Sizing Up Super Foods

We are all mesmerised by the idea of ‘Super Foods’, but are they really all that good for you? The romanticised concept of luxury food products that claim to improve health, increase energy and make you live longer, has captivated us all. After all, who doesn’t want to say that they have super powers in their meals every day? Just kidding. But on a more serious note, what are these mysterious products and why are they so popular?

There are two sides to this argument. Yes, ‘super foods’ are a wonderful source of nutrition. Mostly, because they are raw, clean and rich in nutrients. Claims have been made that super foods are foods that provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals, and that they have more than a few benefits for one’s health. Ok, that all sounds great! But surely we can argue then that any fruit, vegetable or other clean fresh food could also be placed into the same category?

The truth is that in this day and age, we live in a world that is fast paced and competitive. All we want is food that is quick, convenient and allows us to move from one project to the next, get the kids sorted, get to the next rehearsal or be in time for that important meeting. We like knowing that we are buying the best quality products, following the most recent trends and staying informed. That is exactly what marketing companies are using as ammunition to keep us interested and loyally buying their clients’ stock.

Have you ever hear the term Gourmet or Artesian and wondered what the difference is? I certainly did, and when I read up on it, the basic understanding I came to was, that these words are used to describe products that are high in quality, rich in flavor and for the most part made in small batches, by unique specialized companies, often hand made and family owned, although not exclusively. My question is how then can you have a mass produced item with the same label attached to it?

I believe that the concept of Super Foods falls under the same umbrella. It is a very effective marketing tool and an attractive label to use when promoting a product. It’s all about the image and being fashionable. Let’s use quinoa as an example, in countries like South America quinoa has been a staple in their diet for hundreds if not thousands of years. They value the nutrition and energy it gives them, but its just food.

In countries like America, South Africa and Australia, to name but a few, quinoa is the height of trendy eating and, if you frequent any local restaurants in these countries quinoa dishes require a pretty penny. Not to mention the price tag is carries at the health stores. So I suppose it would depend ones perspective and where you come from.

This being said, it doesn’t mean that these so-called super foods aren’t good for you. No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am trying to highlight is that there is not an exclusive list of special brands that are considered super for your health, but rather that any wholesome, clean and natural food that offers your body the essential nutrients that it needs to perform well, could also be considered a super food.

Our bodies are fascinating and wonderful machines that need fuel to work. It is important to remember that one’s body only measures what you eat in terms of the nutrients it is receiving. If I eat a doughnut or chocolate, for example, my body knows that it is receiving quick release refined sugars. In response to this, it spikes my blood sugar (the high energy feeling you get when you eat sugary food) and this is generally followed by a huge energy drop. Whereas, if you eat brown rice, whole-wheat bread or oats, your body experiences a slower release of energy because of the fact that these foods contain fibre and the digestive system has to work hard to digest it. My point is that your body doesn’t know what it is you are eating, but rather the effect or reaction that that type of food has on it.

The moral of the story is… yes, ‘Super Foods” are great for your body. They are natural, clean and nutrient dense… the wonderful thing is that almost all fruits veggies and other healthy and affordable products that have been around for ages, also fall under this category. So go ahead and full your shopping cart with any food that is super for your body and your health.