WTF is a superfood?

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I love superfoods, whatever that means right? For the last edition of our buzzword series, I requested Alina, that it be one of my favourite health words.

I’ll be honest, at times I think it is more the idea of superfoods that I love. They promise eternal health and vitality and I’ll eat whatever I need to just so I don’t ever have to take any autoimmune medication again. I chase and lust after superfoods the way I did my high school crush, who by the way had fantastic legs, so it wasn’t easy keeping up.

I’ll tell you something else though, eating my favourite whole superfoods does make me feel good, blueberries, chia seeds, kale, goji berries, quinoa, cacao… Even if it is a marketing gimmick, it is one of the better tricks played on us, just take heed of Alina’s sound advice below.

By Alina Islam – Founder of The Green Lunchbox, a nutritional coaching company for busy people.

Did you know that blueberries are the new “superfood?” So are pumpkin seeds! Apples! Avocados! Almonds!

If you think I’m just spewing out random fruits & vegetables, that is exactly what I’m doing. But I’m not inaccurate in the least. If one were to type in “list of superfoods” in the Google search bar, they would find all of the aforementioned foods and essentially a list of the produce aisle. Because that is what the term superfood is. It is a fancier way of saying healthy food and getting people more excited about eating things that are good for you, like fruits and vegetables, lean meat, poultry, lentils and whole grains, for example.

Today’s buzzword: Superfood

So why use the word superfood? Well, companies are simply calling the food “super” because it is nutrient dense or high in micronutrients, which are also known as vitamins and minerals. In a nutshell, it provides a lot of nutritional bang for your caloric buck.

For example, for 150 calories you could eat one serving of Pringles or half an avocado. The label on Sour Cream & Onion Pringles states that per serving you get approximately 6% Vitamin C (from the fried potatoes I presume, not the best form to get your Vitamin C!) On the other hand, with half an avocado you’re getting micronutrients like Vitamin A, B’s, C, D, E, K, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Selenium and the list goes on and on. You can easily Google this to see the difference in percentage amounts!

So is falling for the superfoods marketing gimmick, the biggest atrocity in the world? Not really. At least people are being encouraged to add healthier foods to their diet.

Here’s when the word superfood can become a problem:

  • When a “healthy” junk food uses the word “superfood” for pure profit. For example, a sugar & preservative-filled blueberry muffin could say “superfood blueberry muffin” and you would be tricked into thinking you’re doing something good for yourself.
  • When we run out to get superfoods from far away lands hoping they have the magic cure or will bring us eternal youth. We have to realize that at the end of the day, the health & wellness industry is a business, like any other kind of business that needs to constantly market and new products to keep people coming! Thanks to globalization, better technology and access to more resources, the industry is thriving on marketing “superfoods” from far away lands, like goji berries from Tibet or Maca from Peru. These foods are great, but they are expensive and not crucial for your health at all. If you want to be kinder to your health and wallet, I’d suggest just cutting down on processed food, buying more produce to cook your meals, and visiting the farmers market to see what is seasonal, fresh and affordable.
  • When it adds even more confusion to an already confusing marketplace.

In the words of Michael Pollan, I urge you to keep it simple and follow his advice: “Eat [real] food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

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Superfood Muesli




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