When it comes to foods that are supposed to be good for us, superfoods sit at the very top of the list - but what are they, and are they even real?
The definition of a superfood is a little vague, to say the least, and depending on which article you read and which list you look at, you’ll find dozens of foods labeled as superfoods, from simple whole foods like nuts all the way to exotic-sounding powders like blue-green algae. Over the years, the term superfood has been heavily overplayed by marketing agencies in an attempt to make new health-food products stand out from the rest, but that doesn’t mean the term is a complete hoax. Superfoods may not give you superpowers, and the term may have been created by marketing agencies and not nutritionists, but it is still reserved for an elite group of foods that provide exceptional nutritional value.
So Are Superfoods A Hoax?
Without sounding too cynical, there’s a lot of money in the superfood market, and so it’s important to know your nutrients and to do your research before spending your hard-earned cash on a food just because it has reached superfood status.
Take avocados, for example. Avocados grew to superfood stardom thanks to the new attention of influencers on social media, and before long, every health food cafe was serving some variation of avocado on toast as the ultimate healthy breakfast. Don’t get us wrong, we love avocados, and they contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, which has been proven to protect your cardiovascular system, but it’s essential to realize that they’re not the only food that can provide this healthy fat. Less Instagram-friendly foods such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, rapeseed oil, and even spread made from these oils are also good sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, and yet you won’t see olive oil or rapeseed oil topping a superfood list.
How To Be Superfood Smart
The key to making smart choices about superfoods is to take the time to understand why each superfood has been given its superfood status. Does it contain high levels of vitamin C? Is it rich in antioxidants? Is it a great source of a particular nutrient? Understanding why the food is labeled a superfood allows you to compare it to other foods that may provide you with similar benefits. Another thing to consider is the marketing power of the food. Foods such as goji berries may be nutritionally dense, but they also have a catchy name and a vivid color that translates well in photography. Being Instagram and marketing-friendly may not affect the nutritional value of the food, but it could inflate its status above other foods that may provide the same benefits.
Where To Buy Trusted Superfoods?
If you want to avoid being scammed or paying above the odds for a substandard product, it is essential to purchasing your superfoods very carefully, especially if buying online. Not every superfood website can be trusted, with some retailers purchasing cheap products from abroad and then selling them at inflated prices to make more significant profits. One way to ensure that the superfoods you are buying are real is to buy them in whole-food form rather than as superfood powders - it’s much harder to sell knock-off nuts and kale than to sell green powders.