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Is There Such Thing as a “Superfood”?

By Kevin Bryan

Searching up the word “diet” or “weight loss” in the internet search tab will bring up thousands of results. There is no doubt that an overweight America looks everyday for new techniques to drop a couple of pounds. However, instead of veering towards ample hours of sleep, a healthy eating regimine, and exercise, most people look towards the “easy” solution. They hope to find alleged “superfoods” that will help them to lose weight quickly and easily, without all the strife of a calorie deficit or a full body of sweat. In fact, superfoods have been branded to cater to this specific audience, with food magazines and books using them as an eyecatcher for their respective audiences.

Searching up the word “diet” or “weight loss” in the internet search tab will bring up thousands of results. There is no doubt that an overweight America looks everyday for new techniques to drop a couple of pounds. However, instead of veering towards ample hours of sleep, a healthy eating regimine, and exercise, most people look towards the “easy” solution. They hope to find alleged “superfoods” that will help them to lose weight quickly and easily, without all the strife of a calorie deficit or a full body of sweat. In fact, superfoods have been branded to cater to this specific audience, with food magazines and books using them as an eyecatcher for their respective audiences.

Superfoods have historically been used as a clever marketing tool. The earliest use of the term “superfood” was seen during WWI, when the banana was advertised as a “cheap, nutritious, easily digested, germ-proof food” in order to boost the import of bananas. Pamphlets and journals were published that illustrated all the benefits of the banana, including relief for celiac disease and diabetes. As a result, bananas became a staple of the American diet. In fact, the U.S. consumption of bananas became the highest in the world following this period.

The marketing value of superfoods is continued to be seen today at an even greater level due to the Internet and widespread media outlets. Billion dollar industries have emerged from marketing superfoods, as multiple studies have shown that consumers are much more willing to pay extra for foods that are tagged as “healthy”, and will eat certain foods as a measure to prevent future health problems. In 2015, foods that were labeled as “superfood”, superfruit”, or “supergrain” saw a 36% percent increase in sales, clearly exhibiting the strategic value of utilizing these branded terms on a profitability standpoint. Most startup companies related to the food industry are connected to these supposed “superfoods”, including pea protein, seaweed, ginger, turmeric, matcha, oats, barley, and chickpeas.

In reality, these superfoods are quite ineffective when eaten on their own. Only with a well-rounded diet that includes all the necessary food groups will the healthful results become noticeable. Trying to find the silver bullet as a panacea for all dieting problems usually ends in disaster, as the dieter may attempt to stick seaweed in their Coco Puffs, thinking that their eating habits are suddenly healthy. Eating ample amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein can never go wrong. Instead of looking for the “superfood”, Americans should be trying to find the “superdiet”.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161124-why-there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-superfood

About Kevin Bryan

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