Sorry to spoil the superfood party

There’s one little thing about superfoods that gets lost in all the hype, says Simon Wright – they’re not particularly super.

My background is in wholefoods. My first jobs were working for Unilever, Nestle and United Biscuits. That drove me into the arms of the nascent UK  natural foods industry in the form of Whole Earth Foods, the peanut butter kings of Portobello Road. So in theory wheatgrass, maca and spirulina should be right up my street.

But they are not.

Firstly I don’t like singling out some foods as “Super”. Does that mean other foods are less than super? We are so fortunate to have an infinite number of wonderful food possibilities presented to us on a daily basis  – why elevate just a few ?

Secondly I don’t believe in extracting nutrients. We now know that removing bran from wheat and adding it to other foods makes the fibre content less effective than if the bran were consumed as part of wholegrain wheat. Nature is keen that we eat whole foods.

Thirdly I don’t like the league table aspect. Blueberries are high in antioxidants. But goji berries are higher! And next week there will be another berry which is even higher!  Such concerns are trumped by the humble blackberry which grows abundantly near me in Richmond Park, is free and delicious in a crumble.

Fourthly I am suspicious of how superfoods are used. My wife used to have lunch with someone who was convinced that it did not matter what foods she selected as putting yoghurt on top would magically make them nutritious (she used to call it ‘adding a bit of healthy’).

Fifthly I am unconvinced they are necessary.  My two favourite nutrition writers are currently Michael Pollanand Tim Spector. Spector says “every  fresh fruit and vegetable is a superfood”. Pollan gives this dietary advice: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Neither makes a case for the importance of eating sea buckthorn, camu camu or any other expensive and unpronounceable extract.

• This article first appeared first appeared at  

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About the Author

Simon Wright

Organic and free-from brand specialist

Simon Wright is the founder of OF+ Consulting. A former technical director at Green & Black’s and Whole Earth he is one of the foremost brand advisers to the natural and organic sector.

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6 Responses to Sorry to spoil the superfood party

  1. The George Croscombe (@TGInnCroscombe) May 30, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    How refreshing to hear the voice of sobriety in the industry. Super foods are particularly super for sales and marketers, and l appreciate the down-to-earth admonitions. A man after my own heart!

  2. Dalius Petrauskas Alekson May 30, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

    Absolutely agree…

  3. Yelena May 31, 2017 at 10:24 am #

    I agree about commercial side of the story,which always coming with any berries at the present…..but- defenition of “superfood” has to be established before going further, antioxidant range is quite large too- and ORAC has to be mentioned …
    I use berries, their extracts and powders for all my life since early childhood and through my training. …and thé power they bring to your body is amazing! !!
    Acai and buckthorn are my favourite at the moment! !

  4. kiran tawadey June 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    Great piece Simon..I honestly cant believe it has taken us all this long to finally put paid to the hype and hyperbole surrounding so called superfoods…I know someone who developed terrible acidity from goji berries first thing in the morning 🙁

  5. ANDREW TICKLE June 1, 2017 at 7:46 pm #

    This is just a very personal rant; if someone had written the above referring to wholefoods or similar they could have based it around the exact same script. You need science to justify your comments not gossip.

  6. Happy ayurveda June 8, 2017 at 11:54 am #

    This must be the first time I have read an article about how not only few foods are superfoods, but most foods could be superfoods. I love it and thanks for sharing it. As an ayurvedic consultant I ask people to eat more “good” food and “whole” food rather than any so-called ” superfood”.



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