Dietitian vs superfoods: What are the health benefits and risks?

Thursday 04th Jul 2024 |

Unsurprisingly, superfoods are on the rise, with searches for “everyday superfood” increasing by 200% in the UK in the last month.

There is clearly a rise in consumers being health conscious, especially in the summer months. But are these everyday superfoods actually super good for you?  

Med Genius ( looked into the most commonly Googled superfoods in June and extracted over 100 different types of superfoods. They researched the ones being searched the most and spoke with a registered dietitian, Trista Best, from Balance One Supplements ( comment on the health benefits and the possible risks of some of these popular superfoods.

Coffee Benefits: Rich in antioxidants and can improve cognitive function and mood. It has been linked to a lower risk of several diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes. The caffeine in coffee can also enhance physical performance and metabolism.

Coffee Risks: Excessive coffee consumption can lead to insomnia, anxiety, digestive issues, and increased heart rate. High intake may also increase the risk of osteoporosis and hypertension in sensitive individuals.

Apple Benefits: These are a great source of fibre, vitamins (especially vitamin C), and antioxidants. They can help improve digestive health, support weight management, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Apple Risks: While generally safe, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to apples. Additionally, the high sugar content in apple juice can contribute to weight gain and blood sugar spikes if consumed in large quantities. 

Fig Benefits: These are rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals like potassium and calcium. They support digestive health, bone density, and may help regulate blood sugar levels. Their antioxidant properties can also protect against cellular damage.

Fig Risks: Figs contain oxalates, which can contribute to kidney stones in susceptible individuals. They are also high in natural sugars, which may affect blood sugar levels and contribute to weight gain if eaten excessively.

Quinoa Benefits: This is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, and is high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. It supports muscle repair, and digestive health, and provides sustained energy. Quinoa is also gluten-free, making it a suitable grain alternative for those with gluten intolerance.

Quinoa Risks: Quinoa contains saponins, which can cause digestive discomfort in some individuals. Proper rinsing before cooking can mitigate this issue. Overconsumption may also lead to excessive intake of certain nutrients like manganese and phosphorus.

Avocado Benefits: These are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, particularly potassium and vitamin E. They support heart health, improve cholesterol levels, and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. The healthy fats can also enhance nutrient absorption from other foods.

Avocado Risks: High in calories, avocados can contribute to weight gain if eaten in large amounts. Some individuals may experience allergic reactions or digestive issues due to their high-fat content.

 Kimchi Benefits: This is a fermented food rich in probiotics, which promotes a healthy gut microbiome and improves digestive health. It is also high in vitamins A, B, and C, as well as antioxidants, which can boost immune function and reduce inflammation.

Kimchi Risks: High sodium content in kimchi can contribute to hypertension and other cardiovascular issues if consumed in excess. Some people may also experience digestive discomfort or allergic reactions.

 Kombucha Benefits: This is a fermented tea that contains probiotics, which can improve gut health and digestion. It also offers antioxidants and can help detoxify the body by supporting liver function.

Kombucha Risks: Some studies suggest it may boost immune function and energy levels. Kombucha can be high in sugar and, if not prepared properly, may contain harmful bacteria and yeast. Excessive consumption can lead to digestive issues, and its acidity can affect tooth enamel and aggravate acid reflux.

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