Although some foods have superior nutritional value, there’s no incentive for manufacturers to define terms like superfood. The ambiguity hides the true facts.
WE HUMANS are suckers for a promise that is too good to be true – especially if it offers a shortcut to health and longevity. That is one of the appeals of “superfoods”, which are sold as if they contain a magical elixir of life that will wash away the sins of an otherwise poor diet and inactive lifestyle.
It is easy to dismiss such claims as marketing hype and wishful thinking. But that is too hasty. Foods vary in their nutritional value. Is it possible that some deserve the title of superfood?
Answering that question turns out to be very difficult, not least because the definition is so vague. Despite thousands of websites and lifestyle articles devoted to superfoods, there is hardly any published research in peer-reviewed scientific journals. What is out there is, more often than not, industry-funded, published in alternative health journals and too eager to jump to scientifically questionable conclusions.
You can find answers, though, if you look hard enough. By picking apart the boldest superfood claims, comparing their nutritional profiles with less exotic fare and talking to experts, we have come to some evidence-based conclusions, not all of which go against the grain (see “Miracle meal or rotten swindle? The truth about superfoods“). In short: some things marketed as superfoods are nutritionally superior to other, similar foods. Many more are not.
Via Bert Guevara, Eric Larson, The Planetary Archives / San Francisco, California