Darren Danks: Superfood or super fake?

[Global] Every week there’s a new food we should either bin or binge on. Superfoods are just one of many but should we believe the hype? Darren Danks finds out.

Talk about wellbeing and healthy food and it’s easy to drift down the road towards superfoods. They’re apparently the ‘secret’ to living until you’re a gazillion years old and they’re the secret to cleansing your body of all the toxins and nasty additives we can’t help but consume and also that surround us in everyday life.

Well, that’s what we are led to believe anyway, but has the hype got substance or is it just that. . . hype?

Superfoods have no official definition and according to the NHS, the EU has banned any health claims on packaging of such foods unless they are supported by scientific evidence.

Spirulina, Chlorella, chia seeds, wheatgrass shots and flax seeds are just some of the wonder stuffs out there and the list is growing each year.

The whole idea is that these foods which are classed as ‘super’ are extremely nutrient-dense and highly beneficial to our health and wellbeing. And from that description it would be easy to get seduced into believing these superfoods will play some part in overhauling our health.

The headlines have been rife with claims of antioxidants that are thought to ‘protect against the harmful effects of free radicals’. In simple terms these are chemicals that are naturally produced in every living cell and are known to cause damage. If there’s something out there that can supposedly stop this who wouldn’t want to rush out and buy it?

But don’t go shopping to stock up on bags of powders and seeds just yet.

Instead think about the more readily available go-to healthy foods that we can get from any grocery shop, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, fruit and all the other healthy and natural foods. These powerhouses of nutrition and fibre are incredibly beneficial to our health and wellbeing.

They provide us – so long as we are mindful as to how we cook them – with a fantastic source of nutrients, with each different fruit or vegetable having its own vital vitamins to help keep us in tip-top condition.

The real problem to our health begins when we leave these essential nutrients out of our daily diet completely or they become just a small part of a pre-prepared meal whereby their effectiveness is greatly reduced.

If we eat too few of these ‘good’ foods and too many ‘bad’ foods we won’t be giving our bodies the best chance to be healthy.

Fueling your body with lots of sugar and high-fat foods will, over time, lead to you feeling sluggish, tired and even putting on weight. If you make a conscious effort to eat more fresh, natural foods then your body will begin to thrive and you will notice vast improvements in your skin, energy levels and general well-being.

Start with the basics such as fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds and you will see a difference. Add to this the superfoods and there will be even more benefits.

A major factor to consider, aside from the lack of any real scientific evidence that these so-called superfoods do actually live up to their claims, is the price.

Going shopping for a week’s worth of fruit and vegetables may seem like an expensive outlay of your food budget but it will probably cost less than forking out for two smallish pouches of Spirulina powder which can retail at anything from around £5.99 upwards for 100g. Yes it’s a concentrated product but combined with all the other superfoods you may wish to invest in, it will all add up.

The most important thing is to get the foundation of your diet right. Eat fresh, natural foods that are readily available, make sure you do a moderate amount of exercise and be happy. All those little things add up and may result in an improvement in your health.


Photo: Fact or fiction? – Are superfoods all they’re cracked up to be?

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