You may have heard the term ‘Superfood’ before. Superfoods began gaining popularity in 2013 and have since become a household name. But what is a superfood?
Oxford Dictionary defines superfood as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”, while Merriam-Webster explains superfoods as, “food that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health”. Food commonly labeled as superfoods include blueberries, avocado, salmon and so on.
However, there’s one thing you have to know about superfoods — the term superfood itself is a marketing term created by media and the public that is rarely used by scientists, experts, or nutritionists. There are no criteria determining what a superfood is and what it is not. Similar marketing strategies have been used with milk manufacturing in the 1920s. Milk was advertised as a necessary “golden food” for human health even though the contamination and hygienic problems were severe at the time. The real question is, are superfoods really that super?
The marketing and labeling of ‘superfoods’ can easily persuade consumers to believe in all the proposed benefits of a superfood. This overemphasis on the value of a superfood may result in higher prices. In reality, the actual products after deep processing have already lost a lot of their nutrition by the time they make it to the grocery store. According to Despina Hyde, a registered dietician with the weight management program at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, although consuming foods that are packed with nutrients is certainly a good idea, the key to a healthy diet is to consume a variety of nutrients foods in the right quantities.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean superfood is a meaningless term. Listing foods with rich and top nutrients, the term ‘superfoods’ provides a good starting guide to planning one’s healthy diet. Since the human body and health are always complicated, you should plan a diet based on your own needs and what works for you.
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Photo provided by Bernard Dupont
Guest Post Written by Can Wang, Class of 2020, Dining Team Green Sustainability Coordinator