Superfood

The concept of the superfood is a popular one when it comes to food and health. The latest scientific evidence, and assure us that eating these foods will give our bodies the health kick they need to stave off illness and aging. The current attention on superfoods has likely been encouraged by a growing public interest in food and health, particularly in the developed world.Despite its ubiquity in the media, however, there is no official or legal definition of a superfood. The Oxford English dictionary, for example, describes a superfood as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”, while the Merriam-Webster dictionary omits any reference to health and defines it as “a super nutrient-dense food, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, and/or phytonutrients”

These are just a handful of the many studies that have looked at the health properties of foods. At first glance, they appear to lend weight to the existence of certain superfoods — certainly, the nutrients in these foods have been shown to have several health-promoting properties. It is a way that the food industry wants to persuade us that eating some foods can slow down the ageing process, lift depression, boost our physical ability, and even our intelligence. Labelling some foods as ‘super’ in the media may also give the impression that other foods in our diets are not as healthy when, in reality, these foods often provide nutrients just as valuable as those found in superfoods.

When it comes to ensuring a balanced nutrient intake for good health, we need to increase the range of nutritious foods in our diets rather than focusing solely on a handful of foods claimed to be ‘super’. Importantly, this should include a greater quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables. Many European countries provide food-based dietary guidelines to help people reach this goal.
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Updated
December 9, 2015
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