Health Chatter: Are superfoods really super?

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There are many claims that certain foods are ’superfoods’ and hold miraculous health benefits, but are these claims true, and do superfoods really live up to the hype?


The short answer, is no.

The long answer looks at the amount and quality of evidence that supports these claims.

An NHS report on the subject states that there is no official definition of a “superfood”, and this lack of a benchmark allows scientists and companies to set their own standards to suit their findings.

Some of the research into ‘superfoods’ examines food extracts in much greater quantities than you would typically eat in one day, or even one week. This means that even if there were some magical benefits to eating one particular food, you’d have to eat so much of it that you may not have room for anything else in your diet! It’s not all a myth however, there is strong evidence to support the claim that oily fish is good for your heart health:


Which fish?

Examples of oily fish:

  • Salmon

  • Mackerel

  • Sardines

  • Pilchards

  • Fresh Tuna

  • Trout

  • Herring


raw salmon fillets on a wooden chopping board
The UK government recommends healthy adults eat one portion of oily fish a week, for example, salmon

Examples of non-oily fish:

  • Tinned Tuna

  • Cod

  • Pollock

  • Plaice

  • Haddock

  • Hake

  • Sea Bass


The UK government recommends healthy adults eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish (pregnant women should not exceed two portions each week).

This can be fresh, smoked or tinned.

Vegetarian substitutes include:

  • Flaxseed (linseed) oil (unheated)

  • Ground flaxseed (linseed)

  • Rapeseed oil (unheated)

  • Hempseed oil (unheated)

  • Hempseed

  • Walnuts


A bowl of walnuts in shells
Walnuts are a great vegan/vegetarian substitution for oily fish

Super Diet!

From another perspective, you could say there is a huge range of superfoods widely available. Pretty much everything you find in the fresh produce section of the supermarket for example!

Rather than focusing on one or two ‘superfoods’ which have little evidence of being better than other foods – the healthier option is to ensure you have a super diet.

Include a wide range of different fruits and vegetables, plenty of wholegrain carbohydrates like wholegrain bread and pasta, and lean proteins like turkey and fish.


The key is balance and moderation

No healthy food can ‘make up’ for unhealthy food. The best option is to make sure all your food is healthy in the first place, and then you’ll have a super diet.


Download the PDF here

Our sources and for more information:

https://www.nhs.uk/livewell

https://www.viva.org.uk


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