Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
7 minute read
29 Oct 2020
9:40 am

Technically, there is no such thing as a ‘superfood’

Sandisiwe Mbhele

Buzzwords such as vegan, health and plant-based have doubled on Goggle on searches but this huge consumption is not just a fade, there are more 'weird' foods marketed as high nutrient and packed with protein.

Picture: iStock

Plant-based diets, superfoods has been on the tip of the tongue for many people around the world in the last couple of years. The massive trajectory of more health-based food products in many stores isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Buzzwords such as vegan, health and plant-based have doubled on Google searches but this huge consumption is not just a fade, there are more ‘weird’ foods marketed as high nutrient and packed with protein.

Lexi’s Healthy Eatery has shown how plant-based is more sustainable lifestyle a little bit more accessible. The restaurant has been so successful in Gauteng that there are now franchises in Sandton, Rosebank, Modderfontein and Hazelwood. Founded by Lexi Monzeglio a local chef said the plant-based and superfood market is shifting from the perceived expensive tag to more affordable and accessible tag.

“The global trends include more ‘normal’ plant foods and nutrients, such as spirulina fibre. Generally, your superfoods also include avocados, almonds, it doesn’t have to be crazy.” Avocados are a great fat, good for your heart and can assist high cholesterol levels. Just like everything you eat it has to be consumed is reasonable portions as it is still calorie-dense.

Dietitian Caylin Goodchild says in fact the term superfood was created.

“Technically, there is no such thing as a “superfood”. This is because no one food item can provide us with all of our nutrition, energy and health benefits. When we hear about “superfoods” we should know that they are likely foods that have health benefits or important nutrients, which we can use to support our health.

“These include berries, spinach, nuts, olive oil, turmeric, garlic and legumes, to name a few. Some health shops may further mention items such as matcha tea, spirulina powder, hemp seeds, acai powder and many other interesting foods.”

Monzeglio said the superfoods on her menu include moringa powder, spirulina in some of their smoothies.

Moringa powder: Is made from naturally-dried moringa leaves, it has a spinach green flavour, great for green smoothies, can be added in curries, soups and salads too. It’s high in antioxidants, a rich source of iron, vitamin K and E, fibre and plant protein.

Your favourite comfort meals such as lasagne have been given a healthier notch and are becoming a popular alternative. Instead of your traditional flour pasta, green pasta using vegetables are a healthier alternative. Green lasagne using spirulina is a green nutrient-dense grounded plant, it has a seaweed flavour should be used in small amounts.

CBD Oil: Is the same plant used for dagga/weed, it is then diluted it with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil. CBD oil which has been mass-marketed for consumption, it doesn’t make you high, with increasing popularity it used for cancer patients and patient with chronic conditions to help ease symptoms of aliments. CBD Oil is infused in drinks such as kombucha, ice tea and smoothies.

Monzeglio says the ‘OG’s’ of superfoods are as turmeric anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety when infused with CBD oil, beetroots, grains and fruits.

There is less difficulty finding food spots where you could eat healthier. Kaylee’s Eatery started by Kaylee Gottschalk is nicely nestled in Bedfordview, Johannesburg.  She agrees that superfoods don’t have to be out there from ancient Peru, it as easy at eating more vegetables.

There are numerous trends in the health world, activated charcoal drinks, charcoal in burgers and black food colourings were highly popular and Instagrammable a few years ago and are still are in South Africa. But you might be surprised to find out that this trendy foodie moment is banned in some places.

“In 2017 charcoal was all the rage, but this has changed, it has been banned in parts of the United States of America (USA) with some people having overdosed,” Gottschalk said.

In 2018, some states such as in New York City starting banning ‘black’ foods as ruled instituted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food additive or food colouring agent. In a report by Culture Trip, the activated charcoal in food and drinks had been banned by the FDA for several years before it even became popular.

Black ice cream. Photo: iStock

Activated charcoal is a detox it cleanses the stomach, removing the toxins from your system. It supposedly should be eaten on an empty stomach if not the nutrients you have eaten will not be absorbed correctly.

Gottschalk says the less use of charcoal in food and drinks will properly only reach South African shores in a few years. Activated charcoal has been infused used in beauty products too, from face masks to teeth whitening products.

For her restaurant, the local chef has travelled widely around the world to find and taste whatever superfood even if its strange.

“We went to a spirulina farm in Bali, that specifically grows the plant only. It smelt like sticky horse poop. There is also a fruit called durian from Thailand and sold in many parts of Asia. It has a spiky exterior and a very soft interior. It tastes like a rotten egg, it is very weird but it is high in vitamins.”

Durian, a fruit originally from Thailand. Photo: iStock

Even if these fruits are a rare find around the world many food products have created have been created to please vegans or people moving away from meat. The beyond burgers, patties that don’t have any meat but look and taste like meat. The vegan alternatives also now include sticky wings and ribs have exceptionally grown in 2020.


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I have a confession to make, and I think I may not be the only one. Before my plant-based journey began I was a bit of a sucker for a particular Colonel’s fried chicken burger, to say the least.???? There was just something about the crunch and flavour of the coating that left me searching for a plant-based alternative???? I eventually decided to take things into my own hands and create one myself, and I’m super excited to share it with all of you???? Our “chick’n breast” is both high in protein and has an amazing texture. This is possible thanks to a combination of soy and gluten. Each breast is coated in our special crunchy chick’n breading, made by combining a secret mix of spices with a buttermilk batter????. They are then fried, leaving a crunchy flavourful exterior with a juicy interior. We top each burger off with helping of tangy pickles, creamy coleslaw smothered in ranch dressing, fresh crunchy lettuce, all nestled between two fluffy buns???? We can’t wait for you guys to try it and let us know what you think! We are so excited to see you guys in store this weekend???? . . . . #vegan #whatthehealth #animalfree #veganforanimals #veganworld #healthytreats #veganchef #veganfoodblog #nomeat #veganliving #poweredbyplants #veganforlife #plantbasedvegan #realfoodie #plantfoods #plantbasedgirl #plantbasedhealing #eatmoreveg #plantbaseddrippin #goingvegan #plantbasedchef #plantbased #plantbaseddiet #plantbasedfood #veganrestaurants #vegannoms #restaurantevegano #vegandaily #eatplantsnotfriends #kayleeseatery

A post shared by Kaylee’s Eatery (@kayleesbedfordview) on

“Definitely the big trend has been the beyond the burger, many of my customers are not vegan but food that reminds them of meat. The soya ‘chicken’ breasts and sticky ribs burgers are not trying to replicate the meat-based proteins, it shows that plant-based foods can these alternatives for the market. They should be eaten in portions not all the time.”

These meat alternatives are not necessarily the healthiest or are whole foods. “Some of these burgers are made in factories, processed and contains full of additives.”

People are much more aware of what they consume and where it comes, consciously making decisions that is for their well-being.

Goodchild added: “It all comes to down to balance and nourishing our body with what we eat. As Michael Pollan simply puts it: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plant”.

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