What Are Superfoods, And Do You Need Them?

‘Superfood’ has become a term that has been tossed around by the media, health enthusiasts, #cleaneating advocates on social media, and numerous food brands.

But with the media reporting almost weekly on the latest and newest superfoods to add to your diet, we wanted to look at what superfoods are, and how they are beneficial to us.

There is no single, magical superfood that has the power to transform your life and health all by itself. The human body is an extremely complex machine, and much more is needed than a particular food, supplement, or pill for the solution to a healthy and long life.

The oldest known usage of the term ‘superfood’ was in a poem published in a Jamaican newspaper as a reference to wine. The second-oldest known usage of the word ‘superfood’ was in 1949, in an article in a Canadian newspaper referring to the nutritional qualities of a muffin. However, man cannot live on wine and muffins alone!

The likely most accurate way of describing a superfood is that it has a concentrated source of one or more nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This means these superfoods can help boost general health, immunity, and longevity.

However, for a superfood to be truly beneficial, it needs to be easily available for it to be made part of your diet. While superfoods such as blackberries, tomatoes, and broccoli can be grown easily in the UK, produce such as jackfruit, turmeric, and even avocados are typically grown abroad, which can increase their prices and involve many transport miles to get them here.

Often some of these superfoods find themselves with a huge marketing campaign which makes them easier to find in supermarkets, but eating food that comes from thousands of miles away can also be problematic due to the carbon footprint produced by their transport and import

Transport of these superfoods can often take days or weeks, and as recently seen, can get stuck in transport, as was the case with many international shipments during the Suez Canal blockage.

Delicate nutrients like water-soluble vitamins are prone to get affected over a few days, with exposure to heat and light, and the costs attached to transport and import duties can make these foods an expensive proposition.

Aside from a few concessions for milling, grinding and freezing, your superfoods should not come out of a packet. For those that do, such as fruit and vegetable powders, it’s important to read the nutrition label on the packaging to see how processed the food is.

A shortlist of ingredients with the superfood ingredient listed first, no added sugar, salt, fillers and preservatives are some of the pointers to keep in mind while checking the labels.

It’s also a good idea to check how much of the superfood is present in the product. After being processed, does the finished product still qualify as a superfood? Don’t be dazzled by flashy packaging with ‘superfood’ embossed in jazzy fonts, and always read the label!

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