What is a Superfood ?

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A Superfood, like Superman is not real. It is a phrase invented by companies selling food products to influence consumers to buy their product. And it works!

What comes to mind? Coconut oil for sure has been splashed around as a superfood in recent years. Kale? Blueberries? Spinach? Flax seeds? Wheatgrass? There has been some very clever marketing done lately!

I am not saying that these foods are bad for you. I am saying that they do not perhaps possess the magical powers that you have been led to believe!

Coconut oil. Not a food I would recommend to anyone with its high fat content. But if you like it, go for it in sensible portions. Foods that are high in fat are high in calories no matter how super foody the ad says they are. A bit like avocados which are also high in fat. These foods are higher in healthy fats, but the bottom line is they are high in fat. Anyone sitting down eating a full avocado could consume over 200kcal, that’s before we even count the toast or whatever you are serving it with. Any food with high fat content whether its coconut oil or olive oil or any fat should be consumed in small portions because of the calories. Definitely choose the healthier fat, but more is not better.

Dark green leafy vegetables are without doubt extremely nutritious. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. And antioxidants that have health benefits.  But don’t ignore all the other lovely greens in the vegetable aisle and reach just for the spinach. Unless of course you are Popeye!

Nuts and seeds also do deserve the title. They are rich in healthy fats, protein and fibre. They too are rich in antioxidants. But again, they can be high in calories and like with any healthy fats people need to be mindful of that.

Wheatgrass and blueberries are also nutrient dense foods. But what gets overlooked in all the hype about these Superfoods is that a lot of the foods we have grown up with are just as Super: Eggs. Homemade brown bread. Porridge. Yoghurt. Cabbage. Salmon. Seaweed. Soup. Traditional Irish foods. Foods that are available locally and don’t require an aeroplane to get to your plate. Sometimes I think we want the best foods to be exotic and new and a bit more exciting than something we ate at our grandmothers table.

But don’t be fooled by clever marketing.

Traditional Irish wholefoods are the Superfoods in my book!