Are superfoods real?
The answer will surprise you…
The whole superfoods movement is more about marketing than it is about nutritional facts.
Today I’ll show you how to get all the same nutrients found in superfoods without having to search for any obscure items.
What makes a superfood a superfood?
Health Canada and the Food and Drug Association (FDA) in the US do not regulate Superfoods. Therefore, anyone who sells food in the Canadian or American market can slap the Superfood label on their goods. It’s not illegal. Immoral, probably. But not at all illegal.
In North American markets, Superfood labels tend to end up on imported food products. You don’t see Superfood labels slapped on foods you find at the local farm. This alone should raise alarm bells.
Superfood labels help manufacturers justify the high price tags associated with their products. These high price tags usually have more to do with the cost of importing and preparing the food than any Superfood property.
So when you see a superfood label, proceed with caution.
Are Superfoods real?
Take the acai berry as an example. The acai berry is the South American equivalent of a blueberry (though in my opinion not nearly as delicious!).
Both acai berries and blueberries are rich in polyphenols, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Both of the berries have similar sugar, fat, and fiber contents. Nutritionally, these two berries have a lot in common.
Yet I bet you think the acai berry is a Superfood and much better for you than a blueberry.
Marketing. That’s why. Blueberries and acai berries aren’t all that different. Except in price. Acai berries are far more expensive than blueberries.
Why would you pay 5x more for a South American berry that’s nutritionally equivalent to a blueberry?
Because you have been told acai berries are a Superfood and eating them will make you healthier. Don’t get me wrong, eating acai berries instead of potato chips will make you healthier. But so will eating blueberries instead of potato chips.
Just like in the supplement industry, marketing is what makes Superfoods. Eat real or whole foods instead of packaged and processed foods. That alone will make you healthier.
Spirulina and chlorella
These are two different types of algae. Spirulina is a blue-green algae. Chlorella is a green algae. Both algae are reported to have all sorts of wonderful health benefits including:
- Lowering cholesterol
- Increases your energy
- Fights cancer
- Lowers blood pressure
- Fights infection
- Balances your blood sugar
Sounds amazing – but none of these claims are scientifically supported. That’s more of the marketing hype.
But Mark, I read spirulina and chlorella have more protein than anything else on earth!
This is true. These algae do pack a large amount of protein! When dried, chlorella is about 45% protein. Spirulina is 51-71% protein.
Compare that to beef which is 17-40% protein depending on how fatty the cut is. Chicken is 27% protein. So, yes, these algae are composed of far more protein than beef or chicken.
However, if you want to get the same amount of protein from spirulina as a chicken breast, you’d have to consume more than 7 tablespoons (almost half a cup!) of the stuff. Gross!
Spirulina and chlorella absolutely contain more protein than chicken or beef. But no one is ever going to get 30 grams of protein from algae. It tastes horrible. At best, you’ll add a teaspoon to your smoothie. Don’t believe the hype. Spirulina and chlorella, while fine, are not Superfoods.
I don’t think there’s a Superfood more famous than goji berries. Just eat these berries and you’ll live well past 100. You’ll also experience:
- A more youthful appearance
- Increased strength and energy
- Lowered stress levels
- Alleviation of menstrual discomfort
- Healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and liver function
I took all of these claims from the book Goji: The Himalayan Health Secret by Dr. Earl Mindell. Dr. Mindell also claimed that goji berries could cure cancer.
Then Dr. Mindell’s company, FreeLife International, was sued for misleading marketing. There is NO evidence showing goji berries cure cancer.
Just like spirulina and chlorella, these claims are not scientifically supported. The marketing hype got so bad with goji berries that the FDA had to step in and stop two companies from promoting goji as a natural cancer cure.
Goji berries are said to be grown high in the Himalaya mountains of Nepal and Tibet.
In reality, goji berries can’t grow at high altitudes and 40% of the world’s goji berries are grown along the banks of the Yellow River in the Ningxia province of China.
Those expensive “wild Tibetan” goji berries are actually Chinese goji berries, grown in a place with a similar climate to southern France.
Goji berries do contain a great deal of dietary fiber. And plenty of vitamins and minerals. Gram for gram, goji berries have more nutrients in them than a blueberry or raspberry. But certainly not enough to make a radical change in your health!
To be clear, goji berries are fine to eat. Just don’t expect to reclaim your health by eating a handful every day.
A practical approach to Superfoods
Superfoods are unnecessary. You can live a long, happy, and – hopefully – cancer-free life without ever eating them.
More important than consuming Superfoods is avoiding super bad foods. Superbad foods are the ones that come in a bag or box and don’t rot. You’ll find them down the middle aisles of your local grocery store.
Forget about Superfoods altogether and focus on avoiding processed and packaged foods. You will increase the number of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals consumed. This will have a hugely positive impact on your health! Way more so than eating a handful of goji or acai berries ever will.
If you take nothing else away from this lesson, let it be to avoid the super bad foods. Do this one thing and you’ll improve your health. All without ever purchasing a Superfood!
Now, I want to hear from you!
How do you feel about superfoods?
What impact have superfoods had on your health?
Leave your answers in the comments section below!