We hear the term superfoods used all the time these days to entice us to buy specific foods and food based products. Sometimes people buy these ‘superfood” products to try to compensate for an otherwise unhealthy diet. However, there is no specific official definition as such for superfoods. Unless there is proven scientific evidence to back up the claims made about a particular food, the EU has banned any superfood claims on food packaging. This hasn’t stopped many of the food brand companies from funding academic research in the hope of scientific confirmation of the health benefits of their products to enhance their sales in what is already a very lucrative marketplace.
The current superfood trend plays on our knowledge that healthy lifestyle habits, including factors such as regular exercise, healthy diet and reduced stress levels can reduce our risk factors for chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease and stroke.
The food giants’ desire to persuade us that just by eating certain foods we can relieve depression, delay the ageing process, boost our energy levels and physical ability and even improve our intelligence, leads many people to thinking that by eating a single vegetable or piece of fruit containing a certain antioxidant it will eliminate any diseased cells in their bodies.
The problem with the majority of the research carried out so far on superfoods is that it tests chemicals and extracts in much higher concentrations than are actually found in the foods themselves in their natural state.
How can we define a superfood?
Foods that are currently considered as superfoods include those rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, E, flavanoids and selenium. Antioxidants are chemicals which protect against harmful effects from free radicals which are chemicals naturally produced in every living cell and known to cause cell damage. Find out more about the top 10 superfoods here
As a specialist nutritionist I prefer to use the term “super diet”, as what we need to do is to create a healthy, balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables rather than focus too much on one particular food to compensate for a poor, unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Research shows that the traditional Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk factors of suffering some chronic diseases and increases our life expectancy considerably as it incorporates plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, extra virgin olive oil and varied legumes as well as oily fish. It has less meat and dairy foods than the typical Western diet and it avoids processed foods and saturated fats.
To find out more about the Mediterranean diet CLICK HERE