The Superfood Hype

Lanu Pitan

The term ‘superfood’ is a marketing gimmick that created a billion dollars industry

Photo by Tiago Faifa on Unsplash

 Wikipedia wrote that there is no definition of a superfood, but coined by Food Marketers to denote nutrition-dense foods, usually fruits and vegetables. This means the term was coined to sell their products by giving it a selling hype that it performs better than its counterpart in the market.

Superfoods are used to describe foods rich in vitamins, minerals and ant-oxidants naturally, but little calorie. People know these foods to be good, but since they start using the term, the foods are now being sought after and become more expensive than it usually is. Let us look at some foods thus classified as superfoods:

Leafy Green Vegetables — We don’t need anyone to tell us these are good for us, or have to classify them as ‘’superfoods’’. Leafy greens include among others salad vegetables, shoots, watercress and sprouts. The nutrients contents (calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins, A, C, & K, antioxidants, folate, many B vitamins and fibre) are mainly because of the phytonutrients in plants. Major leaf vegetables are cabbage, spinach, kale (kale has little omega-3 fatty acid as well).

Leafy Green vegetables also have some macronutrients, like carbohydrates, fibre and proteins.

The phytonutrients in leafy vegetables are lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, which fights against age-related macular degeneration and protect cells walls from damage.

Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

Nature provides abundantly, so there is always some native (local) to your country, which is best for you to eat. If everyone eats locally, there will be less interest in transporting foods across the globe.

Benefits of eating leafy vegetables indicate a lower rate of cardiovascular diseases and slower age-related cognitive decline.

Berries — notable among them are Goji berries, blueberries and acai berries. Berries are very high in flavonoids (simple carbon atoms found in most plants and fruits and serve as anti-oxidants). Flavonoids are good in fighting everyday toxins, including urinary tract infection, support blood pressure and diabetes. They also maintain, eye, liver and kidney health.

Goji berries, which has its roots from China, can be dangerous for persons who are on blood thinners, like warfarin, otherwise, it is safe to consume.

Wine from grapes — Grapes and grape wines are among those classified as superfoods. This is because of resveratrol and polyphenol contained in the skin of grapes. They are particularly good for diabetic retinopathy and neurology(this is a condition of severe diabetic impaired vision).

In laboratory rats, resveratrol is particularly good for Alzheimer treatment, control blood sugar level, improve hot flushes and can control mood swings in menopausal rats. Tests have not been made on human.

Grapes are also rich in ‘’QUERCETIN’’, a compound that is known as anti-cancer, anti-inflammation, and atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque inside the arteries).

Dark Chocolate — is cocoa solid, without the milk and sugar. It is rich in minerals, antioxidants, magnesium and zinc. It is thought that dark chocolate keeps the heart-healthy.

Research by the European Society of Cardiologist published on the 22nd July 2020, says eating a bar of dark chocolate at least once a week, is linked to reduced heart disease.

It has been proved in the past that dark chocolate is beneficial for blood pressure and the lining of the blood vessels.

Spirulina — is a form of edible algae. It is sixty per cent protein, contains minerals and beta-carotene with gamma-linolenic acid, an essential component of fatty acid.

Spirulina is believed to cure hepatitis, depression, diabetics, cholesterol, and hypertension. No human test is carried out to prove these claims.

Caution — Spirulina contains the amino acid, phenylalanine, so it is not recommended to those suffering phenylketonuria ( a condition where the body is unable to digest amino acid phenylalanine).

Wheat Grass — is freshly sprouted wheat plant. Wheatgrass can be used in the smoothie and or used in the salad. It can also be juiced and drink whole.

Wheatgrass contains vitamins A, C, E, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, and amino acids. Wheatgerm is believed to improve the concentration of haemoglobin (the chemical in red blood cells that carry oxygen) in people with a blood disorder (beta-thalassemia), high cholesterol, IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome), diabetics and high cholesterol.

Sea Weeds— is a form of edible of the sea) algae (non-flowering aquatic plants that typically spread over a vast area. They do contain chlorophyll but lacks stems and roots.

Seaweed is very high in iodine, so beneficial for those with thyroid problems. It also contains various nutrients like Thiamine, copper, Manganese, iron, Riboflavin, Calorie, Carbs, Protein and fats.

Seaweeds also have traces of Vitamins A, C, E, K, B12, Zinc, and folate.

Chorella and Spirulina are types of seaweeds.

A Balanced Diet Is Still The Key

Again and again, the importance of a healthy plate is not to be undermined in favour of one or two so-called superfoods.

A healthy diet must contain dairy, protein, fat (healthy fats like avocado/olive oil), carbohydrate, flesh, (meat, poultry, fish, other sea animals like prawns, oysters etc), vegetables, fruits and fibre.

A healthy plate must contain at least five of the above to satisfy nutritional sufficiency.

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