Which Superfoods Aren't Actually Super At All?

Which Superfoods Aren't Actually Super At All?

It's way more fun to finish off a big ol' bar of dark choco when you can convince yourself it's good for you. Because c'mon, science says so… in all those random studies you've seen floating around the internet… right? Well, surprise, surprise, it turns out there are a bunch of false facts out there regarding the health benefits of your favourite treats.

Now, the team at Information is Beautiful have visualised the scientific evidence — or lack thereof — behind what they dub Snake Oil Superfoods, breaking down hard data in an infinitely clickable format.

Each of the coloured bubbles on the page corresponds to a specific food, but also a specific claim; so, some edibles make multiple appearances on way opposite ends of the spectrum. For instance: Garlic tops the chart with strong trials supporting that it lowers blood pressure, but bottoms out with no backup that it also functions as a cancer treatment (fish oil, omega 3s and broccoli sprouts were the only three that clocked in above the "worth taking threshold" for cancer prevention, with most other fruit and veg hovering in the "inconclusive" realm).

Which Superfoods Aren't Actually Super At All?

You can filter by health condition — think weight control, cardio, sex (which has two entries, both of which are busts) — or type of food. Poke around and see where your favourite nom-noms pop up, and you can check out the epic Google spreadsheet with all the reports the IIB gang riffled through and notes they took to come up with their findings.

It's kinda tough not to be sceptical of, well, everything you see online — these kinds of debunks included — because moderation and common sense should reign supreme. But, hey! Dark chocolate actually fares pretty well — brb, scarfing down a Scharffen Berger. [@PeterSokolowski]

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Comments

    It's pretty safe to say that there are zero "superfoods". If marketing hype and fringe studies really translated into reality we'd all be superhuman gods by now...

    That's the beauty of the natural world. With no one around to make a buck from marketing a natural food/herb versus patented product, the science just never seems to get done (or paid for).

    It's therefore very poor logic to assume that there are "zero superfoods" on the basis of lack of scientific evidence.

    Reliance on word of mouth and anecdotal evidence is as good as you get! Pretty much the way it was in the good ol' days...

    In Australia you can sell anything and make almost any claim. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has bizarre rules for health supplements etc. You can claim a product can do anything and only have to have "evidence available". They don't even ask for it. You just have to have it 'available'. Guess how many do? Not many.

    If you get caught out in one of their random checks, all is not lost. You can still sell supplements as "traditional medicine" as long as has been used somewhere in the world "traditionally". Even it has been scientifically proven not to have that effect.

    You can make money from from natural foods... just look at Goji Berries. Disgusting taste, no better for you than delicious blueberries, used to cost $4 a Kg.... Oprah calls them a super food, add marketing hype, now they cost $17 a Kg.... Hmmmm

    1. Goji Berries
    2. Oprah
    3. ....
    4. PROFIT!!!!!11!!

    Check out all the weight control/loss related ones are BS except coconut oil. Pretty intresting because prior i thought coconut oil was terrible for your weight.

    First it was fish oil,
    Then came red krill oil,
    Now I see golden calamari oil.
    What's next? Goosefoot Starfish Oil?

    Bartley & Oats.

    You sir just confirmed Beer as a superfood. Just add fried fish in olive oil and a supermeal.

    Don't question the science...

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