When it comes to food and our diet, we are constantly receiving mixed messages about the healthiest foods to eat. Where ever we turn, we are confronted by an array of products all with a variety of health claims. The food industry is fully aware that we all want to be healthy and raise healthy children, so health claims usually attract consumer support. However, it is often the very products that make these health claims that are THE most processed and in fact contribute very little, if anything, to good health and wellbeing. Now we have a new wave of health claims in the form of ‘super foods’ that have inundated the health food industry (and I’m sure the processed food industry isn’t too far behind)! So are ‘super foods’ indeed super?
I believe that it is the simple things in life that are important. Every whole, real food provided by nature really is super! The more whole the food and the less human intervention that has taken place before it reaches your plate, the better it is going to be for you. It doesn’t necessarily have to hail from some deep dark corner of the Amazon to possess super health benefits. In fact, a humble fruit or vegetable grown organically from a nearby farm may just yield as much goodness and have more of its life force intact, than a super food that has been processed into a powder and travelled some distance before being packaged and sold for top dollar.
However, many of the foods hailed as ‘super’, do indeed have impressive nutrient profiles; chia seeds, quinoa, cacao and coconut oil are personal favourites. However some other ‘super foods’, especially the berries and roots, must be processed in order to be preserved and this is often at a significant cost to their health giving nutrients.
‘Super foods’ form a very small part of a much bigger picture. That is, you can’t eat a largely processed diet and supplement with an Amazonian fruit powder and expect long lasting health and vitality. There are no short cuts and no fast fixes when it comes to maintaining good health. Also bear in mind that what may help to make one person feel fabulous, may not suit another. This is the case especially with those products touting a variety of medical claims. Please also be very cautious of super foods that are mixed into very sweet, smoothies or ice cream bowls. These are treat foods, not health foods and the energy boost you experience from these concoctions is most likely due to the sugar content!
So before you spend your hard earned dollars on any food, even super foods, please consider the processing it has undergone. At the end of the day, simply sharing a variety of seasonal, local, whole foods with friends and family and creating delicious food memories is all that you really need to live a healthy, happy life.