Organic superfoods have been around for quite some time. These edibles are considered to be full of phytochemicals, flavonoids, antioxidants and minerals that can keep you powered and hustling.
However, there is nothing such as a superfood, nutritionally speaking.
Apparently, superfoods are a popular marketing term to advertise those foods which offer maximum nutritional value and bestow health benefits. Since it is a marketing term, the concept is bound to attract more people to consuming such edibles.
It is simply because attaching ‘super-‘ to any term might be misleading. In fact, it can be hyperbole to magnify the benefits of one food over the others. As it is with other marketing trends, organic superfoods are a successful marketing strategy that has impacted food habits and dietary patterns.
This is why no medical professionals, dietitians and nutrition experts advertise superfoods as such. However, it is understandable that each food item has something beneficial to offer, more so if it is organically cultivated, untouched by adulterating chemicals.
This article will explain the origin of superfoods, what are superfoods, and many such organic edibles across aisles that totally live up to the title!
What are Superfoods?
The history behind marketing certain edibles as superfoods is pretty interesting. What we call ‘Superfoods’ began as a ‘Superhype‘- and we are not kidding.
When exactly did the term hit the market is still hazy, but, from what is known, ‘superfood’ was first used around World War I.
The United Fruit Company had used it as a food marketing strategy to sell bananas. And well, the track record of the popularity of superfoods made people go bananas after them.
Yes, the UFC advertised bananas aggressively- and they were successful. They published informative pamphlets that extolled the virtues of bananas. Research and public reach (also, good marketing skills) are why we know superfoods as they are today.
And the term was also a regular feature in medical journals after it became the newest trend that made people’s lives better than it was.
Remember, we are speaking of a time when the internet wasn’t rage and there was nothing that could be called overrated because it wasn’t viral already.
While medical journals have highlighted that certain foods are better for you than others, you cannot take superfoods as a gold standard to measure how nutritious your plate is.
A plate full of a certain edible is as bad as a plate full of junk. One needs to establish a certain balance between a serving of organic superfoods and other components to reap the benefits these edible items offer.
Although the use of organic superfoods to propel sales is not exactly greenwashing, it can be, if the food was not sustainably grown, yet advertised so.
Moreover, many brand campaigns can also be misleading as they capitalize on the bigger, more ‘pretty’ picture of consuming superfoods and omit other important details like possible allergies in the ever-elusive fine print.
Are Superfoods a Myth?
Some foods are referred to as ‘superfoods’ because of the specific benefits they offer. They are like those targeted exercises you do at the gym- these foods are might be nutritionally dense but, they are not sufficient to nourish you properly. So, if you are searching for a cure-it-all superfood, it is a myth.
Despite the negation, the term has nothing to do with how nutritious these foods can be once incorporated into your diet. Power foods work best when they are supplemented by a balanced diet and an active routine.
However, as it is with every ‘fad’ which hits the market- superfoods are not a one size fits all approach. What may be good for you, may not be good for others- the general perception around powerfoods being super beneficial for everyone does not suit everybody.
Several medical research studies, and institutes like the American Heart Association, have also upheld that ‘superfoods’, organic or otherwise might not lend any nutritional value at all.
For example, while we agree that whole grains like wheat are great generally, people with Celiac or gluten intolerance won’t be a huge fan of wheat, no matter how nutritious it is.
After all, why would you put your life in mortal danger because something was good for ‘everyone’? (To know more about the aversion to gluten, and how you can still enjoy flour-based delicacies like Pasta, make sure you check out our latest update on gluten-free Pasta brands!)
Therefore, we would say that ‘individual foods’ fit the bill better than superfoods. No matter how well we sugarcoat it, superfoods are a myth if they make us ignore other more viable and nutritious options. Like vegan eating and zero-calorie foods, superfoods are a misunderstood trend that induces people to eat them just for the sake of it.
Add ‘organic’, another hugely misunderstood word when it comes to eating habits, and you have a perfect betrayal on your hands. Organic is practically out of the question if you are still buying preservative-laden, store-bought superfoods that are good on the eyes, but not good for nature.
Why Organic Superfoods and How to Identify Them?
First off, organic means adopting nature-friendly practices in cultivating and procuring food. ‘Organic’ abstains from the use of pesticides, artificial manipulation and antibiotics, letting food grow as it should be grown- natural, safe and a little imperfect but just as nutritionally rich.
