Why I Hate the Word Superfood

A single food that helps lower your blood pressure, prevent sudden heart attacks, or combat cancer? Seriously, c’mon. I’ve learned that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I get why the word “superfood” was coined – the non-official and non-scientific definition is that they’re foods with high levels of vitamins and minerals. And this is yet another food trend you won’t see me touting.

The focus on so-called “superfoods” gets us further and further away from the need to simply enjoy a variety of real, whole, traditional foods rather than breaking our food down into the specific nutrients it may or may not contain. We are one of the few societies that obsesses over tracking vitamins, minerals, protein, calories, fat grams and the like. And look where that’s gotten us.

Why I hate the word Superfood on 100 Days of Real Food

Food, Not Nutrients

We recently watched the new In Defense of Food documentary with our kids. (It’s a fabulous film by the way – I highly recommend it to everyone!). It was a great refresher of everything we learned in the book as well as a good compilation of some of the newer issues that have become more prevalent since it was written.

One of the major points Michael Pollan touches on is this:

Since nutrients, as compared with foods, are invisible and therefore slightly mysterious, it falls to scientists to explain the hidden reality of foods to us …which implies the need for a priesthood. For to enter a world where your dietary salvation depends on unseen nutrients, you need plenty of expert help. – Michael Pollan

Food is not meant to just be a delivery system of specific nutrients to ensure we achieve optimal health. Food is about so much more …enjoyment, community, family, culture, and even expressing yourself. How about this quote for “food” for thought?

No people on earth worry more about the health consequences of their food choices than we Americans do – and no people suffer from as many diet-related health problems. – Michael Pollan

So rather than having an unhealthy obsession with meeting our daily quota of certain vitamins, minerals and protein, let’s instead enjoy (appropriate quantities) of a variety of whole foods – including plenty of vegetables! – and let the rest fall into place. Thankfully the so-called “superfoods” are whole foods, some of which I enjoy on occasion. But I prefer to just refer to them as food, real food that is, and eat them for nothing other than enjoyment and pleasure.

Do you agree or having you gotten on the “superfood” bandwagon?

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36 thoughts on “Why I Hate the Word Superfood”

  1. Hello, Lisa,

    we produce superfoods, so I may be a little biased. Here in Germany we have many factors influencing the nutrient density of a food. In the 1990s we had acid rain that leached out the soil. That is why, for example, many people here have a selenium deficiency. Another example is organic vegetables, which have more antioxidants than conventional vegetables. So yes, eating should be fun, taste good, but in the end it should also be healthy and provide us with the necessary nutrients. Superfoods can help here.

    Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator

  2. Don’t eat too many cacao nibs or too much (also touted-superfood) deep dark chocolate: Chocolate also sucks many vital nutrients for teeth in bones in large quantities, due to its PHYTIC ACID content. Same with tea and coffee – caffeine depletes nutrients from your body too! I learned this the hard way after a tremendous toothache, thinking all the cacao and 80% dark chocolate I was eating (my only treat I was allowing myself) would reduce my inflammation. BOY was I wrong!!! I stopped all chocolate and caffeine, as well as unsprouted grains, and followed Ramiel Nagel’s ‘Cure Tooth Decay’ book. Best thing I ever did for that tooth I would had list over-eating a “Superfood”;)

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