If you think adding acai and Goji berries to your diet will give you a health kick and decrease your risk of cancer, you might want to reconsider your eating habits - because according to a new study by Bupa, these ‘superfoods’ aren’t as super as they appear.
New research by YouGov, commissioned by Bupa, discovered that one in ten people (11%) in the UK believe superfoods help prevent cancer and have significant health benefits, despite there being no scientific evidence to back up these claims.
The study found that 61% of Brits buy into the superfood trend because they believe in its health benefits, with 38% inaccurately deeming them healthier than standard healthy foods like basic fruit and vegetables.
In fact, there is no medical evidence that popular superfoods like acai berries and plain popcorn help prevent cancer, which they both claim, and they are no more nutritionally beneficial than everyday foods like dried fruit, apples and wholegrains.
Experts fear that the nutritional and health promises that superfoods carry, give people false information about what they’re eating, as well as high expectations of how their health will benefit by eating these foods.
“The term ‘superfood’ is misleading as there is no clear definition and many of the supposed health claims are vague or not fully substantiated,” says Christina Merryfield, Lead Dietrician at Bupa.
“Some so-called superfoods like pomegranate juice and almonds can be good for you as part of a balanced diet, but giving them such a heroic sounding name confuses the public and can cause worse diet choices as people mistakenly believe they can ‘undo’ the damage caused by unhealthy foods," Merryfield added.
"Much of the research behind foods like acai berries, black rice and plain popcorn is incomplete, inconclusive and lacks scientific credibility. No food can work miracles.”
5 health-boosting alternatives to superfoods
Blueberries provide a consistent source of antioxidants and are much more readily available in the UK, compared to its superfood rival, the Goji berries.
Although the superfood black rice promises bundles of fibre and cholesterol-fighting properties, there is no evidence of this. Stick to wholegrain, brown rice, as it offers a similar level of fibre and glycaemic index, plus it's cheaper.
Despite the claims that plain popcorn helps protect you from cancer, there is no scientific evidence that backs this up. It can also be calorific too! Increase your antioxidants in the form of delicious dried fruits instead, plus they also contain loads of fibre too.
Although dark chocolate may sound more appealing, it doesn't offer the amount of antioxidants as a tasty bunch of red grapes. Plus they contain less calories.
It seems that the acai berries are having a trendy moment, but munching on strawberries gives you a much higher levels of antioxidants and are cheaper, less calorific, and far more readily available in the UK.