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Super, Why?

December 29, 2015

Super, Why?

I recently received two gifts: a smoothie recipe book, and a "nutrient extractor" or specialized blender designed to blend fruits and vegetables into a puree. Both of these products reference the term superfood in their promotional materials. "Turns any food into a superfood!" trumpets a tag line on the box of the blender. "Superfood in seconds" highlights one of the smoothie recipes.

While I find that both of the gifts have great value, the use of the term superfood in their marketing materials is erroneous and misleading.

As someone who has experienced incredible health benefits from incorporating true superfoods into my daily diet, I am passionate about protecting the integrity of the term superfood. As a holistic health counselor and the owner of an organic superfood supplement company, I am frequently asked the question, "What is a superfood?

Unlike the term certified organic, that denotes there are a set of standards to which a product must adhere to be considered organic - no pesticide use, healthy soil, cleanliness standards in handling, etc. - the term superfood does not have such standards in place. Alas, it's definition remains nebulous and is open for misuse, abuse and bastardization – think, “eco”, “green” “natural” and “environmentally friendly” for reference.

I will begin the exploration of defining the term superfood by highlighting a couple clear examples of what a superfood is not.

A superfood is not:

  1. A food that has been altered from its original state to be consumed in a different form.
  • In the example of the blender, the beneficial attribute of blending a whole food to deliver it to your body in a manner in which the nutrients of that food may be more easily absorbed is great, but does not turn an “ordinary” food into a “superfood.”
  • Another example where I have seen the term superfood misused is with yogurt that has been strained to offer more protein. This is an example of a processed food, not creating a “superfood.”
  1. A food product that has added something to its original state as to provide something more.
  • This is generally known as an enriched food. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are added to packaged foods constantly to improve consumer claims regarding their nutritional value. Have a look at cereal, bread and milk labels next time you are in a grocery store.

In my next post, I will shift gears and begin defining what makes a true superfood, truly super.

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