Here we take a look at
critically-acclaimed ‘superfoods’ in an attempt to distinguish how good they
are actually are for your body.
Maintaining a healthy diet is something we all know we should be doing. Drinking lots of water,
eating your 5-a-day and making sure you regularly exercise sounds pretty
straightforward, but in reality, we often let these factors slip.
Consuming superfoods, as well as your everyday fruit and veg,
is a great way to boost your immune system and general health, as they are
Avocados, spinach and lentils are some of the more
well-known superfoods, full of protein, vitamin K and monounsaturated fatty
acids (MUFA). However, in recent years the list of these ‘so-called’ superfoods
has grown substantially, with many health claims being made about a range of
foods. But how accurate are these claims, and is there actually any evidence
We look to discover the truth behind superfood myths.
Many of us lead a very busy lifestyle, so finding the time
to buy and cook healthy dishes from scratch can often seem impossible when
faced with the convenience of grabbing a three minute microwavable meal, or
opting for a quick oven dish. But even if the food we eat isn’t as healthy as
it could be, drinking healthy smoothies or teas could be a quick and easy
Green tea, for example, contains B vitamins, folate and
antioxidants and many people drink it because they believe it helps them lose
weight. However, reviews and studies on green tea show no evidence that it is
linked to weight loss.
Health enthusiasts have also argued that the drink reduces
cholesterol and prevents cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, but according to the
British Dietetic Association (BDA), there is no evidence of this.
On the other hand, wheatgrass is more beneficial, containing
chlorophyll, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, calcium and magnesium.
However, although there is no doubting that a wheatgrass tonic is good for you,
the NHS claims that the nutrient content of the juice is pretty much equivalent
to that of common vegetables like broccoli or spinach.
Alison Hornby, a dietitian and BDA spokesperson, commented:
"There is no sound evidence to support the claim that wheatgrass is better
than other fruits and vegetables in terms of nutrition.
"Although it contributes towards your recommended daily
intake of fruit and veg, a single shot of wheatgrass doesn't count as one of
your 5-a-day. But if you're a big fan, you could combine a shot with a fruit or
Blueberry fans believe that the fruit helps protect against
heart disease, some cancers and is even believed to improve memory.
Nutritionists claim that with its high level of antioxidants, if a person wants
to make only one change to their diet, it should be to include blueberries.
Research surrounding claims of cancer prevention and
improved memory hold little verification and remove blueberries from the
superfood category. Yet nevertheless, blueberries are tasty choice of fruit and
will count as one of your 5-a-day. They are proven to be low in calories while
high in nutrients, including phenolic compounds.
But are blueberries healthier than beetroot juice?
Historically, beetroot has been used medicinally for a number of illnesses,
including fevers, constipation and general skin problems. In recent years,
health claims say that beetroot can prevent dementia, boost exercise
performance and decrease blood pressure.
Research has been conducted that concluded that beetroot
juice was associated with a modest reduction in blood pressure. However,
according to BDA, additional long-term trials would be required in those at
larger risk of heart disease before beetroot can be fully classified as
Goji berries have been used in Chinese medicine for
thousands of years and have more recently proven extremely popular superfoods
among celebrities and models. But with such a high cost, is there truth behind
Evidence here comes from scientific studies that use
purified extracts of the fruit at a higher concentration than the product
actually contains. Actual comprehensive evidence remains to be seen and experts
recommend that we stick to eating a range of fruits and veg rather than
spending on one item with no proven health benefits.
Of course, eating large amounts of chocolate is never going
to be good for your health. Despite this, some types of chocolate in moderation
are believed to be good for you. Deriving from the Kuna Indians of Panama,
cocoa is known to reduce blood pressure that in turn causes heart disease and
Dark chocolate specifically contains high levels of cocoa.
Cocoa is a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc and
also contains the antioxidants catechins and procyanidins. Bearing this in
mind, Ms Hornby believes it is important to remember that studies on health
benefits of chocolate often focus on cocoa extracts, rather than chocolate