There has been much talk about superfoods in recent years. The next label seems to be elevating the humble fruit that we are encouraged to eat, to the status of superfruit. There are several articles using this new appellation and it made me wonder why we need it. When is a fruit a superfruit? Who decides which fruit deserves the upgrade?
I decided to look for guidance on authoritative websites, but found very little of substance. On the National Health Service website for the UK, there is a 2011 article called Miracle Foods: Myths and the Media, about how the media can be responsible for confusing the public by running stories with little scientific weight behind them. The article also suggested that public relations firms responsible for getting the message out about a study, need to take care not to hype the results in an effort to get coverage for their client. Maybe we, as consumers, should be more adept at researching the actual health benefits of foods, although who has the time?
This is an extract from the Miracle Foods article from the NHS:
“There is no official definition of a superfood and the EU has banned the use of the word on product packaging unless the claim is backed up by convincing research. A number of well-known brands have been forced to drop the description. However, there are still some proponents of the term, in spite of its loose definition.
News headlines, meanwhile, abound with claims that certain foods have super health benefits. Celery, broccoli, jam, popcorn and cereals have all been hyped as superfoods in the past couple of years. Other foods are said to be packed with chemicals that can ward off major killers such as cancer and heart disease.
Of course, the truth is that these claims are almost always overstated. Unfortunately, research into the effects of single foods on our health is notoriously tricky to carry out. We have complex diets and it is difficult to disentangle the effects of one particular food or compound from all of the others we consume. This means that many of the studies behind the superfood claims have limitations. These limitations are rarely reported in the media, and even more rarely given their true significance.”
It may be trite to say it, but eating a healthy, balanced and proportional diet including fruit, must be the way forward. Maybe we should be better at reading reports of the next faddish diet or superfood, with more of a critical eye. Perhaps it’s as simple as saying “where is the evidence for that?”
Another factor is listening to our own bodies and realising that we are the experts on ourselves. We are each unique, with different tastes and tolerances. Perhaps we should be more adept at tuning in to ourselves.
So when the next exotic fruit is termed a superfood and all the health benefits are expounded on the page for the world to see, I for one, am going to read it with more discernment. I may try that fruit and see if it benefits me personally. I may try digging a little deeper into the research and claims, to separate fact from hype. If the next fad seems implausible, then I am going to try and sidestep it and just eat nutritious food, in moderation.
Let me know what you think in the comments box below. Do you find it hard to separate the facts from the speculation when it comes to your food? I would love to hear your thoughts by commenting, reaching out on social media or by emailing me.