5 phoney, over-priced superfoods to skip this January

By Oliver Smith 10 January 2017

Super salts, tiger nuts, and charcoal?

It’s a new year, which means new health food fads are sure to follow.

Last year it was kale and chia seeds, but what does 2017 hold in store for the world of so-called superfoods?

To set the scene we spoke to Laura Hill, Senior Editor of Welltodo a publication that covers health and wellness, to find out exactly what ‘superfoods’ are.

“Over the past few years the superfood label has become more of a marketing tool,” Hill told The Memo.

“The latest superfoods are often those that have amassed the most media coverage and appear to be the most ‘on-trend’.”

Most of these foods, says Hill, don’t posses any more health benefits than other similar, and cheaper, foods.

So what are supermarkets and brands going to be flogging in 2017?

1. Purple vegetables

Forget eating your greens, this year is all about eating purples.

Yes purple vegetables, like ­purple cauliflower, black rice, purple asparagus, elderberries, acai or purple sweet potatoes.

The colour purple is in vogue as it’s said to indicate a higher density of nutrients and ­antioxidants, there’s even a region in Japan where some locals believe that purple sweet potatoes can extend life expectancy beyond 100 if you eat half a kilo a day…

But given that purple sweet potatoes are more than double the price of regular sweet potatoes in Waitrose (£7.48 per kg vs. £3 per kg), that’s £112 a month on purple sweet potatoes… suddenly those extra years hardly seem worth the extra cost.

2. Super salts

Regular salt just doesn’t cut it anymore. No, ‘super salt’ is the future.

You might have already spotted pink Himalayan salt creeping into supermarkets – Tesco sells it for 35p per 10g, that’s 8,800 times more expensive than regular salt which is 39p for 1kg. These new salts boast a reduction in sodium while including more minerals and retaining a better flavour – unlike the reduced sodium Lo-salt.

The advantage of these ‘super salts’ is also, as their flavours are stronger, you’ll end up using less of it than regular salt while still enjoying the health benefits of being low in sodium.

Other ‘super salts’ you might spot include Indian black mineral salt, Australian Murray river salt, and desert salts like Oryx from South Africa, all of which boast similar claims, at a cost.

3. Activated charcoal

Capsules of charcoal powder… but put away the BBQ, these go in your mouth.

Not only will brushing your teeth with activated charcoal give them a lovely white shine, but its digestion is said to have anti-aging and cholesterol reducing effects.

But, over the last 30 years and covering 159 studies into activated charcoal, there is no credible scientific evidence to suggest it provides any health benefits.

Despite that, Holland & Barrett will still happily take your £5.59 for charcoal tablets and promise to treat your flatulence with them.


4. Tiger Nuts

A surprisingly popular food of the 1950s, Tiger Nuts are making their comeback, this time as a superfood.

Typically eaten as a snack, tiger nuts are apparently low in ­calories and fat, and a great source of potassium, ­vitamin E, iron and unsaturated fatty acids.

It’s hard to know whether Tiger Nuts are actually any better than any other low calorie, potassium-rich nut – cashews anyone? – but for £11 per kg online, you’ve got to be a bit nuts to buy Tiger Nuts.

They’ll make you feel grrrrrreat! For a price.

5. Powdered meal replacements

There’s also an entirely new, but highly controversial, category of ‘superfoods’ springing up.

According to Welltodo’s Laura Hill powdered meal replacements like Huel, are “taking the notion of superfood one step further by creating a formula they claim provides the body with all of the nutrients it needs.”

While slimming meal replacement shakes and powders have been around for a while, Huel and Soylent in the US may have pioneered a new category of meal replacements that are said to work for anyone and provide all the nutrition you need – although these claims are largely based on their word.

Huel isn’t quite as pricey as other superfoods on our list, around £1.61 per ‘meal’, and its gained a devout following among techie types and developers seeking to optimise their diets.

The jury’s still out on whether powdered meal replacements are the future, or even very healthy, one Guardian writer was less than enthusiastic after eating Huel for a week.

We won’t be drinking our dinner anytime soon.