Superfoods: salvation for the body or another advertising gimmick?
October 26, 2020
Chia seeds, spirulina, quinoa, acai berries – these once exotic foods are increasingly included in our diet and are considered an integral part of a healthy diet. People are willing to pay huge sums of money for “especially valuable and nutritious” delicacies. But are the properties of superfoods really justified by their overpricing? We deal with Tim Spector, author of the book “Myths about diets.”
What is it?
The list of “superfoods” is growing by leaps and bounds. Among the best known are the acai berries for their purported antioxidant properties, the protein-rich quinoa, the chia seeds, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, and even the humble beet, which actually alters nitric oxide levels.
There are more exotic options: freshwater algae chlorella is a rich green plant that helps with immune diseases, diabetes and cancer, which costs about $ 120 a month. Or blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), in particular spirulina, is another “boosting immunity” superfood with a high content of protein and vitamin B.
In terms of grams, spirulina costs about 30 times more expensive than meat. A source
Spirulina produces vitamin K and a form of vitamin B12 – the latter is abundant in meat and is often required by vegetarians. However, there is no evidence that the B12 form produced by spirulina has the same key properties and benefits as a natural vitamin.
What does the research say?
There is not a lot of scientific research on superfoods. In those of them that can be considered reliable, the vast majority of “amazing results” are presented only in laboratory test tubes or on the example of rats, which were fed impressive amounts of “superfood” in its pure form.
Superfoods have long since become a marketing gimmick, although in fact every fresh fruit and vegetable is miraculous.
All fruits and vegetables contain hundreds of different chemical compounds with beneficial properties. Plus, many products don’t work in isolation. Spinach and carrots are good examples, both of which contain carotene, which is best absorbed with fat (such as olive oil).
So eating a few select “superfoods” from time to time is not as effective as eating a variety of vegetables and herbs on a regular basis.
Based on the book “Myths about diets”
Cover photo from here