The Superheroes of Food

Michele Buchanan
Written by Michele Buchanan

The phrase superfoods is being used more and more nowadays, but are these foods really as super as claimed, or is it just a marketing strategy used to increase sales within the food market. Nowadays the term is used by major food companies to increase food sales by marketing particular wholefoods as being healthier than others.

In 2007 due to the marketing misconceptions of superfoods, the European Union banned the word being used unless there was credible scientific research that supported the nutrient density of that food. This is because it was felt that it would be impractical for people to eat a diet based on only superfoods when nutrients are readily available from a diverse diet that includes a variety of wholefoods, fruits, and vegetables.

What is a Superfood?

The Oxford Dictionary defines superfoods as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be extremely beneficial for your health and well-being.” Some of the foods labelled as these include: Quinoa, Cinnamon, Avocado, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Grapefruit, Blueberries, Goji Berries, Salmon, and Spirulina.

Photo by Vita Marija Murenaite on Unsplash

However, what makes these foods any better than other fruit and vegetables? The truth is nothing. All wholefoods, fruit and vegetables are packed with minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals. While some foods may have a richer nutritional value than others this does not mean that foods such as Goji berries and Blueberries are any better for your health than Apples and Bananas or Quinoa is better than Brown Rice, Kale is better than Spinach or Cinnamon is better than Nutmeg etc.

Therefore, a diet based solely on superfoods is not recommended as you may leave your body in a nutrient deficiency due to the focus being on a small range of wholefoods, fruit, and vegetables. In addition, you could also become ill by consuming too much of a particular food for e.g. overeating  Salmon can cause Mercury Poisoning. This is why we should eat a range of healthy foods in moderation.

What is causing the superfood craze?

It could be said that due to the western diet nowadays consisting mainly of processed and junk foods major food industries are using healthy foods as an opportunity to increase sales by promoting them as superfoods. Creating the perception that certain wholefoods, fruit, and vegetables are better for our health than others is not necessarily correct.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

How can I eat healthier?

While it cannot be denied how important it is to introduce healthier foods into your diet it is key that you eat a diverse range of wholefoods, fruit and vegetables. For example; eating blueberries at breakfast, a handful of nuts and/or seeds as a snack, salmon with brown rice for lunch, and maybe a vegetable stir-fry at dinner including a rainbow of vegetables.  

Note from editor:

Discover the Planetary Health Diet and how you can eat more healthily and help the planet in the process.

Main photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

Leave a Comment