Superfoods have been filling supermarket shelves and consumer baskets for several years. And it is not for less, since – according to their staunch defenders – Superfoods have a multitude of properties aimed at improving health and prevent a wide catalog of diseases that plague modern society.
Surely you hear their picturesque names: Goji berries, chia seeds or spirulina, among many others. These products only represent a small sample of the wide assortment that make up superfoods today in the market.
And is that, through high nutritional promises, superfoods are postulated as the perfect remedy to fight from obesity, to cardiovascular diseases, to cancer. And of course, when we talk about such serious diseases you have to walk with lead feet.
Apparently, superfoods have become a mandatory resource in the diet of anyone who wishes to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But, To what extent are all these products so ‘super’?
In today’s article we will see what are the nutritional properties of various superfoods, and we will tell you if they really are as special as many people believe.
Goji berries are surrounded by a certain aura with oriental charm – something that Westerners always fascinates – as they come from two plants of Asian origin: Lycium barbarum Y Lycium chinense belonging to the Solanaceae group, like tomato, eggplant, or the potato itself.
Nutritional properties of Goji berries
As for macronutrients, Goji berries are mostly composed of carbohydrates-Like any fruit-, being approximately 75% of its composition belonging to this macronutrient, and leaving a remaining 14% for proteins and a scarce 2% for fats, approximately. Its remaining composition consists of dietary fiber and micronutrients in variable proportion.
If we talk about the micronutrients highlighted in Goji berries, we find a high content of vitamin A and especially iron, copper, selenium and B vitamins such as riboflavin.
However, we can also find high concentrations of these nutrients other common foods, such as chicken or veal, carrot and dairy meat.
Chia is a herbaceous plant by name Salvia hispanica L., which stands out nutritionally for a high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, its seeds have gained such relevance within the diet of consumers – especially in the vegetarian and vegan population – since these essential fatty acids they cannot be synthesized by the human being, and therefore must be achieved through diet.
Nutritional properties of chia seeds
In the case of chia seeds, carbohydrates remain the most prominent macronutrients, with values close to 35-40% with respect to the total food. Then we have the fats, whose representation in the food reaches values close to 25-30%. Finally, the protein content is established near 15-20%.
Regarding micronutrients, that is, vitamins and minerals, we find very interesting values of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, in addition to vitamins of group B such as B1 and B3.
The nutritional contribution of chia seeds is easily substitutable for any type of fatty fish, such as salmon or emperor, if we refer to the fat section. These fish, in addition, are ideal sources of omega 3 fatty acids, in addition to proteins and minerals such as potassium, selenium and also vitamin B12.
In the case of calcium, dairy itself and even nuts such as almonds or green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, they can cover to excess with the recommended daily amounts.
Spirulina is obtained from certain algae produced by cyanobacterial species Arthrospira platensis Y Maximum Arthrospira In addition, usually is involved in some controversy about its use in the vegan diet for allegedly containing a high amount of vitamin B12. This information is incorrect, since the vitamin B12 contained in spirulina is not in a suitable form that allows it to be assimilated by the human organism, therefore it is not a good resource in the vegan diet.
Spirulina nutritional properties
This superfood stands out with a high protein content, close to 55% of the total product. Then, we found values close to 25% for carbohydrates and 5% for fat.
If we analyze the micronutrients, we will find many interesting values, such as high amounts of B vitamins, iron, manganese or sodium.
Again, all these nutrients are easily obtainable through a healthy and varied diet. If we focus on the high percentage of proteins, we find foods such as beef, yogurt, cheese, peanuts or oatmeal that have quite remarkable amounts of this macronutrient that have nothing to envy to those of spirulina.
There are other more common nutritional sources
In general, and as we have analyzed, all the outstanding nutrients from superfoods They can be obtained regularly by eating food belonging to different groups.
We must also keep in mind that The diet is composed of the intake of many types of food With different nutritional composition. Therefore, if we eat a food deficit in a specific nutrient there will be no problem, since it is quite likely that we will obtain it by eating another food – as long as we maintain a balanced and healthy diet.
Further, the amounts of superfoods ingested are very small. It is not as easy to consume 100 grams of veal or lentils than Goji berries or spirulina. Therefore, the general impact that superfoods can have on our health will always be minimal, no matter how high its content in certain nutrients.
This does not mean that superfoods are products to be discarded from our diet completely, since they have great healthy properties. But we must keep in mind that they are not essential nor are they as ‘super’ as they want us to believe. Superfoods have great marketing strategies behind them, and a few myths and food cues.
Superfoods are healthy, but not miraculous
Definitely, consuming a superfood will never guarantee you have superior health by definition. Health status is associated with hundreds of different and interrelated factors, and diet is only one of them. In addition, most of these products are consumed in very small quantities that are hardly relevant in the diet.
Undoubtedly, promote the consumption of normal and current healthy foods – and that do not promise miracles – such as legumes, nuts, fish, dairy products, eggs, fruits and vegetables It will always be a much more beneficial option for our health.
All these foods they don’t need any adjective that elevates them to the altars of nutrition, although nutritionally they are much more ‘super’ than the vast majority of the so-called superfoods.
In Vitónica | Six « superfoods » that are at your fingertips
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