What are Superfoods?

Wholefoods Photo by Alexander Schemmeck

 

The term “superfood” is often used to describe the lastest obscure ingredient. Acai berries, discovered from the depths of the Amazon, exotic goji berries brought to the west from its origins in Eastern herbal soups and medicine, or matcha powder used for centuries in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony ritual, now served as a latte-style drink in trendy cafes.

The list of superfoods continues to grow, but a common thread that runs through them and the new ones that continue to be “discovered” is that they are all wholefoods that come from plants.

There is no official definition from the main regulatory food authorities such as the FDA in the US, EFSA in Europe or FSANZ in Australia for superfoods. So the term is still somewhat of a marketing cliche. Nonetheless, consumers have a clear understanding of superfoods being synonymous with nutrient dense foods that can confer superior health benefits.

Ironically, if you were to ask a Dietitian or Nutritionist their advice on getting the necessary daily intake of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, it would be to simply eat a wholefood diet full of fresh vegetables and fruit. - boring?  

Our busy modern lives leave us little to no time to take proper care of ourselves, and we’re often in search of easy shortcuts or silver bullet solutions. Unfortunately, nature is a complex beast and every plant, fruit, berry or leaf offers a different mix of essential micronutrients and powerful phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds produced by plants to help them fight against disease or predatory insects and animals.

Often, these bio-active compounds have a bitter or astringent taste to deter predators, animal or human. Some of these bioactive compounds, such as phytotoxins are toxic to humans or can interfere with our body’s ability to absorb nutrients, antinutrients. However, other phytochemicals such as flavonoids and polyphenols are prized for their potential anti-ageing and cancer-fighting powers. It is these compounds that are positioned as providing the antioxidant properties of certain foods. 

Although there is much research on the health benefits of these anti-oxidant compounds, Dietitians and health authorities continue to advocate a natural wholefood diet. There are other beneficial interactions between all the micronutrient compounds in plants that when eaten as a whole food we have yet to understand, or be able to fully synthesis or replicate pharmaceutically.

Our belief is that there is no one “superfood” that can stand apart from any other, and that unprocessed vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds eaten in combination with each other will offer more wholesome “superfood” properties. 

For example, the Australian Kakadu plum has risen to fame for its high vitamin C, containing 100x more vitamin C than oranges. Although a powerful ingredient on its own, our body can only absorb small doses of vitamin C at a time. We can readily absorb 70% - 90% of a 30-180mg dose of vitamin C on a daily basis. Taking more than 1g of vitamin C a day reduces our body’s ability to absorb it to 50%, with the rest being passed out as urine.

Instead, eating a wide variety of common vegetables and fruit such as oranges, red capsicums and broccoli, or squeezing some lemon over your meal is a more wholesome way to get your daily intake of vitamin C.

That's why our Superfood Shakes aren't just made with a single ingredient, but harnesses the magic that comes with combining some of nature's wide range of superfoods!