I’m Forever Reading Reading About Superfood Vegetables That Are Apparently Magic & Supply Nutrients, Vitamins & MicroElements! Are they Real? That’s What This Article Is About.

Quinoa growing on a Devon farm - A Superfood Vegetable?
Quinoa growing on a Devon farm

For those aiming to improve their health, the notion of ‘superfoods’ and Superfood Vegetables, as a one-stop nutritional powerhouse is undeniably appealing. But do these ‘superfoods’ live up to their incredible claims?

Salmon, broccoli, and blueberries are just a few of the foods that have been bestowed with the ‘superfood’ label. While these are undoubtedly nutritious options, the ‘super’ prefix implies that they possess extraordinary health benefits beyond mere nutrition. But is there any truth to the concept of superfoods?

Defining ‘Superfood Vegetables’

My second career was in marketing and I know how some marketing people latch on to a word and exaggerate it. So know what a vegetable is, but what is a superfood.

Superfoods are typically foods that boast a high nutritional value. This often translates to a rich blend of nutrients, including healthy fats, fibre, and phytochemical.

Phytochemicals are natural compounds found in plants known for their vibrant colours and fragrances. Phytochemicals have been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular and other diseases BUT it isn’t quite that simple. Loads of plants, veg and other foods contain phytochemnicals. Perhaps they are all superfoods .. or maybe none of them are!

Many superfoods are also celebrated for their antioxidant content. Antioxidants are compounds that combat harmful free radicals—molecules capable of damaging our body’s cells. Again just because something is celebrated for something doesn’t make it true. And many plants posses the same ability so why are some chosen as superfoods and others ignored. Is it just the marketing spiel that set them apart.

While the idea of consuming nutrient-packed foods is sound, it’s essential to note that there is no universally accepted scientific definition for superfoods. In fact, the European Union banned the use of the term ‘superfood’ in marketing unless it is supported by credible scientific evidence. Very few products have been able to produce credible evidence. An example of a product that has been able to are the margarines that are proven to reduce cholesterol.

Sadly, claims of certain foods being ‘super’ are often sensationalised in the media and frequently lack accuracy. Critics argue that this focus on superfoods might encourage individuals to fixate on a single food at the expense of maintaining a well-rounded diet.

I suspect many “superfoods”, such as quinoa, would never sell unless marketers had pushed them as being nutrient packed or whatever. To me, I believe many veg are super but claiming superfood status is just marketing hype that cannot be justified.

The Reality of Superfoods (& Superfood Vegetables)

In truth, a balanced diet remains key to good health. While certain foods may indeed offer unique health benefits, relying solely on a limited number of superfoods is not a practical approach.

For instance, blueberries and açai berries are commonly promoted as superfoods due to their high antioxidant content. However, several other more affordable and widely available foods also offer substantial antioxidant benefits. These include various berries, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

This brings me to the carrot story from WWII. The Brits had a fighter ace that shot down a lot of enemy aircraft and leaked the story that it was due to the fact he ate lots of carrots that helped him see in the dark. A whole storyline was built around this propaganda and the Nazis apparently spent a lot of time and effort trying to replicate it. The real reason the ace was so good was that he and a few others were testing a new fighter gunsight that was actually tested near where I now live.

Dietitians caution against buying into the ‘superfood’ hype. They argue that the term is often misleading and may create unrealistic expectations about a food’s health benefits. No single food can cure all ailments or provide every nutrient our bodies require.

A Balanced Approach to Nutrition

Experts emphasize the importance of consuming a diverse range of foods to obtain a wide spectrum of nutrients. Berries are an excellent example, offering antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre in a compact package.

Eggs, another versatile food, provide an array of essential nutrients, including iron, B vitamins, choline, phosphorus, and lutein for eye health.

Nuts and seeds are praised for their fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Despite their calorie density, they have demonstrated benefits in certain weight loss studies.

While indulging in occasional treats is acceptable, highly processed foods high in fat and sugar should make up only a small part of our diet. Instead, prioritise a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins.

What to grow in the U.K. Assorted salads and fruit aka superfood vegetables are possibilities.
What to grow in the U.K. Assorted salads and fruit are possibilities

Dietitians often recommend “eating a rainbow” by including a wide range of colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet. Fresh, frozen, or canned options all contribute to a balanced nutrition plan. It’s unnecessary to focus on expensive or trendy varieties; local and seasonal produce can be both cost-effective and healthy.

Ultimately, the concept of ‘superfoods’ may be more about marketing than science. While specific foods may offer unique health advantages, the key to optimal health lies in the diversity of our diets. Rather than seeking a single ‘super’ solution, embrace a balanced approach to nutrition for lasting well-being.

This is why I often show photos of my meals that often contain 20 plus salad veg. To me, it’s a mix like this that is my superfood vegetable.

Tag: Superfood Vegetable

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