Sean Van Staden
Columnist
2 minute read
9 Nov 2013
9:00 am

Exposing supermyths behind superfoods

Sean Van Staden

When you walk into a greengrocer, do you believe that all foods are equal in nutrition? Do you believe some have mystical natural healing powers, or is all this talk of superfoods nothing more than some high- grade marketing ploy to sell more products?

Sean van Staden

It’s hard to believe anything nowadays because marketers have become so crafty and play so close to the fence of legality, that as a customer, it’s hard to not to believe what is right or wrong.

What caught my eye this past week was an e-mail that was trending with regards to certain foods having almost superhuman powers to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, protection against cancer and prevention and reduction of inflammation.

Superfood is marketing terminology.

Once you understand the above statement, you will realise that you need to take everything you read or hear with a pinch of salt.

Nutritionist Aron Moses was referenced in the journal of Nature Nutrition in August 1998 as saying: “Humans have many options when it comes to fuelling their bodies, but the benefits of some options are so nutritious that they might be labelled as superfoods.”

Ever since his remarks were published, the word “superfood” has gone viral in all walks of life.

It has got so out of hand that the European Union have prohibited the use of the word “superfood” on the marketing of products unless it is accompanied by a specific medical claim supported by credible scientific research.

Bringing superfood back into context

The word “superfood” has received a slap on the wrist by authority, but let’s bring it back into context.

You walk into a greengrocer and gaze at a multitude of products, fruit and vegetables. You will agree with me that not all the foods are created equal.

Would you say an apple is more nutritional than a ginger biscuit? Would you say that blueberries have greater nutritional benefits than an apple? The answer is yes to both questions, but they were placed in context.

Every food has some sort of nutritional value and health benefit, some foods have more value than others. So in coining the phrase “superfood”, understand it is just a way of saying that that particular fruit or vegetable has greater nutritional value and health benefits than another.

The magical foods

According to Dr Perricone, who has written several books on the matter, he believes that these superfood groups are key to a healthier younger you and very importantly, getting rid of unwanted bulges.

He believes that these groups have immense health benefits over other food groups, namely Acai, the allium family, barley, beans and lentils, buckwheat, green foods, hot peppers, nuts and seeds, sprouts, yogurt and kefir.

The important thing to remember is not only to eat superfoods and alienate your other food groups but rather to strive to achieve a well-balanced diet and if a chocolate or ice-cream just so happens “accidently on purpose” to fall into your shopping basket, it is OK.