Are Superfoods Worth The Hype?
Whether you’re seeing algae-rich smoothies and juices all over your feed, you feel like you should be swapping your pasta for quinoa, or you’re stuck thinking, “what even is matcha and why is everyone drinking it?”, you’ll likely be aware of the superfood trend that seems to be circling the globe!
Influencers seem to be pushing them our way via recipe Reels, hemp appears to have been added to every product out there, and wholefood shops are popping up here there and everywhere, but should we truly be buying into the superfood hype or is it selling us a false premise?
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the world of superfoods and let you know which foods are hype and which ones really can do you good! So, read ahead and let’s start feeling super, together!
What Is A Superfood?
The term “superfood” is actually a pretty new one, so if you don’t actually know what it means, don’t panic, you’re not alone! Superfoods are foods that have particularly high levels of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and antioxidants.
These types of foods also tend to provide their own unique and wide range of health benefits, hence the consumption of certain superfoods are often prioritised by people that struggle with certain aspects of health.
However, generally, aside from providing a substantial dose of micronutrients, superfoods are famed for reducing levels of inflammation, reducing stress levels, reducing blood pressure, and improving energy levels.
But, do these types of foods actually work? Or is it just a bit too much hype and some good influencer marketing?
Let’s take a look!
The Most Popular Superfoods Out There And Whether They’re Truly Super or Just Hype :
Are you ready for a breakdown of all the most popular and hyped-up superfoods out there? Well, you better be ready! We’re going to take a look at some of the most popular superfoods out there and come to a conclusion about whether they’re worth it, or worth staying on the shelf!
Matcha is everywhere at the moment, but fortunately, for the right reasons! Matcha comes from the same plant as the green tea plant, Camellia sinensis.
It has higher levels of chlorophyll than green tea due to farming methods, meaning that it’s packed with antioxidants called catechins - they help natural antioxidants and help to reduce the likelihood of radical change within the body and as well as push toxins from the body.
Alongside the powerful antioxidants in matcha, it also helps to boost cognitive function, improves the appearance of the skin, and improves energy levels.
So, although some may assume matcha is just another overhyped green drink, it actually truly does pack a punch!
How much to consume: 1-2 cups per day
How to consume: As a powder mixed with water or within a smoothie/juice.
Hype or Truly Super: Truly wonderful!
Spirulina is one of the most popular supplements worldwide and you’ll likely have not only heard about it, but about the wide range of benefits that are associated with it! But, can this tiny algae really improve your health?
On record, spirulina was first used by the Aztecs to improve energy levels, so its usage dates way back, and clearly, this ancient community really knew their stuff - spirulina is actually incredibly beneficial and can definitely improve certain aspects of health, you just have to consume it in the right dose!
Spirulina doesn’t just provide high levels of protein, vitamin B1,2, and 3, Copper, and iron, but it also contains high levels of the powerful antioxidant, Phycocyanin.
Phycocyanin fights inflammation in the body, reducing the likelihood of radical change (which causes various illnesses, including cancers). So, it doesn’t just provide you with a wide range of essential micronutrients, but it actively combats inflammation in the body and protects you and your health as a whole.
How much to consume: 1-3 grams daily
How to consume: Either as a powder or capsule.
Hype or Truly Super: Spirulina is truly super!
Wheatgrass shots seem to be popping up all over the place, but what really is wheatgrass and why are we all drinking it faster than a G&T on a Friday evening?
Wheatgrass is literally what it sounds like - it’s young grass from the wheat plant.
This grass is packed with iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, and a whole host of enzymes and amino acids! It’s also packed with antioxidants and is supposed to hello with weight loss, boost metabolism, and support the immune system.
Although wheatgrass certainly sounds like it’s going to supply you with a boost of benefits, and in fairness, it might, there has been limited research into the properties of wheatgrass and therefore it can’t be either confirmed or denied that it will definitely provide health benefits.
So, if you’re willing to give wheatgrass a go, do it! However, if you’re someone that likes to know that what they’re consuming will actually provide them with benefits, you may want to look towards another superfood!
How much to consume: 3 grams daily
How to consume: Either as a juice shot, in a powder, or in a capsule. However, juice shots are less likely to provide you with an adequate dose of wheatgrass and may contain sugar!
Hype or Truly Super: Wheatgrass may be super, but we’d like some more research to back it up!
Leafy Greens: Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens, etc
Whether you feel like you should be adding kale to your otherwise delicious morning smoothie or you feel pushed into cooking spinach by everyone raving about its benefits, the love of leafy greens is all around. But, are leafy greens really superfoods?
The main benefit when it comes to leafy greens is that they don’t just supply you with micronutrients (if consumed in whole food form), but they provide you with macronutrients too! This means that it’s not just essential vitamins and minerals you’re consuming, but protein, fibre, and complex carbohydrates.
Although each leafy green has its own specific list of micronutrients it provides and aspects of health it supports, leafy greens are generally high in vitamin K, iron, folate, and fibre.
Therefore, they are incredibly powerful when it comes to reducing the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease - research even backs this up sufficiently!
So, although leafy greens might not be the tastiest (although you can certainly find plenty of recipes out there to make them taste good!), and they might not be the most spoken about type of superfood, they are one of the easiest to source, cheapest to buy, and most beneficial out there!
How much to consume: This differs depending on the specific leafy green. However, generally, 2 cups per day of leafy greens is sufficient.
How to consume: Either fresh (raw or cooked) or as a powder. However, fresh is always best as powders might not provide sufficient doses of the green you’re wanting to benefit from!
Hype or Truly Super: Leafy greens are truly super!
Although there are berries that are celebrated as superfoods more than others, it’s actually best to take a look at them as a whole as they generally provide the same type of micronutrients and benefits!
