The word SUPERFOOD is everywhere and it seems that unless you are eating these superfoods religiously, then you aren’t doing your bit to be a healthy little vegemite. Well that’s far from the truth, much like some of the very cleverly marketed super food claims.
Before we get started, I must say that you are not a wanker if you eat the things on this list. No, that’s not what this article is about. We eat these things and we enjoy them. But, the health industry has cleverly created a very marketable product…the superfood.
The claims on these superfoods often appear to be the answer to everyone’s woes, but let’s take a look at the reality behind these claims
A delicious amazonian berry, the acai berry boasts superfood status like a boss. Acai bowls are now in every hipster cafe. The berry is made into a sorbet, placed in the bottom of a bowl, then topped with all kinds of delicious nuts, seeds and fruit. It’s fun, it’s delicious, and I love to eat them.They are certainly a better option than many menu items. However, it would be great if the sorbet was made on the berry alone, but most brands add sugar to the sorbet, meaning…your eating a sorbet (sugar+water+fruit). Acai is touted as being a superfood due to its high levels of antioxidants, but did you know that those antioxidant levels are the same as an apple? Poor apple is over in the daggy boring corner screaming “Hey, I’m high in antioxidants too!” The verdict: You can purchase the sorbet at the supermarket for around $22 for a litre but at this price, I would rather eat an apple which doesn’t contain added sugar.
2. Coconut oil
It’s a fat. Adding it to everything under the sun isn’t going to make you lose weight. Sure, use it as an alternative to other oils and fats as you wish, but sparingly. Biscuits made with coconut oil are still biscuits. A chocolate slice made from cacaco and coconut oil isn’t ‘healthy’. Contrary to clever marketing claims, the popular extra virgin coconut oil does not have a high smoke point, it actually has a low smoke point; similar to olive oil. It’s also praised for holding anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties but so do spices and honey. The verdict: Use coconut oil for the flavour, for its versatility and as a vegan alternative to butter, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it will magically make you lose those 10 kilos. Read my full article about coconut oil here
3. Greens Powder
Take green vegetables, dehyrdrate and dry them, grind them to a powder, whack them in a plastic container and let them sit on a shelf for a year in a health food shop.Greens powders have exploded onto the market as a way for time-poor people to maintain optimal nutrition. My advice? Just eat green veges, and then you know you really are getting the benefit of not only the vitamins and minerals, but also the antioxidants and phytochemicals. Greens powder thrown in a smoothie doesn’t negate the binge drinking the night before, or the unhealthy eating for the past couple of months. The verdict: Save money and eat real greens with real superfood powers such as broccoli, kale, zucchini, watercress, spinach, asparagus.
4. Rice Malt Syrup
It’s not claimed to be a superfood, but it’s used in every superfood recipe on the planet. Touted as being ‘sugar free’ this sweet syrup is still a sugar with exactly the same amount of calories as normal sugar. It is claimed to be healthy as it is low in fructose, but this doesn’t mean the body doesn’t store it as fat if you are eating above your kilojoule requirements for the day. It’s also highly refined (It was a rice, it’s been cooked and heated and made into a syrup). The verdict: Beware of recipes claiming to be SUGAR FREE, when they use rice malt syrup. It’s still a sugar. Read my article about which sugar to choose here
5. pH Water (or alkaline water)
This bottles water claims to be at the perfect pH level to prevent the body from becoming acidic and therefore, the water can prevent cancer and all sorts of illnesses and give you all kinds of wonderful super powers. But guess what. Your stomach is very clever at maintaining a certain acidic environment in there, in order to kill any bacteria that may enter via our food. So, the perfectly alkaline water goes into your perfectly acidic stomach and that acid ruins any alkalinity of the water anyway. The verdict: pH water (or alkaline water) is super expensive and a super waste of your money because your stomach will change the pH of the water anyway.
The REAL superfoods
- Basically ANY fruit
- Basically ANY vegetables
- Beans and legumes
- Herb and spices
- All red and purple fruit and vegetables such as berries, purple cabbage and capsicum (just to name a few)
- All green fruit and vegetables such as kiwi fruit, spinach and watercress (Just to name a few)
- Green tea
- Nuts and seeds
- Oily fish
- Fermented foods such as yoghurt, saurkraut and keffir
Tara is a university qualified nutritionist, renowned for her no-nonsense approach to nutrition and health. She helps people learn how to live a healthy life without the need for fad diets or expensive crazy ingredients. Just real food.