Superfoods May Not Be So Super

According to researchers at Kingston University, while there’s little doubt that superfoods such as broccoli, blueberries and whole grains contain high levels of super-healthy polyphenols – (compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties) – we may not be absorbing much of these nutrients. In fact, they believe that little of these health-giving properties actually make it past the gut.

“Polyphenols may well work when cells are exposed to them directly, such as under laboratory conditions, but what needs to be established is how effective they are when consumed as part of a food. If they don’t actually get through the gut membrane and into the rest of the body, then they’re not a super food,” said Dr Lucy Jones.

Using a model (Caco-2) developed by cancer researchers, Kingston U scientists were able to simulate the characteristics and functions of the micro-villi, the tiny hair-like projections that aid efficient absorption found mainly in the small intestine. This allowed them to simulate how nutrients are absorbed in the human digestive system.

And what they found was that “while some compounds may have a local effect in the gut itself, in terms of the rest of the body the impact could be negligible.”


I’ve always been a big believer in the saying that “you are what you eat”

Maybe that saying needs to be amended to…”you are what you absorb”.

And if you’re not absorbing the nutrients in your superfoods…maybe they’re not that super..


Douglas Robb

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.

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