Have you ever been tempted to buy a product simply because it’s labelled a superfood? We would even be willing to wager that, if you're on the road to improving your health and quality of life, you have fallen for this trendy word every time you see it. Happens to the best of us. Because just the thought of a single product bringing together an entire host of properties is fascinating, isn't it? However, is there any truth to it or is it just a marketing gimmick? We found out and we’re here we to tell you about it.
A bit of truth, a bit of hype
Like everything else nowadays, the superfood trend is a mix of logic and hype, at least in origin. According to an article published in Harvard University's T.H. CHAN School of Public Health journal (1), the word superfood is older than we thought. Early records of its use show that, around World War I, a shrewd fruit exporting company used the term to boost banana sales. Sometime later, the idea was strengthened and became much more popular when doctors began recommending the fruit as medical support for certain issues. Since then, the banana has become the standard bearer of good health. In other words, the strategy worked. An important part of its success was due to the product itself. Bananas have many positive aspects; it is indeed a great food. And that's the key to real-life superfoods: offering all the benefits, without the frills.
Not all that glitters is gold
Today, the superfood fad is all the rage. The word alone sells, and a lot. But that does not mean that all so-called superfoods are super, even if the product has many qualities. To this day, there is no universal rule for considering a superfood. (2)
For most researchers, superfoods exceed the average nutritional value and possess multiple compounds and nutrients that support various aspects of our health, helping prevent diseases.
Additionally, they each contain all their benefits individualistically, without the need for additives – unlike functional foods, to which nutrients are added for enrichment.
The VIP list of superfoods
The consensus for qualifying or naming a superfood is found in the scientific research proving its benefits. Accordingly, among the products generally recognized as superfoods you will find blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, strawberries, chili peppers, garlic, ginger, camu camu, chlorella, chia seeds, flaxseed, quinoa, cacao, maca, mangosteen, wheat germ, kale, acai berries, hemp seeds, bee pollen, lucuma, matcha, noni, moringa, spirulina, coconut, olive oil, some of the edible mushrooms, and other exotic products.
Research shows that these foods may help lower the risk factors for metabolic syndrome (blood pressure, high blood sugar, abdominal fat, and high cholesterol and triglycerides), thereby decreasing the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. (2)
Below are some examples:
We know the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, among a long list of other benefits, that turmeric possesses are further enhanced in conjunction with ginger and pepper. Studies demonstrate that, in addition to helping with inflammation in the body in general, it counteracts metabolic syndrome, and supports joint pain, lipid management, and even anxiety. (3)
Nopal cactus is another product considered a superfood. In fact, some researchers consider it the food of the future because this simple cactus can be used for anything and everything! In addition to being an abundant source of fiber, some of its different varieties are used for benefitting the central nervous system, regulating blood pressure, hunger, and thirst, controlling sugar and indigestion, and even slowing down oxidative deterioration with its antioxidant properties. (4)
Maca is another food qualified for this selective list, thanks to its generous supply of nutrients like fiber, essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamin C, and various other minerals and bioactive compounds. Their health effects range from more energy, sexual health support, and neuronal protection to memory support, combating depression, and high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity (among other benefits). (5)
Remember, the category superfood is deemed by a copious contribution to overall health by a product found in nature. You can take advantage of a superfood on its own completely, without having to add anything else to it. This does not mean that you should limit your food choices to only those products. The key to good nutrition is to take advantage of the range of options that Mother Earth offers us, in all their colors and shapes.
Variety is not only taste, but good health.
Let's be healthier together.
Your Santo Remedio Team
1.Superfoods or Superhype? The Nutrition Source Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health, Harvard University
2. José J van den Driessche, Jogchum Plat, Ronald P Mensink. Effects of superfoods on risk factors of metabolic syndrome: a systematic review of human intervention trials
Review. Food Funct. 2018 Apr 25;9(4):1944-1966. doi: 10.1039/C7FO01792H. PMID: 29557436 DOI: 10.1039/C7FO01792H
3. Susan J. Hewlings, Douglas S. Kalman Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017 Oct; 6(10): 92. Published online 2017 Oct 22. doi: 10.3390/foods6100092. PMCID: PMC5664031. PMID: 29065496
4.Anoop A. Shetty, M. K. Rana, S. P. Preetham. Cactus: a medicinal food. J Food Sci Technol. 2012 Oct; 49(5): 530–536. Published online 2011 Jul 16. doi: 10.1007/s13197-011-0462-5
PMCID: PMC3550841. PMID: 24082263
5.Natália da Silva Leitão Peres 1 , Letícia Cabrera Parra Bortoluzzi, Leila Larisa Medeiros Marques, Maysa Formigoni, Renata Hernandez Barros Fuchs, Adriana Aparecida Droval, Flávia Aparecida Reitz Cardoso. Medicinal effects of Peruvian maca (Lepidium meyenii): a review. Food Funct. 2020 Jan 29;11(1):83-92. doi: 10.1039/c9fo02732g. PMID: 31951246 DOI: 10.1039/c9fo02732g
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