Food industry marketers do have a tough job. People can only eat so much, and in most industrialised countries where food is plentiful, people don’t tend to consume more food as their income grows. For example, unlike the sales increase of personal computers in the 1990s or of tablets in the 2010s, the overall US food spending tends to be pretty flat.
The industry responds to this stagnation by rolling out “new and improved” products. Junk food manufacturers are masters of this game, and the natural-food industry does it too. Think of the so-called “superfoods” such as açaí berries, goji berries, quinoa, and chia seeds. These pricey, often exotic ingredients cycle quickly in and out of the foodie spotlight.
Myths about “superfoods” are annoyingly stubborn and maybe that is one of the reasons why we still consider them as valid because we are suckers for magical solutions We all want to believe in magic – in the form of fast diets, medical procedures or even foods. The industry that is marketing your food is well aware of that, and that’s probably how the term “superfood” was created – and how other nutritional trends came to existence.
Here are 5 of the most popular nutrition myths that can’t seem to fade:
1. Super foods are “super”
No federal agency or food regulating organisation actually has defined the term “superfood,” and its use on packaging and in advertising is completely unregulated.
Some of the super claims are true: Açaí berries and goji berries, are indeed loaded with phytochemicals, plant compounds that seem to protect us from heart disease, brain deterioration, and cancer. And quinoa really does offer a complete, high-quality vegetarian protein. Other boasts are, well, less true: Açaí and goji berries are not really miracle cures for everything from obesity to sexual dysfunction. Also, Quinoa may deliver a compete protein in a compact package, but rice and beans together actually do so better. And like goji berries, blueberries and strawberries are also packed with phytochemicals.
One of the worst of the superfoods’ myths, are their effects on the people in their native regions. In 2009, at the height of the açaí berry hype, Bloomberg News reported that the fruit’s wholesale price had jumped 60-fold since the early 2000s, pricing the Amazonian villagers who rely on it out of the market.
Rather than dish out excessive grocery money for “superfoods,” the American Dietetic Association recommends eating a “super diet” by following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans on a daily basis.
2. We need to take a daily multivitamin to be healthy.
In fact, two studies (one by Jaakko Mursu and the other by Eric Klein) released last year, showed that high doses of vitamins and supplements can actually be detrimental to your health. One study indicated an association between multivitamin and supplement use and an increased risk of death (except with calcium intake), and the other study showed an increased risk of cancer for men taking vitamin E supplements, selenium supplements or both.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website that most people can usually get all of their necessary vitamins from their diet. Instead of spending your money on a monthly bottle of pills, go to the farmers market and buy some nutritious products.
3. Vegetables are healthier raw than cooked.
Raw food fanatics constantly claim vegetables lose critical nutrients when you cook them. The truth is that while cooking veggies can potentially destroy their vitamin C, it can have the opposite effect on many vitamins. For example, cooking tomatoes boosts their amount of lycopene — an antioxidant that strict raw foodists are low on, according to a 2008 study. According to Scientific American, cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers and other vegetables also contain more antioxidants — like carotenoids and ferulic acid — than their raw equivalents.
4. You have to drink eight glasses of water a day.
A glass of pure, clear water isn’t the only way to hydrate. We also obtain a good amount of H2O from our food, including fruits and vegetables, as well as other beverages, such as coffee, tea, milk, soda and juice. In 2004, the Food and Nutrition Board, which may have originally been responsible for the eight-glasses-a-day myth, revisited the issue and stated that “the vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide.”
5. Red wine is the only alcohol with health benefits.
If you drink in moderation, beer can supply you with folic acid, iron, niacin, silicon, fiber, riboflavin and antioxidants — plus B vitamins and folates, which wine doesn’t have. Additionally, beer consumption has been linked to positive effects on bone, mental and heart health; blood clot prevention; diabetes prevention; and longevity.
This article is based on Top 10 nutrition Myths That Are Annoyingly Stubborn Debunked by Melissa Valliant.