- Nichola Whitehead, a registered dietitian, says since here is no legal definition of superfood, any food that provides nutrients can be one
- Says we should eat everyday superfoods that are cheap and accessible
- For example, humble sardines are less than half the price of salmon
- Lentils, broccoli, spinach and chickpeas are also all cheap and nutritious
From seaweed to acai berries, every week a new ingredient vyes for the title of ‘superfood’.
And many of us spend much of our hard-earned cash buying green powders and exotic grains in a bid to be healthy.
But some foods we may already have in our fridge or larder are kinder on the wallet than fashionable alternatives, one expert has claimed.
Nichola Whitehead, a registered dietitian based in Leeds, said sardines, broccoli, spinach and chickpeas can be just as nutritious as fancier fare.
She said: ‘There’s no legal definition for what a superfood is, so really any food that provides nutrients is a superfood.
‘We should be celebrating more everyday superfoods; ones that are easier to get hold of or simply are cheaper.’
Many of us spend much of our hard-earned cash buying so-called superfoods such as goji berries in a bid to boost our health. But everyday foods such as raspberries are much lower in sugar, cheaper and tastier
Ms Whitehead used mysupermarket.co.uk to compare average prices of each food.
Now, in conjunction with GoCompare, a price comparison website for insurance, she has suggested 10 cheaper alternatives to known ‘fancy’ superfoods.
For example, sardines, which cost 48p per 100g are less than half the price of salmon, which cost £1.10 per 100g.
Yet they contains the same levels of omega-3, which protects the hear against disease, but three times as much vitamin B12, essential for energy.
And broccoli, at 15p per 100g, is cheaper than kale, which costs 25p per 100g, yet contains more vitamin C and vitamin K, essential for heart function.
From exchanging goji berries for raspberries and quinoa for lentils, below Ms Whitehead shares her 10 top superfood swaps…
Infographic shows the expensive ‘superfood’ on the left, and the cheaper alternative on the right. For example mixed nuts, which cost £1.14 per 100g, are ten times the price of chickpeas at 14p per 100g. And yet, they contain similar amounts of protein and fibre but only a third of the calories
CAN SUPERFOODS ACTUALLY BE DANGEROUS?
Some experts have warned that consuming too many ‘superfoods’ may actually do more harm than good.
Foods such as Gillian McKeith’s favourite goji berries, quinoa and kale can cause a host of problems from thyroid malfunction to arthritis flare-ups, nutritionist Petronella Ravenshear warned last year.
‘My only comment about these foods is that they should be avoided,’ she said.
Goji berries are rich in a chemical compound that increases the risk of a digestive syndrome condition called ‘leaky gut’, argues nutritionist Petronella Ravenshear
She goes on to explain that kale – a favourite among celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow – and increasingly used in ‘green smoothies’ can ‘interfere with thyroid function’ when eaten raw.
Eating too many grains such as quinoa, regardless of how healthy they are – can cause an overload of potentially gut-irritating compounds.
This may be because it may not be as wheat-free as originally thought.
Meanwhile goji berries are rich in a chemical compound that increases the risk of a digestive syndrome condition called ‘leaky gut’.
‘Consume with caution, especially if you have arthritis, and instead eat blueberries, raspberries,strawberries and blackberries for antioxidants – and a better taste,’ she advises.
James Watson, a scientist who helped discover the structure of DNA, agrees that some superfoods should actually be avoided.
Kale – a favourite among celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow – and increasingly used in ‘green smoothies’ can ‘interfere with thyroid function’ when eaten raw, Ms Ravenshear added
Along with supplements, superfoods do not prevent the disease and may even cause it, he said.
It is widely believed they boost health and fight cancer by mopping up oxygen molecules called free radicals.
But Dr Watson argues these may be key to preventing and treating cancer – and depleting the body of them may be counter-productive.
He said a vast number of studies had found antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E and the mineral selenium, have ‘no obvious effectiveness’ in preventing stomach cancer or in lengthening life.
Instead, they seem to slightly shorten the lives of those who take them, and vitamin E may be particularly dangerous.