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Nutritionist’s Verdict On So Called ‘Superfoods’

Nutritionist’s Verdict On So Called ‘Superfoods’
Emily Wilcock
Writer and expert2 years ago
View Emily Wilcock's profile

We don’t want to give away too much too soon, but it turns out nutritionist Richie Kirwan isn’t a fan of “superfoods”.

OK, hold on. That may not be entirely fair. It’s not the foods that are the issue, but the name. “Superfoods” is one of his least favourite nutrition buzzwords.

What are “superfoods”?

The fact that there’s no settled definition for superfoods is what first rings alarm bells. In a general sense, a “superfood” is a food that is either high in a particular nutrient or has some apparent health benefit. Sounds a bit wishy washy to us. Superfoods are a marketer's dream — any food can be called a “superfood” if framed in a particular way.


What Is A Superfood?

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Dark green leafy vegetables

This includes:

  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage

These are packed full of nutrients and loaded with fibre, folic acid, calcium, magnesium and iron. They have been associated with better cardiovascular health, lower risk of dementia and even type 2 diabetes. They sound pretty super to you now, but if you’re force-feeding yourself cabbage day in and day out, the magic may soon wear off.


This includes:

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries

The perfect smoothie filler, breakfast bowl topping, and even a great dessert. Berries tend to be low in calories compared with some other fruits and are rich in polyphenols. For those of us that don’t speak nutritionist, polyphenols are the colours in fruits , and they have anti-inflammatory properties.


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Oily Fish

This includes:

  • Salmon for its long chain omega-3 fatty acids

People with a higher intake of oily fish often see a lower risk of heart disease and better brain health as they get older.


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Dark Chocolate

This is for the chocolate lovers. Though we all know that true chocolate lovers are all for milk chocolate. None of that high-cocoa nonsense for us. Sorry, dark choc lovers.

Anyway, dark chocolate, like berries, is loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants. Therefore, dark chocolate consumption is associated with better heart health, lower blood pressure and better memory and mood. Sadly, dark chocolate is still high in calories, but you don’t need loads of it to reap the benefits.


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Controversy incoming...

Avocado is known for its heart-healthy unsaturated fat and minerals like magnesium, but Richie just isn’t here for it. He clearly missed the avocado and poached egg on toast hype. We’re getting huge red flag vibes from Richie for this.

It's important to note he doesn’t have too much against the green beauty that brought us guacamole. He’s just not that into it. Each to their own we guess.


5 Health Benefits Of Avocados

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Chia Seeds

Chia seeds contain unsaturated fats, which are good for heart health, and fibre, which is great for gut health, so they’re all the hype at the moment. And rightly so. They're also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which aren’t very easy to find in other foods if you’re not an oily fish fan.


11 Health And Nutrition Benefits Of Chia Seeds

Who knew you could pack so much into one little seed?


The spice that gives so many curries their distinctive yellow colour. But be warned: if you’re going to cook with it, it’ll turn all your wooden spoons yellow. It's been the star of the show of many recent scientific studies, which have focused mainly on its anti-inflammatory effects. The evidence isn’t totally conclusive, but it’s damn tasty in a curry — and if it happens to be full of benefits, even better.

In honesty, Richie really isn’t that bothered if you fill your boots with chia seeds, avocado, salmon and berries — and if you do, great, as long as you do so alongside a balanced diet.


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Take Home Message

All of these foods make a great addition to a well-balanced diet. But next time a food is claimed to be “super”, consider doing your own research to find out why. If you don’t like chia seeds and are just chowing them down for no reason other than their touted benefits, then they’re not that super. “Superfood” gives the impression of foods you must eat, but that isn’t the case. It's fake news. If you can add them to your diet, great. If not, don't stay up all night worrying about it.



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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Emily Wilcock
Writer and expert
View Emily Wilcock's profile
After completing an internship with Myprotein, Emily returned to university to finish her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and Marketing. With experience in lifestyle writing, Emily aims to entertain and educate through her work. Her focuses include recipes, real and inspiring stories, and working with writers to help provide easy-to-digest evidence-based research. Her work on recipes has been previously featured in The Supplement magazine, with a particular focus on high-protein, nutritious meals, plus advice on how to properly fuel your body. Outside of work, Emily’s top priority is food. She’s a self-professed star baker and a connoisseur of all things baked. In her spare time, she’s either cooking up a storm, our looking out for the opportunity to try out Manchester’s newest restaurants. But as a huge fan of carbs, if it’s not pasta or pasta-adjacent, she’s not interested. If she’s not in the kitchen, she’s tucked up with a book for an early night, or you’ll find her in the gym working up a sweat. Afterall, all those carbs require quite the appetite.