From crackers to nutrition bars to chocolate, it seems like a lot of brands use some derivative of the word “superfood” on product packaging. There technically isn’t an agreed-upon definition for this ubiquitous word--the FDA doesn’t have a list of tested and approved superfoods, and most attempts to scientifically rank nutrient-dense foods have fallen short.
The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbing Capacity) value, for example, measures the antioxidant capacity of foods, i.e. the ability of foods to eliminate free radicals. Foods with high ORAC based on a typical serving include red wine, baking chocolate, pomegranate juice, apples, blueberries and more. But ORAC is just one aspect of health—a diet of wine, chocolate and juice is obviously not “super.”
So if they’re not talking about ORAC, then what do brands mean when they print this ubiquitous term on packaging?
Packaging expert Blake Mitchell, president of the food marketing firm Interact, likens "superfood" labeling to "natural," and he's definitely seeing the term grow in popularity.
"While the true definition of a superfood has always been a bit gray, I think the marketing term 'superfood' is peaking and will soon hold the same meaning as 'all natural,'" he says. "This isn't necessarily a bad thing if the actual product is good. We are all for consumers eating healthier, and if certain terms like 'all natural' and 'superfood' become purchase drivers and will help them achieve this, then, amen!"
Here, find a small sampling of products that tout their "super" status loud and proud.