We’ve used the term countless times here at Skinny Mom and I’m sure you have all read it across every health media outlet. This is a superfood, that’s a superfood. But, how did we come to label foods that way? Better yet, is this an industry standard now? We dug into the issue to track down how exactly this term came to be so popular and give you a better idea of what a superfood entails.

The word first appeared in the early 20th century, some citations include 1915. But, only recently has it become saturated in the media. There is no actual standard to deduce a “superfood.” It’s a general descriptor for a nutrient-rich food or for foods with lots of phytonutrients, which aren’t necessary for you to live (like vitamins) but important in your health regarding disease prevention and bodily functions.

Now, the negative properties of the food, such as large amounts of saturated fats or food additives, are supposed to be few if any. Unfortunately, since there are no legal conditions or terms to use the word, sometimes pseudo-healthy foods sneak through.

Seaweed for example is often referenced as a superfood–good in any form. But, some seaweeds actually contain toxins that may increase risk of cancer and liver damage. Much like everything else eaten in excess, even healthy foods can become unhealthy.

(photo credit here)


Some nations and organizations are placing restrictions on the use of the term. Marketed “super foods” in the European Union must be accompanied by a medical claim supported by credible scientific research. Their rationale is not based on the fact that the foods aren’t healthy, but rather that the studies on the foods aren’t realistic for everyday diets. Studies are done in isolation whereas people should be eating a variety of foods–especially to better reap the rewards of the nutrients.

Also note that to truly get the benefits of the foods, you would have to eat a significant amount. In some cases like cocoa in the form of chocolate…eating a lot would start to be counter productive. Read more on the European Food Information Council’s decision here.

Here at Skinny Mom,  we consider superfoods to be nutrient-dense foods. However, we take into account that studies are constantly disproving and proving new health factors. That’s why we always want to give you “the skinny” on the latest developments in health, fitness and wellness. Know that when we label something as a superfood it truly is healthy for you…IN MODERATION! Read everything with portion-control in mind. It’s all about balance, ladies.