A noted advocate of organic farming, physicist and ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva, opines that organically grown produce goes great lengths to preserve food grain diversity, empowers local communities and protects biodiversity against Genetically Modified Organisms. You can hear Dr. Shiva speak about why exactly GMOs are harmful, right here-
Still, is this a reason enough to go for organic superfoods?
We need to reflect on the reasons why should we prefer such produce which puts almost everyone at a disadvantage except for the corporations that milk the superfood trend so generously.
However, you may find yourself incapable of differentiating between organic superfoods and packaged ‘organic’ powerfoods. Here is what you can do to identify organic superfoods from their false counterparts-
Look at the Imperfections
Usually, we are attracted to bright, brilliantly coloured fruits and veggies.
But, as the old proverb goes- all that glitters is not gold.
Look for not-so-perfect looking food products- organic produce is like zebra stripes- no two products are alike in their shape and size.
It doesn’t mean that all deformed veggies are organic and good. In fact, a few people who are into organic farming vouch for similarity in food products as a sign of a healthy, pesticide-free soil. Still, steer clear from unusually colourful produce that looks straight out of a painting.
Distinguish the Labels
An organic superfood labelled so might be deceptive and a greenwashing tactic. This gives you all the more reason to look carefully at the labels and certifications that come with it.
Distinguishing labels might not be entirely possible when you are buying unpackaged produce from a local farm or market.
Do it whenever you find any labels on branded food.
These labels come under four heads- 100% organic, ‘made with organic ingredients, specific organic ingredients and organic. A little trick here is to check the PLU sticker on fresh produce. If it begins with 9- it is organic. Otherwise, it isn’t.
The most popular label to notice is the USDA Organic, upheld by the US’ National Organic Program. Other labels are Afrisco Certified Organic, AIAB, Danish Ø-mark and Agriculture Biologique.
You can find out more about these labels in this government sponsored research document by the Consumer Education And Research Centre, Ahmedabad, India.
Ask the Producer
Sometimes, vendors consciously choose not to enter a certification programme given their expenses.
Thus, you can ask them directly about the food and how it was grown.
Not only will you thrive on that social interaction but you will also get to know about a process. Visiting a farm for an outing and looking at the process yourself is an even better idea!
Benefits of Incorporating Greens and Superfoods in Your Diet!
Organic superfoods always come with a litany of benefits. Here are some of them you should watch out for-
Keep Inflammation and Heart Disease Risk at Bay
Nutritionally rich superfoods can help you keep cardiovascular health hazards a mile away. The mineral and fiber content in such foods also aids digestion and helps you beat inflammation and bloating. Superfoods come with low calories- so you will be able to cut down on excessive fat consumption and the risk of diabetes as well.
Maintain High Energy Levels
Lethargy is a real hurdle when it comes to productivity. You might find yourself excessively tired or drained out just 5 minutes into a mildly strenuous task.
Consuming organic superfoods can help you maintain high energy levels given that they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating quick bites of these superfoods on top of your diet can also aid in speeding up your metabolism and lowering cholesterol levels.
Protect Yourself from Toxins
Celebrities with miraculously age-defying, healthy physique swear by superfoods and a balanced diet. The secret behind that glowing skin is the toxin-flushing capacity of superfoods.
Be it JLo’s love for Kale, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Avocado obsession or Rihanna swearing by some luscious almond butter, it is no secret that feeling good has to do with a nourishing plate. Celebrity chef Amber Rose advises stocking up on dark leafy greens, turmeric and cold pressed oils to top up your diet and reap the best of organic superfoods.
The 8 Best Powerfoods You Should be Eating Right Now!
Here is a list of 8 organic superfoods that live up to their name. With a rich nutritional profile and varied uses- as standalone snacks or in your main course, these powerfoods will help you achieve the benefits they promise.
Do not forget to balance these magic foods with a good diet and an active routine, otherwise, these will be useless fairy dust ingredients for you!
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are a repository of many health benefits. Several medical studies, dieticians and nutritionists have sworn by this miracle food with an impressive nutrient profile.
Leafy greens are nutrient-dense and loaded with benefits like ALA Omega-3 fatty acids, folate, manganese, beta-carotene and vitamins A, C, E and K.
Be it bok-choy, spinach, kale or collard greens- featuring this class of superfoods is going to help with your eyesight, aid digestion and improve bone health.
