Superfoods or Superhype?

Superfood

Superfoods or superhype? The short answer to this confusing and complicated question of whether superfoods actually exist is no. While preparing for a talk last week on power-packed cooking, I fell down the rabbit hole of superfoods on the internet - exploring where this crazy term came from, and if there was any real science behind these supposedly nutrient dense foods. Apparently, everyone is skeptical of superfoods but we are all still consuming them for “extra insurance”...myself included! So, before I put this topic to rest, I thought I would share my findings with you and expose which foods actually deserve the superfood title. And be prepared to be surprised, as these foods are probably in your cupboard as we speak!

Just a Marketing Term

The earliest recorded example of the term superfood being used was during a food marketing strategy to eat more bananas during World War I. At the time, the United Fruit Company had a huge import of bananas and they needed to get rid of them. Not as exotic of a story as you imagined - right?

Speaking of exotic, superfoods are often considered unfamiliar and alluring - think of quinoa when it first landed in our grocery stores 10 years ago and maca today. What surprises me most about these superfoods is that their taste doesn’t seem to play a role in our decision to purchase them because they are considered to be part multivitamin and part preventative medicine and not for enjoyment. But food should be enjoyed!

Superfoods at Home

So, what affordable, tasty superfoods do you currently have in your cupboard right now? Here are my favourite superfoods:

  1. Cruciferous vegetables - cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, collards, & arugula

    Why? Extremely nutrient-dense (vitamins A, C), cancer-preventive, anti-inflammatory (lots of phytonutrients)

  2. Nut butters and seeds - cashew, almond, peanut, walnut, hemp, pumpkin

    Why? Healthy fats, protein and minerals (lots of iron in pumpkin seeds)

  3. Booster foods like psyllium husks, ginger, turmeric and fermented foods

    Psyllium husks are your secret weapon to up your fibre intake in order to feed your healthy gut bacteria which will bring down inflammation and keep you regular. Just make sure to drink lots of water!

So, Superfoods or Superhype?

Long story short, I think the answer is all whole, single ingredient foods are superfoods. (Think about the perimeter of your grocery store where the healthier less processed foods are more likely found).

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  1. United Fruit Company. Food value of the banana: Opinion of leading medical and scientific authorities. United Fruit Company, Boston. 1917.

  2. Nielson Global Health and Wellness Report. We are what we eat. Healthy Eating Trends Around the World. January 2015. Accessed 4/3/2019.

  3. Mintel Group. Super growth for “super” foods: New Product development shoots up 202% globally over the past five years. May 15, 2016. Accessed 4/3/2019.