Superfood or Supercrap?

by Khushboo on January 13, 2012

Chances are you’ve heard about superfoods. Marketers positions these foods with a promise to deliver more health benefits than a magic genie in a bottle While I definitely have made an effort to eat more of foods touted as ‘superfoods’, I also think the whole superfood phenomena is a marketing gimmick…i.e. kinda full of crap.

Firstly the term ‘superfood’ has no legal definition behind it. Put it simply, ‘superfoods’ carry high levels of a particular nutrient. Some we’ve been eating for years like oats, eggs & blueberries whereas others have only recently gained popularity such as wheatgrass, acai berry, and kefir.  The idea that a single food contains extraordinary benefits is what entices consumers, including myself. While there’s no denying these food are fab, I do not think they are the be all end all. Firstly there is no evidence that eating these foods will help you lose weight, reduce of cancer, boost brain power, or turn you into a better athlete…at least not singlehandedly.

Secondly, certain ‘superfoods’ carry hefty price-tags. Consumers are willing to pay more for a product that is superior especially if it has alleged super health benefits. While they do carry several benefits, they also reek of marketing. Despite their elite status, I don’t think beans, broccoli, and salmon are ‘above’ other foods. Personally, I think it makes much more sense nutritionally and financially to buy a selection of fruit and veg for £5, rather than spending it all on one packet of goji berries. Especially as the superfood hype is often unsubstantiated – a couple of florets of broccoli or a tablespoon of spinach contains more Vitamin C and folic acid than a shot of wheatgrass juice.

While it may sound like I’m knocking the superfood phenomena, I’m not entirely. I am going to keep eating superfoods. For the most part, I enjoy their taste and I reap the benefits. However I am not going to only limit my diet to only eating these alleged superfoods. We are surrounded by super-foods, we just don’t realize that’s what they are called. Go to Google and try this: Cancer + (pick any fruit or vegetable). Amazing right?

On that note, here are some of the ‘superfood-but-not-listed as superfood’ fruits & vegetables I’ve been eating lately:

  • Roasted Curried Cauliflower

  • Honey Mustard Mushrooms

 

  • Taco Filling
  • Apple Cooked in Cinnamon

Neither of these F & V “make the cut” as a superfood but that list can suck it.  Every fruit & vegetable is inheritantly good for us.   As long as we eat a huge variety, we will reap maximum benefits, superfood or not!  Eat a superdiet, not a superfood!

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Parita @ myinnershakti January 13, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I like to think of any nutrient dense food as a superfood. I think it’s fine to splurge on so called “superfoods” every now and then but it’s much easier and cheaper to make quality meals at home with simple, clean ingredients. And every superfood list I’ve been seeing lately talks about fruits, veggies, nuts, yogurt, and PB as the must include foods in any diet – woot…I already do that!

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Love your outlook and completely agree! I won’t lie that I do sometimes overspend on certain ‘superfoods’ but for the most part, I try to stick to high quality, nutrient-dense, and easily accessible foods!

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Alexandra January 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm

“As long as we eat a huge variety, we will reap maximum benefits, superfood or not!” Yes! I agree! :) I think variety is key to having a healthy diet and happy tastebuds. Love the apples and cinnamon concoction!

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm

“and happy tastebuds”–> true story!

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Andrea @ Andrea out loud! January 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Honeymustard mushrooms!!! That sounds delicious!

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm

They are..especially as mushrooms are rather ‘meaty’!

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Nada (One Arab Vegan) January 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Love this post! I completely agree – the idea that any one food is magically superior just doesn’t make sense. The Food Hospital on E4 did a segment on “superfoods” a few weeks back and I was hardly surprised to learn that it’s just a term coined by marketeers.

Ps. roasted curried cauliflower sounds delish!

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Ohh thanks for the mention about the The Food Hospital segment…going to see if I can catch it online!

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Tessa @ Amazing Asset January 13, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Great post lady! I agree with that you are saying here… there is not one food that is going to make all of the magical difference for you. Like that whole thing with acai berries way back? Uhhh nope, they will not change you into superman. Good for you of course, but not much better than blueberries, raspberries, etc

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Acai berries still remain a mystery to me!

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Tracy's Treats January 14, 2012 at 3:34 am

I’m with you! As long as you eat a balanced, varied diet, I think that you should be able to get all your nutrients! Anyways, I feel like almost every website that says something about superfoods has their own versions of what are superfoods! We’re best eating it all!

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:32 pm

So true…there are so many different “10 Superfoods You MUST eat”…rather than wonder who is right, just eat it all in moderation!

