I do not think I became aware of the fact that food could be considered ‘trendy’ until the discussion of superfoods came around. For years it appeared that kale was the end all be all. Every blog, restaurant and recipe I came around discussed the nutritional value of kale and how to incorporate it into your diet. Shirts were made with ‘kale’ emblazoned across the chest, and many celebrities championed the kale cause. It was only then that I began understand just how much food had become intertwined with pop-culture.
Kale was officially on trend, that is, until the quinoa stole its thunder. Quinoa had stole the scene, it had been dubbed a ‘superfood’. People rushed supermarket shelves in droves to purchase the highly nutritious seed, mistakenly dubbed a grain. The demand for the grain was so precipitous, many headlines claimed it made the seed inaccessible to those who relied on the Andean grain as a dietary staple for centuries. Superfoods wet beyond whole foods and grains. The title had grown to expand fruits, new and foreign, oils, seeds, capsules supplements and powders. It had generated an industry of its own.
While many eagerly embraced the new food classification, many scientists and health experts have shied away or outright shunned using the ‘superfood’ title. Many feel that the benefits of superfoods are not as pronounced as the industry would have many of us believe. In fact, some countries banned use of the term on any marketing without credible scientific research backing each of their claims.
So what is the deal with superfoods, you might ask? And is the hype worth the investment?
Superfoods are defined as a class of plants that are “potent, super-concentrated and nutrient-rich” (IIN Raw Foods Summary). Many superfoods contain a plethora of different micronutrients, often 3 or more. While most are identified by the amount of nutrients per serving or per calorie, some are also identified by their resilience to climate, like the moringa tree, or their resilience to altitude like the aforementioned quinoa.
Superfoods often tote anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory or alkalizing benefits. Because of how nutrient rich they are, many superfoods are highly recommended for those with dietary restrictions. For instance, for those not eating meat, superfoods like spirulina or chlorella contain more protein per gram than most sources of meat but they can be incredibly beneficial when incorporated into every diet.
Research has demonstrated the tremendous value of diversifying out foods and nutrient intake. The truth is, for many of us, our daily routines lead us to eat largely homogeneous foods based off of culture or upbringing. It is easy to fall into comfort and consistency when it comes to meal planning rather than incorporating new foods into our meal planning.
Embracing superfoods may be a simple way to achieve this without forcing a major shift into our meals. Using oils and supplements in your cooking, or adding a few blueberries into your morning smoothie can prove to be a great way to add a nutritious boost without compromising flavor or getting too far out of your comfort zone. Of course, the science still has a lot to demonstrate about whether or not superfoods are worth the hype, one thing that is for sure is there is no harm in increasing your micronutrient intake.
You can make simple adjustments by starting with purchasing more nutritiously dense produce before taking the plunge into supplements and extracts. Add more dark leafy greens and quinoa to your salad. Incorporate goji berries, flax and chia seeds to your smoothies and cook with coconut oil. These simple amendments can be the best way to sustain this new addition to your diet, and provide a great springboard for growth as you experiment further.
Also bear in mind that all of our bodies are different, and what some can take in large doses, others can’t take at all. Always make sure to listen to your body and be aware of how your digestive system, skin and energy levels respond to the foods that you are eating.
Lolade is a health enthusiast with a passion for empowering her communit(ies) to lead their best lives. She is a certifying doula and Health Coach on a mission to transform the standard of care in women’s health. You can follow her journey on Instagram: @lolvde.
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