We don’t want to give away too much too soon, but it turns out nutritionist Richie Kirwan isn’t a fan of “superfoods”.
OK, hold on. That may not be entirely fair. It’s not the foods that are the issue, but the name. “Superfoods” is one of his least favourite nutrition buzzwords.
What are “superfoods”?
The fact that there’s no settled definition for superfoods is what first rings alarm bells. In a general sense, a “superfood” is a food that is either high in a particular nutrient or has some apparent health benefit. Sounds a bit wishy washy to us. Superfoods are a marketer’s dream — any food can be called a “superfood” if framed in a particular way.
Dark green leafy vegetables
These are packed full of nutrients and loaded with fibre, folic acid, calcium, magnesium and iron. They have been associated with better cardiovascular health, lower risk of dementia and even type 2 diabetes. They sound pretty super to you now, but if you’re force-feeding yourself cabbage day in and day out, the magic may soon wear off.
The perfect smoothie filler, breakfast bowl topping, and even a great dessert. Berries tend to be low in calories compared with some other fruits and are rich in polyphenols. For those of us that don’t speak nutritionist, polyphenols are the colours in fruits , and they have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Salmon for its long chain omega-3 fatty acids
People with a higher intake of oily fish often see a lower risk of heart disease and better brain health as they get older.
This is for the chocolate lovers. Though we all know that true chocolate lovers are all for milk chocolate. None of that high-cocoa nonsense for us. Sorry dark choc lovers.
Anyway, dark chocolate, like berries, is loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants. Therefore, dark chocolate consumption is associated with better heart health, lower blood pressure and better memory and mood. Sadly, dark chocolate is still high in calories, but you don’t need loads of it to reap the benefits.
Avocado is known for its heart-health unsaturated fat and minerals like magnesium, but Richie just isn’t here for them. He clearly missed the avocado and poached egg on toast hype. We’re getting huge red flag vibes from Richie after this.
It’s important to note, Richie doesn’t have too much against the green beauty that brought us guacamole. He’s just not into it. Each to their own we guess.
How the "spice of life" benefits our hearts, minds and fights off inflammation.
Yes, they contain unsaturated fats, which are good for heart health, and fibre, which is great for gut health, so they’re all the hype at the moment. And rightly so. They’re also high in omega-3 fatty, acids which aren’t very easy to find in other foods, unless you’re a huge oily fish fan.
The spice that gives so many curries their distinctive yellow colour. And be warned: if you’re going to cook with it, it’ll turn all your wooden spoons yellow. It’s been the star of the show of many recent scientific studies, which have focused mainly on its anti-inflammatory effects. The evidence isn’t totally conclusive, but it’s damn tasty in a curry — if it happens to be full of benefits, even better.
In honesty, Richie really isn’t that bothered if you fill your boots with chia seeds, avocado, salmon and berries — and if you do, great, as long as you do so alongside a balanced diet.
Take Home Message
All of these foods make a great addition to a well-balanced diet. But next time a food is claimed to be “super”, consider doing your own research to find out why. If you don’t like chia seeds and are just chowing them down for no reason other than their benefits, then they’re not that super for you personally. “Superfood” gives the impression that they’re foods you must eat, but that isn’t the case. It’s fake news. If you can add them in to your diet, great. If not, you shouldn’t stay up at night worrying about it.