Superfood Marketing Hype – It’s Not That ComplicatedIngredients | Dr. Nishant Rao | May 4, 2009 at 5:41 pm
It seems like every few months there is another ‘superfood’ which hits the market in a sexy package promising to deliver more health benefits than a magic genie in a bottle.
I decided to write this article after I discovered that “dr_oz” the twitter tag (3626 followers – duped like me I presume) is not the real Dr. Oz, but simply an acai berry peddler who uses Dr. Oz of the Oprah show‘s name as a way to drive business (apparently he mentioned it once on the show). My twitter account is over run with these. Sad and pathetic marketing strategy aside, it reminded me how easy it is to sell ice to Eskimos.
Pomegranate, blueberries, acai, noni, mangosteen- what other fruits have millions of marketing dollars behind them? The truth is that as soon as you put almost any colorful fruit or vegetable under the microscope there is a treasure trove of complex biochemistry and phytochemicals with innumerable health benefits. Researchers, after spending millions to research the humble pomegranate, realize that there is a huge consumer market and then create a product with the research to back it.
Go to Google and try this: Cancer + (pick any fruit or vegetable). Amazing right?
There is no secret to longevity, the challenge is to actually implement the basics. Take the Okinawa project for example. The world’s longest lived people and the largest concentration of centenarians are from this small area in Japan. Scientists have been trying to understand what makes them unique and in the end found this: Okinawan’s eat an average of seven servings of vegetables and fruits a day.
There were several other components to their longevity. However- they don’t need a multi million dollar marketing campaign with accompanying research and sexy packaging to ensure they get their dose of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Neither do you for that matter.
All of these fruits and vegetables have their own health benefits. I am not denying this. But, what I am constantly hearing is, “Dr. Nishant, is pomegranate juice good for me? Is noni juice good for me?” The answer is, “Sure, why not?”
My dear mother-in-law Hasmik just asked me about asparagus and cancer. The article she forwarded had tons of research and testimonials from people who ate 4 tablespoons of pureed asparagus a day which cured their cancer. Yes asparagus contains a very high amount of glutathione, one of the strongest antioxidants in the body. There are several vegetables like this which do contain specific phytochemicals which are useful for specific conditions (the Brassicaceae plant family and its cancer fighting isothiocyanates found in broccoli and cabbage).
This type information and research is very useful, but please not another ‘miracle food’ with antioxidant values “off the charts”. The only thing off the chart is the mass marketing using fruits which tend to be exotic/unknown to the target market.
They are all good for you in as much as any red-yellow-orange-colorful antioxidant packed miracle of nature is. Spend the millions of dollars of research on something useful. Just fill your diet with organic colorful fruits and vegetables and don’t play into the mass marketing hype of an industry on green steroids – groids. We are surrounded by super-foods, we just don’t realize thats what they are called. Ice to Eskimos.
Leave a comment with your favorite fruit/vegetable of the red-orange-yellow kind and I guarantee you each one has a unique phytochemical with miracle antioxidant properties which you could buy for $0.80 a pound from a farmers market, or pay $7.00 for the processed, packaged, internationally shipped and lifeless commercial version. Do enjoy these products occasionally, they’re often delicious, but don’t think they are the revolutionary products they claim to be. It’s generally much simpler than we think.
Dr. Nishant Rao is a co-founder of WellWire.com. He is a well-traveled naturopathic doctor and new father, practicing an integrative approach to create wellness in and around Los Angeles. Become a patient or discover his practice.