Demystifying Superfoods – Are they worth the cost?
Superfoods are commonly defined as food items having extremely high nutritition values. However, you’ll be surprised to know that there is no defined criterea which is used to classify a food item as a superfood and it is mainly a marketing term. In this post, we have put forwarded both the pros and cons of these food items and presented our verdict on the commonly avaiable superfoods in India. To make this post a bit more specific, we will take the case of Spirulina ,one of the most famous superfood, for our discussion.
Spirulina, now widely available in India, is a fresh water plan grown in different parts of the world and is one of the most nutrient dense food on the planet. It is rich in essential amino acids, proteins (almost 60% protein), vitamins, minerals (39 times more iron content than spinach) and is good source of phytonutrients such as phynocyanin, carotenoids, GLA etc.
Some of the major benefits of Spirulina are it:
Helps in lowering blood pressure
Lowers chance of stroke
Helps in preventing cancer etc.
Boosts Energy levels
It is widely used in energy bars and energy drinks. Given the nutritional benefits it seems to be a must have food item in our day to day lives, but are these claims backed by any scientific evidence?
Limited Scientific Evidence
Unlike most of the superfoods Spirulina has been a popular subject of study and debate among nutritionists and scientists alike. Previously, the evidence available to back these claims was studies done only on rats and rabbits. However, over the last 5 years different clinical trials have been carried out on humans to evaluate the therapeutic benefits of Spirulina.
Studies have found limited dosage of spirulina to be hypolipidemic, antiviral, antiallergic etc. But the evidence is still not satisfactory as the sample size in almost all of these clinical trials was limited (though findings were consistent) and moreover, the underlying mechanisms for these effects is not very well understood. The claims that it helps in preventing cancer, chronic fatigue and has antiviral properties though have been found to have no scientific evidence.
Additional research and clinical trials with larger populations are needed to scientifically back the benefits of spirulina. Given the “different” taste, it is difficult to consume regularly even in small quantities and gm for gm different foods having similar nutritive values cost much less. We feel that if one takes balanced diet regularly, there is absolutely no need to include superfoods like spirulina in your diet.