods you may eat regularly may be of comparable nutrition value. Not only do superfoods blind consumers from thinking that they are not eating healthy if they aren’t eating superfoods, but that they are now ‘unhealthy” if they chose to not eat these specific foods.
The best recommendation is to focus on eating a variety of foods, because just eating superfoods doesn’t mean you will meet your nutrition requirements. Eating too much or too little of a nutrient can be harmful, so it is best to keep a variety of foods to keep our meals balanced (and exciting!). A consideration is to possibly move away from food fads, and explore individual foods and learn how to prepare and enjoy them in different ways.
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