Spare us the bumf, guff and waffle about superfoods

Lifestyle

SPILLING THE BEANS

Spare us the bumf, guff and waffle about superfoods

Take the supposed health benefits with a pinch of salt

Andrea Burgener

The New Superfoods for 2018 are out! Revealed by food bloggers and lifestyle mags, showcased in juice bars at the poshest gyms and the sort of restaurants that serve Buddha bowls and call themselves wellness cafes (which is fit only for the German word Brechmittel). 
If you have the combination of some surplus cash, a keen interest in food trends and a personal trainer or nearby wellness café, you probably know what these foods are already. The rest of us must pay attention, because we don’t want to be eating un-superfoods the whole year, do we?
So, look out for cassava flour, maqui berries, tiger nuts, heme, maca root, hemp (the useless sort), and lucuma (from Peru of course).But hang on a minute. What happened to the superfoods of 2017? Did they go vrot so quickly? Are chia seeds not enough? Is kale not doing the job? How about coconut? It seems they’re not so super now. Or perhaps – gasp of horror – is it possible that they were never that miraculous in the first place? What, actually, is a superfood? Well it’s just an edible item that someone (who?) has suddenly touted as extra nutritious, extra special, and often anti-aging.
The bottom line, though, is that there is simply no proof at all that the supers of either 2017 or 2018 are super or even upstanding. Not an ounce. Check out the footnotes and “research” cited in most superfood articles, and what you get ranges from deeply underwhelming to outright refutations of the main article. One thing almost all of these items have in common is the price tag. There’s no such thing as cheap superfood. Isn’t that interesting? Moringa powder – which I guess we should be extra keen about as it’s an African superfood – comes in at R900 per kilo. That’s way more than Iberica ham, which is no budget snack in anyone’s book.This would all be plain funny if there wasn’t the potential for harm. What I mean is that sometimes someone will go down the superfood road, encouraged by “natural healers” (who at this point might include anyone with a blog or who teaches meditation, or even works the till at the health shop) instead of getting actual medical help. Don’t get me wrong. I’m the last person to believe that allopathic medicine has all the answers. Or that our mainstream “normal” diet is in any way alright. In fact both are horribly riddled with misinformation, corporate interest and nonsense. But that doesn’t mean large doses of Inca grains are the solution.  
More superfoods reading: as The Guardian wonderfully puts it: “Few lies can be told in one word, but Superfoods manages it.” Go to https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/ 2016/aug/29/truth-about-superfoods-seaweed-avocado-goji-berries-the-evidence. Also visit  https://www.quora.com/ Who-determines-which-foods-are-SUPERFOODS and see if you can determine anything of value in this fluff, which never cites its references. Plus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Superfood.Wiki often gets it wrong, but here they’re good.

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.

Next Article

Previous Article