It is very confusing deciding which ‘superfood’ is going to change your life at the moment – everyone is an expert and each week there is a new one. One week it is blueberries and then acai, chia or goji. All at a price and driven in the background by clever niche marketing. ‘Health’ and ‘wellness’ sells.
Superfood can mean many things but often refers to a particular nutrient identified with special health properties such as an ‘antioxidant’. Different coloured fruits and veges give us these anyway so there are plenty of foods we might like the taste of better to do the job. Other superfoods give us fibre, another nutrient we can get from many sources. Those that claim ‘high in protein’ forget that lack of protein is not an issue in most of Australia.
Some foods are higher in particular nutrients than others but humans are omnivores made to survive. We evolved eating a variety of foods in different climates around the world that generally included grains, fruits and vegetables, foods with protein, minerals, fats and oils, and some food eaten purely for taste and pleasure. The body knows how to digest this food, obtain the necessary nutrition, build and repair body tissue, maintain health and get rid of ‘toxins’ naturally, no interference from us. This is built into our DNA.
When we do present the body with more of a particular nutrient than it needs this doesn’t mean we will achieve ‘better’ health. We only have limited storage of nutrients; excess is disposed of via the kidneys, liver or gut. Also one single food is not going to make up for an otherwise poor diet.
If the balance of foods we eat over time includes regular eating of a wide variety of sensible and available foods there is no problem with nutrition, just the worry and expense we create trying to control this process and get it ‘perfect’.
For some people though it is about trying to help a health issue we may have very little actual control over as this gives us hope and a sense of more control. This is fine so long as it is kept in perspective and doesn’t actually compromise overall nutrition and then the immune system.
We have a right to eat to our own taste preferences, budget and lifestyle choices without moral pressure to follow the latest, often expensive or unsustainable ideas. If you like a bit of experimenting and different tastes that is great, go for it. Just don’t forget to listen to your own body and trust its responses which may be unique to you. There is nothing wrong with carrots, egg and bananas for excellent nutrition. Even sugar and salt have their place. In my mind all foods are superfoods but no one food is super (or harmful) in itself.