If you’ve ever tried to lose weight or build muscle you will have heard of the term ‘superfood’. Coinciding with the natural foods movement and general rise in healthy eating awareness, superfoods have boomed over the past decade. According to YouGov research 61 percent of us have bought a product purely because it was branded a superfood on the packaging.
We’ve all heard of the usual superfoods, whether it be goji berries, kale, quinoa or oily fish, but what is a superfood? A superfood is a term used to describe foods which have supposed health benefits. It is worth noting however, that there is no official definition of a superfood and the EU has banned the term being used on any packaging unless it is backed up with scientific evidence.
Recently there has been a boom in a new superfood… Garcinia Cambogia. Garcinia Cambogia is a fruit which is native to India and Asia where it has been eaten for centuries. The reason for it’s sudden boom in popularity is simple: its rather bold claims. It is claimed that Garcinia Cambogia can:
Slow the conversion of carbohydrates to body fat
Lower the appetite between meals
Reduce the amount you eat during meals
With these health benefits, it’s no wonder it has been flying off the shelf. The question is, how accurate are these claims and can one small fruit really aid weight loss?
Based on studies, there is potential for this supplement to help with weight loss by making people feel fuller sooner and aiding the body to turn the food we eat into a usable energy source instead of storing it as fat. It may also help to improve moods as it can alter seratonin levels. Another benefit suggested by the research is that while weight may not change, body composition does, with the body losing fat and gaining more lean body mass.
It is worth pointing out at this point that research into Garcinia Cambogia was only conducted over 12 weeks and it is not recommended to use it for longer than this time frame. The main reason for its label as a superfood is its high levels of hydroxycitric acid (HCA) and research into the long term effects of this on the body are also still to be conducted.
As with nearly all fad diets and superfoods, there is evidence to both back-up and contradict their claims. One study in the effects of Garcinia Cambogia placed 12 people on the supplement and 12 on a placebo. The results showed the group on the placebo lost more body fat and more weight. It is worth remembering that everyone of us is different and what works some, may not work for others.
Superfoods are a great way to give yourself a boost and some may feel the benefits more than others. For this reason, to get the very best nutrition and to keep your health in top shape, you need to maintain healthy eating habits as part of your lifestyle and not just rely on superfoods to give you that boost. Make superfoods an addition to your usual diet.
On the subject of superfoods it’s best to let Alison Hornby of the British Dietetic Association have the final say:
“No food, including those labelled as ‘superfoods’, can compensate for unhealthy eating.”