FOR: In Defence of Superfoods
[Mercedes Brazier | Sports-Sub Editor]
There is a range of definitions for superfoods and their benefits, there are debates amongst nutritionists and scientists as to what foods are classed as superfoods and why. Some believe that there are over 100 superfoods, which are predominantly fruits and vegetables, due to the nutrients they contain.
Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients and minerals that we all need in order to live a healthy lifestyle. However, when discussing superfoods the usual conclusion is that they are superfoods depending on the level of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty within them. Antioxidants, according to the NHS, are ‘chemicals thought to protect against the harmful effects of free radicals, which are chemicals naturally produced in every living cell and known to cause cell damage.’
Recent studies have shown that there are little benefits to human health with a huge intake of antioxidants, however a small daily dose of antioxidants will have a positive effect, they give your body the nutrients it needs to fight off potential cancer cells.
It is true that due to them being termed ‘superfoods’ there has been a rise in sales of these foods; however this does not mean that they were termed this purely to make money. Since being deemed super there has been a rise in interest in food; people are putting in more time and research to understand what is in the food they eat, and how this helps them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The food that we now term superfoods are not always the fruit and veg we assume them to be, many companies now sell pure forms of predominantly plant based nutrients in the form of powder and tablets. One company, who’s products I have tried, are Organic Burst (http://www.organicburst.com) who state: “All our chosen products have a proven track record over millennia with indigenous people around the world having cherished them for their incredible benefits.”
A young couple started the company in 2011 and they sell products such as: acai berries, spirulina, maca, chlorella, baobab and wheatgrass, and they can be bought in the form of powder or tablets. These products have been proven by scientists to have a beneficial impact on our health.
Superfoods do not necessarily need to be the fruit and veg we students often have to force ourselves to eat, but can be in the form of a pure tablet or powder we can take in the morning or sprinkle over porridge (maca is best for that). People are quick to judge when they are introduced to something new and I agree that the term ‘superfood’ is a bit presumptuous as to their benefits, but by doing research and introducing them into your diet you could see beneficial improvements.
For more information on superfoods and what they do for us, do some research on the Organic Burst website, given above, they also provide you with recipes and advice for using their products!
AGAINST: The Superfoods Myth [Oliver Price | Contributing Writer]
Superfoods aren’t a real thing. In fact, they’re so not-a-real-thing that in 2007 the EU effectively banned calling any product a superfood without accompanying scientific evidence backing up the claim. However, this is impossible, seeing as superfood is not a scientifically defined term, by either dietitians or nutrition scientists (but possibly by nutritionist charlatans such as “Dr” Gillian McKeith).
So-called superfoods have a wide variety of claims made about them, from garlic curing the common cold to omega-3 oils in oily fish preventing dementia. The evidence for almost every single claim made about superfoods is inconclusive, and any benefits are the same you would get from eating a balanced diet. No one is claiming that blueberries, pomegranates (which are delicious), and goji berries (which are horrible) aren’t healthy, but it’s completely asinine to put “superfoods” above other parts of a well balanced diet, as they have no more significant nutrient density than other similar foods.
So what are superfoods? In reality, ‘superfood’ is a shallow marketing term; an attempt by companies to jump on the healthy food bandwagon and sound sciency in order to… you guessed it, make money! And you know what? It works. Sales of foods commonly believed to be superfoods are much higher than they were before superfood was in the common vernacular. Some people may not have a problem with lying to make money, but I do.
A belief in superfoods can potentially have an opposite to the desired effect. Until recently, Yog Frozen Yoghurt advertised itself as a superfood, and while it is very tasty, and is probably healthier than Ben and Jerry’s, it’s still basically fancy ice cream, full of sugar, and you’re not going to do your diet any favours by eating it frequently. Superfood lovers also have the unfortunate downside of eating horrible food, like the aforementioned goji berries and a Superfood Strawberry Cheesecake I found online; you can’t call something a cheesecake if it hasn’t got any cheese in it!
There is a much darker side to the superfood craze. A common claim by superfood advocates is that antioxidants in foods such as cranberries can prevent cancer. However, a significant statistical link between antioxidants and a reduction in cancer rates has never been found in scientific trials. Because of their false beliefs some people may think that they are far safer from cancer than they actually are, and therefore forgo required checkups that come with age, or a weird ache. Some people may even drop treatment entirely and stick to their superfoods even if they know they have cancer, and will probably die.
Next time you see a food advertised as a superfood, really think about whether they deserve your business. And maybe call Trading Standards.
What do you think of the Superfoods debate? Let us know @TridentMediaUK!
[Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are the writers’ own and are not endorsed by Trident Media or Hertfordshire Students’ Union]