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We all want our children to grow strong and healthy, so it's only natural that when a food is hailed as a superfood, we try to add it into our diet. However, the term 'superfood' is not a scientific one, and many health benefits touted by marketing agencies are unsubstantiated. In 2007, the EU passed legislation banning the term 'superfood' unless claims were backed up withj scientific evidence proving their value. Food manufacturers and supermarkets had until this year to phase out such claims unless scientifically proven.
Before the ban came into effect, over 100 foods had been awarded 'superfood' status by marketers. The list of superfoods included soy, spinach, broccoli, beetroot, blueberries, fish and green tea. Oprah Winfrey brought international attention to the acia berry which she featured on her show, inadvertently creating a scam market of bogus acai supplement suppliers employing unwholesome marketing techniques.
The major beneficiaries of so called superfoods are food producers and supermarkets. Between 1995 and 1997, sales of blueberries in the UK rose by 132%, spinach sales grew 40% and salmon sales increased over 30%.
It's not that superfoods aren't good for you - they generally contain higher concentrations of chemical deemed to be healthy, such as vitamin C, flavonoids, or Omega-3 fatty acids. However, these foods should be used as part of a balanced diet and often may be little more beneficial than many other foods. Also noteable is the fact that many superfoods are exotic and therefore have a far higher carbon footprint than locally produced foods.
With the implementation of the EU ban on the term 'superfood' reaching completion, we're far less likely to hear these claims being touted, but if we do, we know now that they will have been scrutinised properly and that the claims really are super!