Do superfoods really exist?
With foods such as kale sneaking into progressively more products due to its alleged health benefits, are they really superior to other foods?
Asked by: Rachel Miller, Andover
A so-called ‘superfood’ has no scientific definition and the word is little more than a marketing fad. Fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants, like blueberries, kiwi fruit and goji berries, often top the superfood list. Antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, are billed as being able to fight havoc-wreaking free radicals, helping to prevent cancer. But evidence for dietary antioxidants’ effectiveness is sparse, with some studies suggesting that digestion destroys much of the antioxidant power of berries. Plus, the antioxidant concentrations needed would require you to consume vast quantities of your selected superfoods. However, the foods are all healthy and will enrich a balanced diet.
Dr Emma Davies is a science writer and editor with a PhD in food chemistry from the University of Leeds. She writes about all aspects of chemistry, from food and the environment to toxicology and regulatory science.