By Shivam Hingorani*
Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room. Statistically, 95% of the global population is unhealthy. The 2018 Global Nutrition Report stated that a poor diet affects every single continent across the world. Less than 1/5 children between six to 23 months consume a minimally acceptable diet, with 7.5% of children not consuming fruits and vegetables every day. Meanwhile, 30.3% of the youth do not consume fruit and 13.9% do not consume vegetables every day.
Closer to home, the EAT-Lancet Commission’s Food Planet Health was formally released in India earlier this year. Similar to the Global Nutrition Report 2018, this report also highlights that people will be required to substantially shift their diet in order for them to consume healthier food.
As per this report, the consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes will have to double globally while the consumption of sugar will have to see a reduction of more than 50%.
This drastic need for a change in diets across the globe has led people to incorporate beneficial food.
In this process, consumers have come across one widely used term -superfoods.
So what exactly is a superfood?
While there are many discussions and debates regarding what exactly constitutes a superfood, a commonly accepted definition is that a superfood is a food (such as spinach, avocado, almonds, broccoli, blueberries, etc.) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.
While the term has been in use since the beginning of the 20th century, it began to see popularity after it was endorsed by physicians in medical journals. After we entered the 21st century, research in scientific journals, the press, and communication from the food industry popularized the consumption of these foods.
Superfoods have seen a rise in popularity in the past 10 years, with internet searches showing more than 37,60,00,000 results online.
In fact, chia seeds have witnessed an 858.89% increase in popularity online, turmeric has grown by 431.88%, followed by curly kale (300%), kefir (297.07%) and avocado (226.19%).
The reason superfoods have seen such rapid growth in their popularity is that consumers are increasingly conscious about the food they are putting into their bodies. As per a Neilson survey, 80% of respondents see food as medicine and consume certain foods that will prevent health problems like diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and obesity. Mintel research from 2015 even shows that there was a 36% increase in the number of food and beverages that were launched under the label of a superfood, super fruit and super grain that year.
The reason for this rapid popularity is the number of health benefits associated with superfoods. As mentioned before, superfoods contain something called antioxidants, which are basically molecules that protect the body’s cells from free radicals.
Free radicals are harmful to the body as they come from sources like cigarette smoke, alcohol and are even produced naturally during metabolism. An excess of free radicals in the body can result in oxidative stress, which can end up damaging the cells of the body and can even lead to diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
On the other hand, superfoods like avocado, spinach, kale, berries, cocoa are good for the heart as they contain monosaturated fats, alpha-linolenic acid, polyphenols, fiber, and flavanols. In addition to this, they contain numerous vitamins and minerals which help boost the immunity of the body, strengthen muscles and bones, and protect the body from wear and tear.
With multiple benefits associated with these foods, more and more manufacturers are introducing products with superfood ingredients into the market. This is a phenomenon that can be seen worldwide, with the global superfoods market expected to witness a CAGR of 7% from 2018 to 2023.
So do you incorporate more superfoods into your diet?
The inclusion of superfoods needs to be effective. Simply having a snack of a handful of almonds doesn’t do the trick. It’s more of a deep-rooted change in mentality and approach towards eating that will crave the path to a super-you.
True-blue superfoods are those which, when consumed in milligrams have an effective result on your overall daily health.
Another great way to consume superfoods is through supplements and superfood powders, with a Technavio report stating that the global superfood powders market is expected to witness a CAGR of over 8% from 2018-2022.
Plant-based protein when crafted to perfection with quality produce, the impact of it is exquisite on your overall health.
Ashwagandha, a cortisol reducer that positively impacts over 50 unfavourable conditions the body can be exposed to.
Amla, a potent Vitamin C source which improves the body’s immune response.
Chlorella, marine algae which has a ‘heavy metal’ detoxifying response in your body.
Tomato Lycopene, amongst the most powerful superfoods for daily skin health.
Green Tea and Grape Seed Extracts empowers your heart health and leads to positive blood flow.
The reason behind this rise in popularity is that people are leading increasingly hectic lives where they do not have the time to sit down and prepare meals. For such people, superfood rich powders are the easiest and most convenient way to incorporate superfoods into their diet.
The manner in which you consume superfoods actually depends on your personal preferences and your lifestyle. However, if you are looking to make a small yet significant change to your diet, superfoods are a great place to start.
* Shivam Hingorani, Founder, Ace Blend (Natural Protein & Superfoods Nourisher)