What is a ‘superfood’?
Although ‘superfood’ has no set definition, it is widely accepted to be any food that delivers high quantities of nutrients that are especially beneficial to health and wellbeing.
Classic superfoods were usually selected on their antioxidant content, so fruits and vegetables high in vitamin A, C and E were pretty much guaranteed to secure superfood status. Bluberries, raspberries, and various other thin skinned fruits were superfood royalty due to their extra high antioxidant content needed to protect them from the sun in nature, much like the fruits very own sunscreen!
Superfood non- movers and new entry’s
Quinoa is a protein dense grain, superfood non- mover. Its superfood status stems from its amino acid profile and fibre content, but also for its lack of gluten and animal derivatives making it ideal for vegans (a demographic often deficient in protein).
Expect to see fresh faced varieties of protein dense grains making an appearance such as amarantha, teff, and Kaniwa (mini- quinoa) which actually offer more protein per gram than quinoa.
The paleo diet is one of the most common diets of 2015, and one of the main perks of this ‘hunter gatherer’ way of eating is dark chocolate. The antioxidant and catechin (phytochemical) content supports heart health, reduces risk of diabetes and even supports hair and skin integrity.
Another superfood for the fashion conscious is Moringa. Derived from the Moringa tree, this green superfood is thought to be a powerful anti- ageing food because of its high zeatin content. The leaves also contain complete proteins which make it another useful dietary source for vegans.
Not so fashionable superfoods
Fermented foods such as Sauerkraut, pickled garlic, pickled beets and kimchi are already making positive waves in the industry because of their digestive health properties. The fermentation process increases the healthy bacteria content, which in turn supports digestion, reduce inflammation and improve nutrient absorption.
Broccoli will have the superfood label firmly attached from now on. The cruciferous veg may give some people a bit of wind (especially if you eat the stalks), but it’s extremely high vitamin C and phytochemical content, as well as its relatively neutral taste makes the trouble all worthwhile.
The Superfood monopoly
New superfoods don’t have to be quirky or original to warrant the superfood title. The humble broccoli and brussel sprout did wonders for your parents and grandparents, and will continue to do the trick for future generations to come.
Tighter restrictions for 2015
The problem that I have with the ‘superfood’ label is its unsubstantiated, indiscriminate allocation on a manufacturer’s food range. Fortunately the EU have set health claim legislation to stop unsubstantiated claims being made willy nilly, with the sole purpose of making money.
Are superfoods that important?
Superfoods are great, but believe me when I say that they are not the be all and end all of your diet. Yes they are very useful, but a diet that is balanced i.e. delivers a consistent intake of protein, starchy carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables will do the trick nicely…problem is, you can’t package this and sell it!