It’s a new week, and there’s a new superfood. This one, like most of them, promises to be the world’s richest source of some-vitamin-or-another, is packed with nondescript antioxidants, and likely comes wrapped up in a convincing tale of some far-flung land, its traditional people, and their relationship with this particular miracle food.
And if the buzz isn’t enough to send you scrambling for your wallet, the superfood-in-question’s purported effects on longevity, beauty, or virility just might. Because we love a quick fix, and we love it even more if it comes with an organic stamp on it.
But the truth is, as potent as dietary measures are when it comes to our health, it’s not as simple as finding one miracle food. Eating for health is an ongoing set of habits, and involves commitment. We need to increase the levels of plant-based foods in our diet, eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and ensure that our protein, starchy carbohydrates, and healthy fats come from quality, unrefined sources. In short, while an ‘all natural’ diet will absolutely work wonders for your health, a single superfood will not.
Why, then, does the term superfood exist?
The answer is simple: it’s a marketing term.
It’s not a word plucked from science, and you’d be hard pressed to find a legitimate health professional willing to recommend the consumption of copious amounts of superfoods. But the word evokes a sense of nutritional superiority—and potentially a light sprinkling of magic—and so makes us believe that we need this particular superfood in our diets if we’re truly going to achieve the blissful state of optimal wellness and complete enlightenment that we strive so hard for. We. Need. It.
Except that we don’t need them. That’s not to say superfoods are unhealthy for us—far from it—but rather that there are plenty of humble occupants of the refrigerator that are comparable in terms of nutrition, and that likely carry with them fewer food miles. So why spend a bucketload of cash on a freeze-dried powder that was packaged, processed, and shipped from Brazil, when a head of home-grown broccoli will do the same trick?
So let’s take a look at a common few superfoods, and what we can swap them for that will pack just as much health benefit, and make less of a dent on our pockets:
|Swap this…||For this…|
|Acai||Acai is often associated with a high ORAC score, a measure of a food’s antioxidant capacity. But ORAC is a test tube test, and I think we can all agree that the human body is marginally more complex than your average test tube. in fact, ORAC was dismissed as a measure of a food’s health benefit back in 2015. Get your antioxidant cyanidins from fresh blueberries instead.|
|Goji Berries||Despite the big nutrition claims, a single strawberry can contain up to three times as much vitamin C as a serve of goji berries. Besides, goji berries taste like dust, and don’t even compare to a fresh, sweet strawberry. So there’s that.|
|Broccoli Sprout Powder||Grow your own broccoli sprouts if you can, but if not then you can find the same healthy sulphorafanes in all the cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.|
|Spirulina||Blending a handful of spinach through your morning protein shake will give you more nutrition (namely iron and vitamin A) than this expensive supplement.|