The Problem with Superfoods

Superfoods are touted as being super nutritious, but are they really that much better than regular foods?

Credit: Flickr/digiyesica

Are you eating or drinking the latest superfood? And does it really matter?

It seems as though every week a new food is being touted as the next big superfood, full of awesome goodness. But are they really all that remarkable?

Brightly coloured vegetables and fruits, fatty fish, even seaweed are examples of foods often cited as superfoods. And foods coming from exotic locations in particular seem to be candidates for such classification.

Proponents make extraordinary claims about the benefits of a specific nutrient such as a particular vitamin, mineral or phytonutrient, found in these foods. But the reality is the term superfood is best used for marketing purposes rather than describing the actual nutrient value of a specific food.

All Vegetables Start as Superfoods

Don’t get me wrong, I think any unprocessed or minimally processed fruit or vegetable is packed full of nutrition. I suppose you could say they are all superfoods.

The problem for me is that the benefits of any one particular ingredient are often widely exaggerated. I’m especially skeptical if a supplement or food product like juice is being promoted as providing some extraordinary benefits.

Superfoods Aren’t Cure-alls

I think the term superfood may cause people to think that eating lots of one specific food or, worse, taking supplements derived from that one food, will be the cure to all their health problems. And this simply isn’t the case.

Unless it’s a case of being deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral, no one ingredient or nutrient is the answer to optimal health and easy weight loss.

As Olympic team dietician Kelly Anne Erdman advised in a previous post, eating a varied diet consisting of many different coloured fruits and vegetables is best. You don’t have to eat exotic food like acai or goji berries if your tastes and budget doesn’t allow for it; you can stick to carrots, spinach, peppers, kale, nuts and other more mundane foods. Think of having a super diet versus looking for specific superfoods.