Are superfoods really super?

The term ‘superfood’ is often used to describe foods with alleged special health-related powers. These include blueberries, broccoli, garlic, raspberries, goji berries, tomatoes, oily fish and chocolate. Typically, such foods are hailed as having the power to prevent or even cure many diseases, including cancer, but according to Cancer Research UK, “The term ‘superfood’ is really just a marketing tool, with little scientific basis. It’s certainly true that a healthy, balanced and varied diet can help to reduce the risk of cancer but it is unlikely that any single food will make a major difference on its own.”
Dietitians avoid the term ‘superfood’ and prefer to talk of ‘super diets’, where the emphasis is on a healthy, balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables and wholegrain foods. On the NHS website, Alison Hornby, a dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA) explains, "No food, including those labelled 'superfoods', can compensate for unhealthy eating. You should eat a variety of foods to ensure you get enough of the nutrients your body needs. Focusing on getting your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is a perfect way to start."
Take blueberries, for example: it has been claimed that they can help to cure cancer; slow memory loss; combat high blood pressure and lower the risk of heart attack. Alison Hornby’s verdict is, "While research on the health claims of blueberries is inconclusive, they are a fantastic choice as one of your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. They are low in calories and high in nutrients, including phenolic compounds with an antioxidant capacity significantly higher than vitamins C or E. Try adding them to your breakfast cereal, including them in a packed lunch or mixing with low-fat yoghurt for a delicious dessert."
Many of the recipes on our website incorporate some of these super ingredients such as Scandi-style salad with smoked salmon and beetroot; Fearne Cotton’s chocolate and goji berry bars; raspberry and orange polenta cake; baked cod salsa verdi, and juicy blueberry and hazelnut cobbler. Try them as part of a balanced, healthy diet.
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