Superfoods: Where our modern Batman meets Robin
Everyone loves a superhero, at one point or another. Maybe, when we were kids, we wanted a personal hero or aspired to be one. Although everyone knows it is not humanly possible as we get older and when reality kicks in, there is a certain allure about having it all or an “invincibility complex”, due to our innate desire for prominence and significance. Could the boom of our superfoods in current culture be a testimony to that innate desire living in us?
Rise of Superfoods
In recent years, our increasingly health-conscious societal culture, largely fueled by the obsession to maintain youth and vitality, as well as lean and healthy figures (no thanks to the high fashion), has led to a cacophony of healthy eating trends. These includes juice cleanses claiming to have detoxifying and revitalizing benefits, and diets such as the raw food diet, the Paleo diet or the Atkins, just to name some specifics.
However, perhaps all these are not as prevalent as a class aptly named ‘Superfoods’ – foods that have been marketed to promote exceptional health benefits; such as having powerful antioxidants which fight free radicals and by extension the aging process (pomegranate), keeping the belly fat off(green tea), or having anti-inflammatory benefits(blueberries).
…make it our lifestyle to choose the right balanced diet now and appreciate superfood as little supplements to make our lives even better.
The Undercurrent before the Rise
The 2010s are now a far cry from the 60s and 70s, where healthy eating meant eating three square meals per day, sitting down regularly with emphasis on the importance of quality social conversation during meal times.
Nowadays, especially due to our hectic local culture, meals tend to be of the ‘grab and go’ variety than of a traditional sit down meal. Oatmeal or porridge gets replaced by a sandwich or a banana prior to rushing for the morning bus or train to work, and even after work, a Subway sandwich comes to mind first rather than a plate of home-cooked pasta which requires our time and effort. It is understandable then, that foods which have power-packed antioxidants, nutrients and minerals able to restore our body’s vitality would garner so much appeal worldwide, as everybody wants to stay healthy despite the modern day busyness.
While technically there is no scientific evidence to prove that the so-called ‘superfoods’ are superior to other foods beyond being a marketing strategy- after all, pomegranates contain Vitamin C, but so does our common orange- there is no doubt our new found health heroes, superfoods, have made a boom in the health food industry by raking in millions of dollars each year, sparking things from morning juice cleansing ideas to even dark chocolate-coated goji berries as a seemingly healthier snack alternative.
Whether you are a health junkie or not, it is hard not to come across some information on superfoods, as it is well documented not just in magazines, but all over social media sites. A hashtag search on Instagram for example, would inevitably yield mentions of a wide range of superfoods including popular ones like pomegranates, so long as the keyword starts with #healthy. There are social media accounts and pages too which pay tribute to superfoods, with posts ranging from how one can utilise superfoods in daily eating or superfood recipes, from a homemade parfait made from Greek yoghurt, goji berries and berries- to some avocado toast.
Try the search. Superfoods have omnipresence on the Internet, if one wants to put it this way.
Perhaps this superfood hype are indicators of our subconscious inborn desire for some kind of have-it-all complex somehow, though as grown people (or maybe growing ones like young adults whose parent/s would rather you save your own money for your future education and you aren’t responsible for your own taxes and bills yet) we may no longer believe in the childhood form of superheroes, so to speak.
Robin to his Batman, Harley Quinn to her Joker: Good health’s sidekicks
However, if there’s one thing we could take away from our childhood visions of heroes, is that heroes often have sidekicks to spice up and complete their stories, even though they are often underrated. In comics some of you may read in your childhood days, Batman saves the citizens of Gotham with his Robin, while his nemesis the Joker was accompanied by an equally demented sidekick like Harley Quinn to wreak havoc in Gotham. This superhero/villain and sidekick partnership can be observed in the field of nutrition as well. Foods often work together with their respective containing nutrients to promote overall health. For example, calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D, which can be found in fish, eggs and dairy, all band together to form strong bones and teeth.
In this age of the superfoods, it seems that complementary nutrients have gone somewhat underrated in the midst of our cultural health food crazes, just like the sidekicks in our childhood comics. While having a berry parfait for breakfast may be healthful, other forms of sustenance such as carbohydrates and proteins are needed for anyone wanting to stay in optimum health as well. In addition, it does not mean that by having a healthier meal now with added sidekicks, you could easily indulge with minimal guilt, in a more “sinful” meal later.
So the truth is that superfoods are not ‘Super’ by themselves. They will not make up for the lack of carbohydrates and proteins in our diet, nor nullify the harmful effects of processed food or a “sinful” meal. It is possible to eat a lot of superfoods but yet have one’s health fall flat. To worsen things, very often foods which are lauded to contain superfoods are laden with many other unhealthy ingredients unknowing to consumers. After all, good health has fundamentally been about choosing the right food and striking a balance, as any wise elders will tell us. A good balance of natural food, with minimal preservatives and additives, is essential to the betterment of our health. And this will require our conscientious effort to make it part of our lifestyle to pick the right food to fuel our days.
Those who have parents and/or grandparents who tell us to ‘put on more meat’ and trying to coax us to bigger helpings of rice will empathize. Before we grab the quick instant food on the shelf for a convenient meal, think again about how they could have been processed. While not discounting the value of adding these so-called superfoods into our daily diets to increase the wholesomeness of our meals, it is important to not undermine the other foods, and food groups, or overlook the importance of consuming natural food, that are not raised up in our modern health culture. One does not need to play up any single character to increase the appeal of a dish, but instead the simple, sincere and natural ingredients should all come together to make the meal complete, just like in the Avengers.
Perhaps it’s time we got back to the fundamental natural basics. The way our grandparents all did and stayed healthy, before the term superfoods was even invented. Let’s not be too caught up with the idea of superfood being a ‘Super’ all-inclusive savior to our diet, but rather, make it our lifestyle to choose the right balanced diet now and appreciate superfood as little supplements to make our lives even better.
Mabel is a Dessert Artist at All The Batter who is also an avid writer. Marrying her key interests, she’s all ready to whip up her best articles on food, and of course..food for you!