The notion of traditional good health can get boring. But add a dash of ‘superfoods’ and you have people the world over excited, willing to pay premium prices, and actually believing that just by adding a certain food item, they can live longer/healthier/more fulfilling lives. Digest this – between 2011 and 2015 there was a phenomenal 202% increase globally in the number of new food and drink products launched containing the terms “superfood”, “superfruit” or “supergrain”. In 2015, the US witnessed the highest number of “super” food and drink launches (30%), followed by Australia (10%), Germany (7%), the UK (6%) and Canada (6%).
The shocking truth is – there is no regulatory or even legal definition for superfoods. It’s time to move beyond superbly marketed food items and embrace real goodness instead. Here are 6 pseudo superfoods that you can give a miss:
#1 Acai berries: Rich in anthocyanin, an antioxidant that helps stave off some cancers, and keep skin healthy. Present in juices, yogurts, skin care products, etc.
What to eat instead: blackberries, raspberries, or any other purple berries as they comprise the identical anthocyanins as açaí berries and are cheaper and easier to purchase.
#2 Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): Touted as a superfood that regulates blood sugar, improves digestion, immunity, skin and gut health, and more, the real truth about ACV is – its benefits aren’t proven in non-diabetic population and seem to be highly exaggerated.
#3 Activated Charcoal: The next stylish detoxifier, activated charcoal finds a place in new-age juices, cosmetics, and health drinks. The truth – its ability to handle overdoses or unintended consumption of toxic chemical substances isn’t scientifically proven. Better to rely on proven detoxifiers i.e. your liver and kidneys, folks!
#4 Collagen: Whether as a skin, bone, or digestive supplement, you can’t escape the hype around collagen. The truth is – most humans have enough collagen naturally present in their bodies and no external supplementation is needed. What’s more – the elasticity improving qualities of collagen are not statistically proven to be significant. Need better skin, bone, joint health? Resort t good old physical exercise!
#5 Superfood powders: Widely available in grocery stores, these fruit and veggie powders are nothing more than multivitamins in powdered form. The biggest drawback of consuming these superfood powders over whole fruits and veggies is – you lose the fiber content which has the real gut benefits. As far as minerals and vitamins go, it’s easier for the body to process, absorb, and utilize the whole food vitamins and minerals than those that are artificial or supplemental.
#6 Bulletproof coffee: The newest beverage fad, Bulletproof coffee comprises butter, coconut oil, and even medium-chain-triglycerides (MCT) oil to give you that added energy boost that regular coffee can’t. Touted as the drink that provides ‘clean energy’ (without side effects) and boosts cognitive function, the dirty little truth about Bulletproof coffee is – there is hardly any reliable research to substantiate the long-term health benefits from these fats. Need healthy fats? Rely on olive oil, avocado, and just your regular coffee for that energy stimulus.
Natural trumps processed any day
Trend superfoods are often lab-manufactured or grown in a hybrid fashion at exotic locations, hence the price tag. However, health experts across the globe, concur on one fact – natural is always better than processed. Substances that make superfoods healthy are easily available in much cheaper forms. To ensure good health, one must eat a variety of real superfoods on a regular basis.