Make sure you feature these organically grown superfoods in your soups, smoothies, salads and main dishes. Hell, you can even use spinach puree to make sugar cookies, cakes and other delicacies. That added pop of brilliant green is a plus.
Another class of powerfoods you should include in your diets are legumes. These pulses and beans are not as boring as they seem.
Fun fact, when the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan was in captivity and was permitted to have only one class of foods to eat throughout his house arrest, his personal chef suggested legumes. It is because not only they can be cooked in several ways, they have various benefits.
Legumes and pulses are rightly called protein powerhouses, and are especially beneficial and safe for people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Full of fibre and carbs and an economical source of vitamins, minerals and resistant starch, legumes are a must-have organic superfood!
Whole grains like wheat, barley, rye, sorghum, buckwheat and rice are high on iron, Vitamin B, zinc, magnesium and polyphenols. Incorporating them in the form of multigrain flour, cereals or just on their own is pretty beneficial.
The high fibre content and antioxidants in whole grains are good for gut and heart health. Also, they are immensely helpful in maintaining energy levels throughout the day. Team them up with a side of greens or some milk and berries- and you have an efficient superfood that will take care of you.
This colourful superfood is a brilliant assortment that offers you tons of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Skincare enthusiasts love berries for all the right reasons.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and mulberries are rich in dietary fibres and low on calories. This gives us all the more reason to gorge on yogurt with a side of berries and granola, or the classic summer berry pudding. Berries are pretty good at controlling blood sugar and fighting inflammation.
Cranberries are great for reproductive health- if you watch Sex Education, then you know what we are talking about. In general, all berries are high in Vitamin K, Copper, Manganese and folate which help you beat stress and improve collagen generation that improves skin elasticity. Berry good, indeed!
How can we not mention superfoods without talking about nuts? These nutritional nuggets are jam-packed with beneficial oils and minerals like iron, calcium and selenium.
If you have brittle nails and hairs, you must stock up on nuts like pistachios and Brazil nuts. Careful though, we don’t want to overdo it- having a kilo of nuts a day is far from ideal, so start with a small serving each day.
Nuts are abundant in Vitamin E, and anti-cancer compounds like ellagic acid that help keep heart risk miles away from you. With a moderate fat profile, a small serving of nuts aids weight loss, a healthy heart and packs up on all the protein and fiber. Who says small things aren’t good for you?
One of the most widely used medicinal plants in history, garlic is known for its antibiotic and antifungal properties.
Aside from repelling vampires and helping you keep away from unsolicited kisses, garlic is effective in protecting you against stomach ulcers, reducing blood pressure and preventing the common cold.
Garlic is an everyday superfood and best when it is eaten raw. However, you can use garlic liberally while cooking to give your dishes that much-needed flavour. Moreover, you might be protecting yourself against bowel and stomach cancer as well.
One of the rarest, yet the oldest superfood in this list is Kefir, a fermented milk drink that can be made from any milk- plant or animal-based.
It is probiotic heaven along with a nutrient powerhouse as it contains riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Magnesium and protein.
It is also a good option for those who are vegan and lactose intolerant. This potent probiotic might even score bigger than yoghurt when it comes to its success as an organic superfood as it boasts of a strong anti-bacterial profile.
How can we forget the good-old buttery avocado? And holy guacamole, this fruit is a good source of potassium, monosaturated fats, folate and fibre.
Most importantly, avocado is abundant in Vitamins C, B, E and K. This means that this superfood is good for your heart, great for vision and can help prevent bone weakness along with supporting fetal health during pregnancy.
With its basic taste profile, avocado can also be used in a variety of dishes apart from dips. Nutritionally dense and creamy to taste, this superfood is not going out of trend anytime soon!
What Do We Think About Organic Superfoods?
Despite being a marketing tactic, organic superfoods are a good source of extra nutrition. However, being an ethical and conscious consumers, we must know what is on our plate (and maybe the plate itself. Speaking of plates, do check out our feature on non-toxic cookware.).
Some foods might be healthier than others, but it doesn’t mean that they are the only ones we should be eating. The key to superfoods is realizing that just the label won’t do any good. It is good if these foods come from the soil instead of the store because organic is ethical and healthy. There are so many things that make a superfood for what it is.
Therefore, ensuring that your food is coming from the right place is coupled with the routine that is best for you. Organic superfoods will work the best when they are suited to your body’s needs, so don’t forget to consult your physician and strike a balance between these foods to make up for a healthier planet and a healthier you!