Superfoods are all the rage and are usually foods that provide you with a range of health benefits to make them great additions to your diet. Sometimes though, foods that are deemed to be superfoods are in fact normal foods that, whether by accident or clever marketing by food companies who produce them, got labelled as superfoods and should in fact, not get treated as such.
Here is a list of 10 foods that are falsely labelled as superfoods and substitutions you can make for them.
1. Manuka Honey
It’s been touted as a cure for viral infections and allergies, and even as a detoxification agent, but while it does contain antioxidants and has some antibacterial properties, most of the claims are unsupported by science. It’s also 80% sugar – and 30 times more expensive than a regular jar of honey. So do opt for that regular jar of honey, so long as its “pure” honey and not mixed with added sugar.
Now ubiquitous in health food shops in the form of sweets or herbal teas, liquorice is claimed to have, ahem, allsorts of benefits. But be wary of your dosage. When eaten every day, its glycyrrhizic acid can cause a reduction in potassium levels, says Anyia, leading to high blood pressure, an affliction that is already on the rise among UK men. If you want a healthy sweet with a ton of health benefits then try some dark chocolate instead.
Granola may taste nice but is actually just a regular breakfast cereal that’s 20% sugar. It has more fibre than regular cereal, but so does a peanut butter sandwich. Opt for regular oats instead and add some extra ingredients that you like such as a scoop of protein powder or a spoon of peanut butter.
4. Almond Butter
Speaking of peanut butter as brought us to its main rival in the world of nut butters. The Californian almond industry has been linked to the deaths of billions of bees. Apart from that, the two nut butters have comparable levels of B vitamins and minerals, but peanut keeps its crown as it contains 5g of protein per spoonful, compared to almond’s 3g.
5. Vegan Cheese
Anything labelled vegan or plant-based tends to be a product made with coconut oil and modified starch. That makes them high in saturated fats. Cashew cream cheese, made by blending nuts with seasoning and yeast, is a natural alternative.
6. Salad Pots
You won’t be shocked to know that the grab-and-go lunch culture we live with actually fosters bad habits as even the seemingly healthy options can fall extremely short. Strip away the low-nutrient iceberg lettuce and miniscule carrot shavings and what you’re left with is a single-use tub full of croutons and dressing, which for up to £5 is daylight robbery. Just plan a bit in advance and make yourself a salad at home the night before or in the morning if you have time and add some protein of your choice, put it in a portable container and your lunch break is saved, as well as your health.
7. Charcoal Bread
From charcoal brioche to charcoal sourdough, this is a trend that refuses to burn out, but while it might look good on Instagram, charcoal has no proven nutritional benefits when used as a colouring, despite detoxification claims. It’s a marketing strategy and even countries like Italy have tried to stop it being marketed as bread. Opt for regular sourdough, wholemeal or another healthier form of bread that you’re fond of.
8. Brown Rice Milk
This healthy-sounding, hypoallergenic plant milk is not only gluten-free, soya-free and nut-free but it’s also absent of anything useful. A glassful contains 12g of sugar and barely a drop of protein – even the unsweetened varieties. Soya is still king when it comes to protein but pea still holds its own too.
9. Banana Bread
The lockdown staple is good for a snack when you’re outside doing a long period of exercise, but less so when you’re shut indoors. Over-ripe bananas contain more simple sugars and less gut-healthy starch than greener ones. It’s a cake really, not a loaf and it will spike your blood glucose. Try making some protein bread using a recipe with less sugars and healthy forms of carbs as energy to fuel your exercise.
10. Egg Substitutes
From gloopy aquafaba to soaked chia seeds or yellow-tinted mung beans, there are many ways for vegans to sub out eggs. Wagamama even has a “fried egg”, made with coconut milk and cornflour. None of that matches the amino acids, choline and vitamin D you get from the real thing.