Kale, goji berries, salmon, quinoa, broccoli sprouts...all have been heralded as superfoods. But what makes these foods so special? Guest contributor Dena Gershkovich weighs in.
The term superfood likely first appeared as part of a food marketing strategy, according to an article by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Source. Around the time of World War I, there was a major import of bananas, and the United Fruit Company wanted to encourage people to eat the fruit. This marketing led to a buzz around the term superfood.
The superfood buzz was further perpetuated after physicians used the term in medical journals, when discussing how a banana diet can be used to treat conditions such as celiac disease (this was before a gluten-free diet was found to be the best way to treat celiac disease). Soon, tons of moms were preparing banana-based foods for their kids, even if they did not have celiac, due to all of the hype. (As an aside – I really can’t imagine only eating bananas! Those poor kids!).
Just so we’re clear here, the term superfood was not coined by a nutrition professional or food scientist. It was popularized by smart marketing strategy.