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Gayatri January 14, 2012 at 5:38 am

Those cauliflower pieces & mushrooms look delicious! Acai berry is a joke. I used to read a lot of healthy living bloggers in the US but stopped eventually because of the crazy ingredients they use in their food. As much as I’d like to be thin, I am not going to spend 100s of dollars on powders and shakes and protein things. Tofu, veggies and desi pantry staples can do the same thing!

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Totally agree with…there is a limit to how much you can invest in your health. More than even the cost, it’s just not practical for me to regularly cnosume powders/etc in terms of availability- there is only so much food I can (want to) bring back! Life is so much easier eating what’s freely available in the city I’m in!

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Sig January 14, 2012 at 7:53 am

Great post! I think the word ‘superfoods’ is a bit hyped up and you can definitely get the same benefits from other, not-so-frustratingly-difficult-to-find-and-expensive ingredients!

A balanced, nutritionally varied diet will always be good for you – without the superfood hype.

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Exactly…our ancestors seemed to get on just fine before all this hype was introduced!

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Patty January 14, 2012 at 9:50 am

LOVE this post. I hate hype and it’s often hard to sift through all the BS. Thanks for sharing :)

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm

BS is right! Glad you enjoyed reading this post :)

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honeywhatscooking January 14, 2012 at 9:57 am

Agree, balance is key. I definitely fall for that marketing gimmick too. These days I’m into Chia Seeds, anything that will help me look younger, bring it on. I think everything in balance is key. :-)

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I love chias, especially in oatmeal!

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jojo January 15, 2012 at 4:21 am

Although some fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals, it is still understudy AND I agree, eating one fruit/vegetable is not going to result in weight loss or cure diseases. It’s always combination of things like eating a balanced diet, exercising, etc.. There are so many vegetables, fruits and spices that are beneficial to our body, not just the ones that made it to the “super food list” ! :)
By the way… I love curried cauliflower!! You may have given me an idea for what I’m cooking tonight for dinner ;)

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Curried cauliflower is my current favorite way to eat cauliflower- can’t get enough of it!

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Simply Life January 15, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I think this is a great thing to point us and encourage us all to think more outside the box!

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm

In terms of veggies, thinking outside the box goes a long way!

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Ameena January 15, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I totally agree. I get so tired of hearing the new “in-food.” Goji berries are at the top of that list!

Eating a well balanced diet doesn’t have to be so hard…marketers make it seem that way though!

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm

I am yet to try goji berries…call me crazy but I would rather buy 2 boxes of fresh berries over 1 packet of goji berries!

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Alexiasana January 15, 2012 at 10:27 pm

this is a great post on superfoods and a lot of people mistake the actual meaning of it. It is definitely more important to eat a “super diet” and rely on fresh produce like veggies, fruit, beans and grains than splurging on “super foods”. it has become such a trend though that we often cant resist them! and to be honest, i do enjoy a green juice with a shot of wheatgrass.

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Khushboo Thadani January 15, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Ah I could drink more than a sip of wheatgrass before my gag reflex kicked in! More power to you that you enjoy it :D

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onehealthymunchkin January 16, 2012 at 7:34 am

I love your point in this post – I totally agree! It’s so ridiculous to spend $20 on a small bag of something like maca powder (when I saw its price at the store I was like “Are you kidding me?!?”) when you can get similar benefits just by eating other more common, normally priced foods.

That being said, I do love flax and chia seeds because they’re such an easy way to get omega-3′s every day. I guess we just have to pick and choose which “superfood” trends we buy into – because I’m pretty sure I’d go broke if I tried to buy them all! :P

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Khushboo Thadani January 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Good point- I definitely do pick which few ‘superfoods’ I want to splurge on…chias and flax are definitely amongst those! I eat them daily and feel so much better so it definitely is worth paying that little bit extra.

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beautyinthebalance January 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm

A “superdiet” sounds much better to me than a “superfood”! And you’re totally right about “superfoods” being waaay more expensive than normal foods! It’s not cool!

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Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons January 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm

If its packed with nutrients and a whole food — its a superfood to me! =) I think cauli and broc are entirely overlooked and so are many others! and some of the stuff they highlight may not be very SUPER when its eaten out of season so — i’m totally with ya girl!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

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Khushboo Thadani January 18, 2012 at 11:20 am

Glad you agree :) !

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Kiran @ KiranTarun.com January 19, 2012 at 4:54 am

I am all about eating well balanced, clean and fresh foods. I try to buy seasonal produce all the time. I love your approach on superdiet (eating well balanced meals) and not focus just on superfoods, often over-glorified by marketers :D

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Khushboo Thadani January 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

Over-glorified = perfect way to describe them!

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Haylee Ockerman March 3, 2012 at 1:00 am

I do love the goji berries, but I never notice an amazing difference. I can see how it will have a bit more nutrients but I don’t think it has what they market it to have.

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