Nutrition

Nutritionist’s Verdict On So Called ‘Superfoods’

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.

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Dark green leafy vegetables

This includes:

  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage

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.

Berries

This includes:

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries

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.

Oily Fish

This includes:

  • 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.

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Dark Chocolate

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

Controversy incoming…

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.

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Chia Seeds

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.

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Turmeric

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.

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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.

 

 

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.



Emily Wilcock

Emily Wilcock

Writer and expert

Emily is studying Business Management & Marketing at the University of Birmingham and is currently on her intern year. She has a keen interest in both writing and fitness, so is happy she can now combine the two. She likes to spend time with her friends, both in & out of the gym.


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