NHS researchers have been gathering all the evidence behind the claims of ten of our most popular ‘superfoods’ of recent years. We sum up the results for you here.
There is no absolute definition of what a Superfood is. The EU has actually banned the use of the word on packaging, suggesting that maybe it is just all a marketing scam. Nevertheless, many food brands are still funding academic research to highlight the health benefits of their particular product.
The trend of the Superfoods basically exploits the fact that certain lifestyle choices, such as diet, can massively reduce our risk of chronic diseases – such as cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
The term ‘super-diets’ has recently taken the place of ‘superfoods’ amongst dieticians, the reason being the emphasis now appears to be on a healthy, balanced diet, rather than on a single food being capable of cancelling out all the negative aspects of our lifestyles. The food industry aims to convince us, the consumers, that certain foods have the ability to slow down the ageing process, to combat depression, or to improve our physical ability and/or intelligence.
Most of us are easily swayed by this idea; we like to believe that eating a single fruit or vegetable containing magical antioxidants will revive our contaminated cells.
The problem is, most superfood research involves testing the super ingredients in unnaturally high amounts, i.e. amounts not found naturally in fresh food. For example, there is a nutrient found in garlic which is believed to help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, but in order to match laboratory research and genuinely benefit from this, you would have to eat 28 cloves of garlic each day. Unsurprisingly, no researcher has gone to such lengths as yet.
In recent years, the term Superfood has been attached to any food containing relatively high amounts of antioxidants and/ or Vitamins A, C E, flavanoids and selenium, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Antioxidant means a chemical that is thought to protect our bodies from the harmful effects of the free-radicals that cause cell damage. Some research is inconclusive, and it has been suggested that antioxidant supplements could actually be detrimental to our health (these should generally be avoided for now). It is widely known that obesity and alcohol are the two most common causes of chronic illness and shortened life span.
Believing that you can reverse the damage done to your body from years of bad food and or alcohol consumption by eating a single food is likely to prevent you from changing your lifestyle for the better, and for good. However, certainly by including the well known ‘Superfoods’ in your every day diet, you will be on the right path towards a healthier and happier life.