Why you CAN’T ‘supercharge’ your smoothie with a powder as experts brand the term ‘superfood’ more of a ‘marketing myth than a nutritional truth’
- Once only sold in health food stores, you can now find them in supermarkets
- They can be used in smoothies to provide all the goodness of a ‘superfood’
- But there’s a certain scepticism among experts about the notion of superfoods
- Many of the powders making reference to high levels of vitamins and minerals
- Another frequent claim is that these powders are rich in powerful antioxidants
Have powdered superfoods appeared on your radar yet? Once only available in health food stores, you’ll now find these in most supermarkets.
They can be used in smoothies or sprinkled over your meals to provide all the goodness of a ‘superfood’, without you having to source fresh turmeric root, baobab fruit or wheatgrass plant, and eat it whole.
It sounds tempting, but there’s a certain scepticism among experts about the notion of superfoods in the first place, let alone a powdered form.
As Bahee Van de Bor, a specialist dietitian at Great Ormond Street Hospital, explains, the term ‘superfood’ is ‘deceptive’.
They can be used in smoothies or sprinkled over your meals to provide all the goodness of a ‘superfood’, without you having to source fresh turmeric root, baobab fruit or wheatgrass plant, and eat it whole (pictured is Aduna Baobab Powder)
‘It suggests that a single food is superior to all others and that’s not true,’ she says.
‘We know that for health, long life and disease prevention, we need a combination of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients.’
‘The term “superfood” is more of a marketing myth than a nutritional truth,’ agrees dietitian Linia Patel, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. ‘It generally refers to a food that is thought to be particularly nutrient dense.’
But what about the idea of getting even more bang for your nutritional buck by condensing a healthy food into powdered form?
English teacher, 40, has been left with brain damage from a…
Boy, eight, born with a malformed leg now has a foot in…
Anorexic mother, 26, who spent £94,000 on diet pills and…
Epileptic, 27, reveals she ‘died for six minutes’ and was…
Share this article
Despite many of the powders making reference to high levels of vitamins and minerals, that isn’t always a positive.
‘If you’re eating real food, you’re unlikely to “overdose” on any one vitamin or mineral,’ says Bahee Van de Bor.
‘After all, you’d have to eat a whole pile of liver every day to run the risk of overdosing on vitamin A.
‘However, because these powders contain such concentrated amounts, it might be possible, especially if you are taking a number of other supplements, to exceed the recommended amount.
Despite many of the powders making reference to high levels of vitamins and minerals, that isn’t always a positive (pictured is Proto-col Green Magic)
‘For fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, where any excess can’t be excreted, that’s potentially a problem. For example an excess of vitamin A can result in hair loss.’
Another frequent claim is that these powders are rich in antioxidants, substances that can protect cells from damage.
But Nicole Rothband, a specialist dietitian, says some still use the outdated ORAC method of measuring antioxidant capacity.
‘This is a measure of the antioxidant capacity in a test tube not the body and products that claim or even imply potential health benefits from products with high ORAC are contravening European Food Safety Authority regulations.’
Linia Patel concedes that our lifestyles have become faster paced and that often the intensively-farmed food we have access to doesn’t have the same nutrient quality as it might have done in the past, but that doesn’t mean we should be looking for instant fixes.
‘Supplements like these powders may have a role in bridging the gap,’ she says.
‘If you’re having a smoothie anyway, it might make it more nutritious, but it should never be a replacement for a meal.’
SO, WHICH PRODUCT IS IT WORTH SPLASHING OUT ON?
Dietitian Nicole Rothband gives her verdict on some popular powders
Aduna Baobab Powder
80g, £5.99, aduna.com
CLAIMS: Powder made from the pulp of the baobab fruit, which is high in fibre and vitamin C, for the immune system, energy release and skin.
EXPERT COMMENT: This is very high in sugar — over 30g per 100g. It’s also high in fibre and vitamin C, and a reasonable source of potassium and calcium. But you would get similar nutritional benefits from eating an orange and a handful of almonds.
Glow Bar Ashwagandha Powder
45g, £26.50, glowbarldn.com
CLAIMS: Ashwagandha, a type of mushroom, promises to calm body and mind at times of stress.
EXPERT COMMENT: Though this is used in Ayurvedic medicine, there’s no reliable evidence to substantiate the claims.
Proto-col Green Magic
30g, £8.95, proto-col.com
CLAIMS: Powdered versions of 16 superfoods including wheatgrass and seaweed. ‘Provides the nutritional equivalent of seven servings of fruit and vegetables.’
EXPERT COMMENT: The benefit of five-a-day comes from eating the whole fruit or veg, including the fibre, and only one portion should come from juice. The premise here appears to be that if you bundle together lots of ingredients you’ll get a magical product but you’d still be better off eating whole fruit and veg.
Funktional Foods Cacao Powder
100g, £1.99, aldi.co.uk
CLAIMS: High in copper, which protects cells; iron for tiredness; magnesium for mental alertness; and potassium for normal blood pressure.
EXPERT COMMENT: It looks like you need to add some form of sugar to make this palatable. It’s a bit extravagant on the health claims front but probably a healthier way to get a chocolatey hit.
NewGen Direct Superfood Plus
150g, £38.99, newgendirect.com
CLAIMS: Contains fruit, vegetables, seeds, grains, antioxidants and 35+ billion friendly bacteria.
EXPERT COMMENT: They make a point of saying that one of the ‘best independent labs’ has performed two pre-clinical trials on the product, plus a fully comprehensive suite of antioxidants tests’ but all this data relates to what happens in a test tube, not a person.
Source: Read Full Article