Like any buzzword, the term ‘superfood’ is banded around on health and fitness websites and newspaper articles, with the writers claiming they can do all kinds of wondrous and amazing things. Superfoods have been at the centre of debates, with some people claiming eating a certain food can reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes and even cancer. Could these foods really be that special?
In order to understand the headlines, we first need to understand where the word came from in the first place.
We’ve covered the contents of our food on this blog before – particularly talking about macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fats. To understand superfoods, we have to look even closer at our food, on a micronutrient level.
Micronutrients are essentially the vitamins and minerals your food contains. These molecules are much smaller than macronutrients; sometimes even as small as single elements like magnesium.
When food manufacturers talk about superfoods, often times they are describing the micronutrient properties of a certain food. Foods that contain lots of a particular vitamin or mineral are often called superfoods because they are micronutrient dense.
However, just because a food has a good reputation for a particular micronutrient doesn’t mean it’s the best food to eat to get that nutrient into your system. For example, we all know citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C – but gram per gram did you know that chilli peppers, pineapple, kale and broccoli all contain more?!
Superfoods it turns out, are probably not as super as the newspapers would have us believe. Sure, these micronutrients are very important for our bodies to function healthily, and no doubt eating a healthy diet will reduce the chance of developing disease – but really as long as you’re eating a good variety of fruits and vegetables, you can’t go far wrong!