Superfood or Super Marketing?

We are all looking for the answer to perfect health, and we are often convinced that it lies in a newly discovered ancient food that has been eaten by an exotic tribe for centuries.  “Add this one ingredient to your diet and you will lose weight, fight cancer, age slower, clear your skin, feel happier, extend your life, improve libido…”

Wheatgrass, spirulina, quinoa, kale, goji, chia, acai, African mango seed, activated almonds, the list of so called “superfoods” goes on. But is this really the answer? Well, actually, no. I’m not saying these foods are necessarily bad, just that they may not be worth the extra price tag, and they certainly are not the only way to eat well. The marketing teams behind many of these foods want us to believe they are essential for eating well, and it’s just another reason to believe you need to have money in order to be healthy. But it’s not true. There are plenty of other foods out there that provide the same amount of nutrition without the high price tag.

Here are some superfoods claiming to have innumerable health benefits:

Goji berries can be found dried, powdered and in juices. Not particularly pleasant in flavour, goji berries are tolerated for their high amount of antioxidants, which in truth is no higher than most other berries (just a whole lot more expensive). Proof of the amazing capabilities of marketing, Goji berries are exactly the same as Wolfberries which can be purchased from Chinese herb stores for literally half the price!

Chia seeds have been touted for their many supposed health benefits such as assisting weight loss, reducing risk of disease and colon cleansing. However, studies have actually found that chia seeds do not promote weight loss or alter disease risk factors in overweight adults. While chia seeds are very high in omega 3’s, there is no evidence to suggest you need extra omega 3’s if you already follow a balanced diet. To be clear, I actually love chia seeds and eat them regularly – I just don’t believe they are an answer to all health problems.

Acai was listed as Oprah’s Number 1 superfood, and has since generated more than $13.5 million in sales per year. Human studies show that antioxidant levels increase after consuming acai in the same way it increases after consuming apple sauce. This means you are essentially getting the same result for a helluva lot more money.

Further to this, there is very little evidence that truly shows the benefits of antioxidants. “We reviewed a decades worth of research and found that maintaining a healthy weight and cutting down on smoking and drinking are far more important for warding off cancer than consuming extra antioxidants.” Professor Tim Key, Cancer Epidemology Unit, Oxford University. Superfoods may have health benefits, but so do standard fruits and veggies such as apples, carrots, eggplant, grapes, pears, sweet potato, zucchini, bananas, capsicum, and spinach to name a few – but these won’t set you back quite as much.

Find out more in The Checkout’s hilarious investigation here.

So what is the secret to health? I have it and I’m gonna share it with you. Are you ready to have your mind blown?!

b a l a n c e

It’s boring, unsexy, it’s no quick fix, you’ve heard it a million times and it has no supermodel ambassador, but eating a wide range of natural wholefoods (even if they’re not paleo), is the key to a healthy lifestyle. You can’t buy health. But you already knew that – now it’s time to start believing it.