In recent years, ‘superfoods’ have been recognised as those with a particularly high nutrient content that confer health benefits over other foods. While this is not completely inaccurate, it’s important to look closely at the scientific evidence around the superfood status of these foods.
Studies are often carried out in vitro or on animals, and usually involving much larger amounts of the food in question than would generally be eaten. In addition, foods are often studied in isolation, which does not correspond to how they are consumed in real life.
There’s also a great deal of evidence to suggest that co-consumption of foods can increase the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from them. For example, foods high in carotenoids such as carrots, spinach, kale and pumpkin, should ideally be cooked and eaten with oil to ensure the nutrients are absorbed most effectively.
In addition, the media has focused it ‘superfood’ attention on foods such as blueberries, pomegranate and acai berries, while ignoring the nutrient density and health-promoting properties of everyday foods such as broccoli, onions, apples, wholegrains, beans, nuts and seeds.