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WHAT ARE SUPERFOODS ?
12 April 2017

WHAT ARE SUPERFOODS ?

Goji berries, Chia seeds, Moringa, Spirulina, Maca, Wheatgrass, Baobab….

More and more superfoods are making their appearance these last few years. What are they? Are they worth it?

 Simply put, superfoods are foods significantly more concentrated than the average in one or more nutrients (notably micronutrients) and/or which possess desirable active principles. For example, it is known that chia seeds are very high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 3, 6); that goji berries are rich in minerals, trace elements and in beta-carotene; that both chlorophyll and vitamin B12 are found in high concentrations in spirulina; etc… 

Inevitably, a commercial assault is launched around these products: some growers and distributors/retailers display exorbitant prices, present THEIR superfood as THE universal remedy, exaggerate claims on their benefits, or perform biased/irrelevant nutritional comparisons between superfoods and (non-super) foods.

Let’s try to separate fact and fiction:

To begin with, superfoods should really be called “foods” and most of today’s foods “sub-foods”. In this lastcategory we of course find all the refined, industrialized, overly cooked products, the least nutritious of all. But you should also know that many of the vegetables and fruits that are found on today’s stalls simply do not compare with their counterparts from 60 years ago (which we could nowadays present as superfoods). We encourage you to do the same thing we do: establish direct contact with growers in order to get produce grown on rich soil and harvested ripe.

Further, no food, be it “super” is superior to all others, nor the remedy for all evils. All are different and have unique properties. Moreover, each of us is unique, with specific needs: it is not because a food is considered “super” that it is exactly the one you need at all times.

Another thing is that many superfoods come from far away: China (Goji, Ginger), India (Turmeric), Peru (Physalis, Ginger, Maca, Camu-Camu, Lucuma), Equatorial Africa (Baobab, Moringa). This means that there is a certain financial and ecological cost in bringing them. Some local alternatives exist: flax seeds have a higher omega-3 content than chia seeds, for example.

Conclusion: In view of the price practices, nobody could afford to feed principally on superfoods (ecologically unenviable, but physiologically excellent). Superfoods should therefore be seen as good supplements to our diet (way better than pills *). Consume those you like, without losing sight of the fact that some are less "super" than others and that some (notably the local ones) are less fancy and therefore often cheaper.

But the key does not lie in superfoods, it resides in foods: It is not healthy to eat fast food and some superfoods as a complement; bet rather on a diet with a majority of healthy foods (fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts) of the best possible quality.

*discussed in an upcoming article