Do you get sucked in to headlines claiming a food is going to cure all your ailments? Do you make sure your shopping basket contains lots of so-called “superfoods”? Do you even know what a superfood is?
In the past few years there seems to have been an article every week claiming a food is the new superfood. Sometimes you’ve probably been eating it for years, other times it’s a food you’ve never heard of.
There’s so much hype surrounding superfoods, but there’s actually no legal definition of what one actually is. However, the idea that a single food can offer extraordinary benefits captures the imagination of journalists and consumers. So what elevates these foods to the “super” status?
Too much can be toxic
Supposed superfoods are usually foods that have a high level of a particular nutrient – blueberries, broccoli and salmon to name a few.
But what most of these articles don’t tell us is that our bodies have a finite requirement for each nutrient. If you consume more than your requirement, your body will expel it – excess Vitamin C is excreted in urine as your body can’t store it, for example.
In some rare instances an overload can cause damage – excessive consumption of the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, or iron, can be toxic. Plus, women and girls planning to have children shouldn’t eat more than two portions of oily fish a week due to pollutants found in the fish.
Eat a good variety
Superfoods can also carry hefty price-tags. Yet, 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.
It’s worth pointing out that you get different vitamins and minerals from different colours of fruit and vegetables. Red and orange fruit ‘n’ veg provide beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A in our bodies. Whereas green leafy vegetables provide us with folate and Vitamin C. So it’s important to eat a variety of colours of fruit and vegetables to get the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
In my opinion, if you want to get the most out of your diet, variety is key and much more important than eating the top 10 foods off a “super” list.