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Superfoods or Superhype?

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/superfoods/

hsph.harvard.edu

Superfoods or Superhype?
There’s no scientifically based or regulated definition for superfood, so where did the term originate? Learn more about the history of superfoods.

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Superfoods: A Primer

Superfoods: A Primer

Any food is generally promoted to a ‘superfood’ status when it has a generous amount of desirable nutrients, disease-killing abilities, and has other health benefits apart from the nutritional value.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a superfood as “a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fibre, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.”

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The First Superfood: Banana

The First Superfood: Banana

Marketing and promotion of the first identified superfood, the banana, originated during World War I when the United Fruit Company started promoting it as being:

  1. Cheap and nutritious.
  2. Easily digested by the body.
  3. Available throughout the year everywhere.
  4. Sealed naturally.
  5. Good cooked and uncooked.

Later The American Medical Association further promoted bananas to be a staple of a child’s diet, fueling the banana diet craze.

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Superfoods Are Profitable

Superfoods Are Profitable

Many natural foods are heavily marketed as Superfoods, resulting in exponential sales.

The foods are often promoted as a must-have product, that is helpful in preventing many lifestyle diseases and health problems. It is a good idea to enjoy a varied diet instead of buying in the hype.

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Recently Marketed Superfoods

Recently Marketed Superfoods

Apart from fruits, various grains, seeds, vegetables and even seaweed are promoted as Superfoods. Some examples:

  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Pomegranate
  • Wheatgrass
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric.

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There is no "best diet"

The “best” diet is a theme: an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water for thirst. 

That can be with or without seafood; with or...

Best foods don’t have labels

Because they are just one ingredient: avocado, lentils, blueberries, broccoli, almonds, etc.

The "Age" of vegetables

The best vegetables are likely to be fresh and locally sourced, but flash frozen is nearly as good (as freezing delays aging). Those “fresh” vegetables that spend a long time in storage or transit are probably the least nutritious.

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The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet

The basic concept of the paleo diet is to eat whole foods and avoid processed foods.

Studies suggest that this diet can lead to significant weight loss and major improveme...

A general guideline

There is no one "right" way to eat for everyone.

Some eat a low-carb diet high in animal foods, while others follow a high-carb diet with lots of plants.

Avoid these foods and ingredients:

  • Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.
  • All Grains.
  • Legumes like beans and lentils.
  • Most Dairy, especially low-fat dairy.
  • Some vegetable oils like soybean, sunflower, cottonseed, corn, grapeseed, safflower and other oils.
  • Trans fats: "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" oils found in margarine and various processed foods.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame potassium. 
  • Highly processed foods: Everything labeled "diet" or "low-fat" or that has many additives.

Superfoods

The selling point of superfoods is not so much their taste but the extent to which they will enhance your health if you eat them. It is not qualities that are mere add-ons, like fortified cereals, ...

Labeled as superfoods

Some regular foodstuffs such as broccoli and spinach have been rebranded for their health-giving qualities. 

The volume of blueberries and cranberries sold in Britain quadrupled in the last decade, for example. However, critics warn that the description encourages us to focus on a single foodstuff at the expense of a healthy diet.

Food and medicine

Cooks in the past have often doubled as herbalists who sought to soothe and strengthen. Long before "superfoods," we consumed tonics and home remedies. For example, sage was believed to improve a person's memory. Science later confirmed its memory benefits.