Overall, berries are typically known for providing high levels of antioxidants, therefore reducing inflammation and protecting the body from radical change. They’re also super useful when it comes to supporting heart health - they help to lower blood pressure, chloestrol levels, and they reduce oxidative stress.
The problem with seeing berries as superfoods is that we seem to have all been sold this idea that the most beneficial berries we should be consuming are acai and goji berries and that other berries simply don’t matter anymore. Unsurprisingly, these types of hyped-up berries are the most expensive and hard to find!
Whilst it’s certainly true that acai and goji have their benefits, all berries are great for you! In fact, the standard berries that you’ve probably loved and consumed since you were a child - blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries - all have their own list of health benefits associated with them and they’re also packed with antioxidants!
So, whilst berries are great and can certainly provide powerful benefits, there isn’t really any need to go out of your way to hunt down and spend a concerning amount of money on acai - what you already have in the fridge is more than good enough!
How much to consume: This differs depending on the specific berries you’re consuming, but generally, 1 cup per day of berries is sufficient.
How to consume: Fresh.
Hype or Truly Super: Berries are definitely super - but don’t worry too much about getting the bougiest berries going!
Roots + Adaptogens: Turmeric, Ashwagandha, and Ginger
Whether it’s in our skincare products or packed into that mixed superfood supplement powder that you’ve been eyeing up, turmeric is everywhere!
Turmeric has been a staple in Indian and South-East Asian cooking for centuries, and for good reason! Turmeric is one of the most powerful herbs out there and it provides a wide range of benefits, all of which have been researched, documented, and proven time and time again (trust me, you can feel the effects of turmeric on a cold within a few hours!).
The main active compound within turmeric is curcumin, which not only provides incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, but which actively improves heart health, relieves the symptoms associated with arthritis, and supports mental health.
Turmeric is definitely a superfood you should be adding to your daily diet in any way you can!
How much to consume: 500mg - 2g
How to consume: Fresh (grated, cooked, or infused in water to create tea), in powder form, or in capsule form.
Hype or Truly Super: Turmeric is one of a kind - truly a superfood we should all be getting behind!
Ashwagandha is one of the most underrated adaptogenic herbs out there!
Adaptogens are types of herbs that actually adapt the way that your body responds to stressors, both short term and in the long run.
Therefore, ashwagandha is particularly potent when it comes to reducing anxiety and stress levels. It can also boost mental health and improve sleep, promoting an improvement in the level of overall health (both physical and mental) that you experience.
How much to consume: 1g daily.
How to consume: Capsule form.
Hype or Truly Super: Not hyped up enough - ashwagandha is truly remarkable!
Ginger, much like turmeric, has been used for centuries both in cooking and in medicine!
Ginger also has incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory benefits and offers high levels of antioxidants, which help to not only push toxins from the body and protect the body from radical change, but lower stress levels too.
Aside from those benefits, ginger also helps to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and can help with reducing symptoms of colds, cramps, and nausea.
How much to consume: Up to 4g daily.
How to consume: Steeped in hot water or capsule form.
Hype or Truly Super: A truly superb herb!
Ancient Grain: Quinoa
Quinoa is making its way into our salads, being added to recipes in replacement of pasta, and is deemed as the ultimate food for people that care about their health - hmm!
Although quinoa is a great type of gluten-free and plant-based food that delivers high levels of fibre and protein, it’s definitely a bit overhyped!
The main reason why people seem to love quinoa is the fact that it’s a great way to consume high levels of insoluble fibre (the kind that keeps you feeling fuller for longer and can help with weight loss), and protein (which can be especially helpful if you’re vegan or vegetarian and don’t have enough protein in your diet).
Although consuming enough fibre and protein is clearly important, problems can occur if you consume too much quinoa. Too much quinoa can actually result in stomach pains, stomach upset, and bloat - that doesn’t sound too super to me!
If you’re wanting to consume quinoa, do it, but just make sure that you’re not consuming too much. If you really don’t like quinoa and would prefer pasta or rice, maybe just stick with what you like.
How much to consume: One-two cups per day.
How to consume: Cooked.
Hype or Truly Super: Overhyped but still useful - unlike other superfoods, it’s not got a huge list of benefits or micronutrients associated with it. However, it can still provide benefits as long as you don’t eat too much!
A Little Note About Seeds
Although not all nuts and seeds are deemed superfoods, it’s important to take a moment to point out that chia seeds and hemp are amongst some of the most popular superfoods out there. So, let’s just talk a little bit about them!
Chia seeds are incredibly high in both antioxidants and fibre, promoting lower cholesterol and blood pressure, whilst pushing toxins from the body and supporting the gut. They’re truly a great addition to any meal (just remember to soak them first!).
Hemp seeds are another great addition to your diet that will support your heart-health. Packed with fatty acids, including both omega 3 and omega 6, hemp seeds support heart health by reducing cholestrol levels and blood pressure too!
Don’t overlook seeds - they’re super powerful and should definitely be up there with your other favourite superfoods!
Clear On Which of These Superfoods Are Worth It?
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the most popular superfoods out there and decided whether or not they’re truly super or overhyped, hopefully, you can enter that next health food store with ease, knowing what you should be buying and what is simply good marketing!
As with everything, it’s important to say that your personal preferences and tastes are yours to enjoy. So, don’t feel compelled to fill your basket with superfoods, don’t think that you need to eat something that you truly can’t stand just to feel “healthy”, and remember that not every meal needs to be turned into a healthy version of itself.
It’s all about balance, baby, balance.
Disclaimer: this article is here for educational purposes only and we are not giving active advice. You should always seek the advice and support of medical professionals if you have queries about your health or want to change your lifestyle dramatically.