Superfoods – to go there or not? July 13 2016

By Charmaine Perry published on The Zine

An apple a day keeps the doctor away… well that’s if you blend it with chia seeds, acai and some coconut water. The superfoods trend has well and truly reached Australia, and it has arrived with a premium price tag.

The superfoods label undoubtedly came to our attention after our idols were photographed sipping green smoothies and munching cacao nibs. So when Hollywood heavyweights like Gwyneth Paltrow taught us the amazing anti-aging effects of kale and supermodels like Miranda Kerr swore the secret to glowing skin is a daily dose of goji berries, we naturally flocked to our nearest health food store to stock up on these ‘surefire’ beauty items!

So what exactly are superfoods? Well, generally they’re any foods which have an ‘unusually’ high level of nutrients, vitamins and minerals in the one serve and can be grouped into one of the following:
– green e.g. wheatgrass

– fruit and nut e.g. maca

– red e.g. acai

– bee e.g. manuka

– seaweed e.g. kelp

– herb e.g. nettle

These groups are forever expanding and as a result, we’ve seen the market adapt to this… local supermarkets are now offering a supply of items which were once only available in health food stores, there’s a growing list of superfood cookbooks and our favourite café’s are now offering superfood creations (cue matcha and turmeric lattes).
So while these foods may be ‘super’, the growing argument as of late has been – does the price outweigh the value?

The danger with nominating particular foods as superior when compared to others is that it gives the impression that everyday fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, herbs and honey are somewhat deficient. However, spending $20 on fresh foods as opposed to spending $20 on a small punnet of amazon-grown berries makes much more sense, right? – Especially for those on a student budget…

Nurtitionist at Sydney’s Be…Health!, Heidi Meyer, believes there needs to be more education when classing particular foods as ‘super’,

“The terminology is what I have a problem with as every food is super, I don’t think one should be singled out. Health food giants have created a need and we’ve started to believe something’s lacking if we don’t have foods like acai in our diets,’’ she told The Zine.

Heidi says these superfoods aren’t necessarily classed as super in the cultures from which they originate, as they’re a staple in the local people’s diets – just as potatoes are a staple in Aussie diets. Maca, for example, is a South American root which has been ground into a powder for us to use, so it’s not obscure to the populations in which it originates, it’s just new to us, Heidi explains.

Heidi stresses it’s important to remember nature didn’t get it wrong, if we eat real foods in the quantities our bodies can handle at once we’re going to get everything we need.
While Heidi does admit to having some superfoods in her cupboard she says this isn’t because of their ‘superior’ label, it’s because they are high in nutritional value and are a great additive to her diet. Her recommendations are chia seeds, which are extremely rich in omega 3 fatty acids, kale which has 1000 percent more vitamin c per cup than spinach and coconut oil for its anti-inflammatory effect.

While it seems logical to eat seasonal and fresh rather than spending our weekly pay cheque on superfoods, it’s hard not to be tempted by Instagram superfood star’s vibrant accounts. Their colourful photos, inspirational health tips and scrumptious recipes are too good to resist and I personally find many of the recipes great for the busy lifestyles of the 21st century… we want maximal nutrition in minimal time!

Melbourne-based superfood company, Funch, is a market leader in the ‘DIY’ healthy snack food market and is really changing the way we view snacks on the go. Founded by health-conscious duo Tanya Duncan and Lisa Bourne, Funch has a simple aim: to help busy people live well and eat better.

Funch has a stunning range of protein/superfood ball mixes, no-bake slices and snack bars that are made from the finest natural, raw and wholesome ingredients. All mixes come in powder form and require as little or as many ingredients as you’d like to add. They’re simple and easy to make, and give you that ‘home-made’ satisfaction – while not costing you the earth!

Their new Paleo Power Ball Mixture is devine and includes some of the best anti-inflammatory ingredients available: turmeric, ginger, black pepper, almonds, coconut, chia seeds and pepitas. Simply pour some coconut oil, lemon juice and maple syrup into the mix and roll away – in minutes you’ll have a healthy and nutritious snack you’ll feel good about. 
The Paleo Ball Mixture was the brain child of the healthy duo and food and fitness guru Lizzy Marsh and is 100% natural, with no added sugar, is vegan, gluten, dairy, grain and GMO free – and tastes incredible!