Our health is priceless, so why are the supposedly healthiest foods so outrageously expensive?
People are starting to speculate about the so-called ‘superfoods,’ if one food is better than all the others, it must do or contain something pretty spectacular. Yet there is very little, to no evidence, to suggest that they do. These particular foods, which have become something of an elite club, are no better for us than the diet staples we have been eating for centuries. The only thing suggesting that these foods are ‘super’ is the price tag.
I’ve taken a select few members of the ‘superfood’ club and offered an equally beneficial alternative that won’t have you breaking out in a cold sweat at the checkout – in fact they’re probably already in your fridge.
Let’s get this straight, there is nothing exotic about kale. It contains the same amount of nutrients as any other green veg and it can easily be grown in your own back garden. Green veg such as cabbage and broccoli are half the price and just as good for us, they just aren’t as Instagram friendly right now.
The goji berry, famously used in Chinese medicine for it’s healing powers and equally famous for being outrageously expensive in the supermarket. There is no evidence to show that the goji berry is more beneficial than any other fruits and a BBC documentary showed that fruits such as strawberries contain the same amounts of vitamin C. Fresh raspberries even contain less sugar and are therefore a better option for our diets and our purses.
Alternative: Rapeseed Oil
Coconut oil has just as good of a rep in the bathroom as it does in the kitchen, but this reputation comes with a hefty price tag and the many benefits it is applauded for are apparently unfounded. Much better to invest in an oil such as rapeseed which contains healthy fats, or just stick to good old vegetable oil. Though I’m not sure I’ll be applying these to my hair and skin just yet.
Quinoa is famously a good source of amino acids, great news for vegans as isn’t animal-based. However, the store cupboard staples, lentils and rice are proven to contain just as much in amino acids and even more in fibre and protein and are much, much cheaper. baked beans and peanut butter on wholegrain toast are also effective ways for vegans to get those essential nutrients without having to take out a loan.
For some reason, wheatgrass has had a bit of a moment, becoming a favourite at health spas and gaining a reputation as the ultimate detox drink. It claims to boost red blood cell production and salve inflammation of the colon, however there either no evidence of this or it is inconclusive. The nutrient content is equivalent to that of the more common vegetable such as broccoli or spinach and a single shot – the fashionable way to consume it – doesn’t even count as one of your five a day. Need I mention that it tastes awful?
Alternative: Sesame Seeds
The chia seed phenomenon has been quite something. Filtered photographs of them filling our Instagram feeds, sprinkled on top of cereals or mixed into a suspicious looking slop known as chia pudding. What happened to the good old sesame seed? They are far cheaper, contain almost double the amount of iron, with higher levels of calcium, magnesium and vitamin B6.
Blueberries are certainly healthy and a welcome addition to the bowl at breakfast time. However, these two fruits are roughly the same price in the supermarket and blackberries contain twice as much vitamin C.
While there is evidence to support the fact that oily fish is a beneficial addition to our diets, this doesn’t mean we have to spend a fortune on it. Sardines are almost half the price of salmon but have none of the positive hype surrounding them. While they contain similar amounts of Omega-3, sardines contain more vitamin B12.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that people should eat whatever they want and whatever makes them feel good. I just don’t believe that we should be spending a small fortune every time we do the weekly shop because a wellness blogger tells us one vegetable is better than all the others, or because everyone is sharing photos of their wheatgrass smoothies on Instagram. Especially when more often than not there is absolutely no scientific evidence to back up the claims. I wanted to show that there is no such thing as a ‘superfood’- all food is super because it keeps us alive. As for a ‘superfood diet’, I’d prefer to call it a balanced one.