SUPERFOOD: WHAT IT IS EXACTLY AND WHAT IS THE TRUTH
We have heard a lot about superfood. However, what are superfoods and what is true in defining them healthier than other foods?
In less than a month, starting from August 1, 2018, we could count 22 newspaper publications about the topic of superfood. All the major Italian newspapers have dedicated more or less long articles about it.
On the web, then, needless to say: websites of all kind have gone wild and have competed to give the superfood award to the most diverse dishes.
The pici (variety of pasta) is a superfood. The coconut was a superfood, and today its milk is pure poison (word of Karin Michels, Harvard researcher). The aronia berries (what’s that?) are superfoods; the algae are superfoods.
Well, there’s everything in the cauldron. But what is this superfood?
The term refers to food (there are those who don’t agree on this use to indicate these foods) that are super-nutrient and therefore bring super benefits to the human body.
So we had to wait for the more technological era of History to understand that Popeye’s spinaches really exist.
In fact, scientifically the much-vaunted super-quality of these dishes are often unsure, created in the laboratory by a vast number of marketing specialists.
According to serious studies, in fact, many of these foods do not deserve their fame. In other cases, when the qualities and benefits are remarkable, they are not dissimilar from others contained in less popular, exotic and, coincidentally, expensive foods.
Some examples …
Goji berries, miraculous Chinese berries are known to increase libido, strengthen the immune system and provide benefits of all kinds.
How much of this is true? It is true that Goji berries have high levels of zeaxanthin (7.38 mg per 100 grams of product), an enzyme that fights the degeneration of ocular tissues. Unfortunately, however, spinach contains as much as 12 mg per 100 grams. And vitamin C? The lemon wins very easily. The price? 16 euros per kg for berries, 1 or 2 euros for spinach.
Goji berries are just an example, but history repeats itself with other exotic products, more useful for vegetarians, who must necessarily assimilate certain nutrients that omnivores get in a more traditional way.
Let’s think about edible algae that have no particular value for the content of calcium, iodine, and iron (for all three nutrients there are foods much more gifted and less expensive) while they are essential, in a vegetarian diet, for their vitamin B 12.
Furthermore, the superfood trend can also bring economic benefits to those areas that traditionally deal with minor crops.
It is the case of the Apulia region and the cabbage, the American kale that in the United States, from 2013 until now, has seen an increase in its turnover by 40%.
A vegetable that seemed to be one step away from extinction, the healthy turning point of Western societies has given it a second chance. Great chefs use it for their recipes and celebrities make extensive use of it (Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Heidi Klum are passionate sponsors).
The real benefits? It releases glucose and isothiocyanates, stimulating enzymes with an anti-carcinogenic effect. Nothing transcendental, however, compared to his close relatives. On the contrary, Brussels sprouts have more glucosinolates than the kale. But, better do not mention it: trends are good for the markets more than they do for us Vogue healthy types.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)