Sylvia Odhner - Comics and Illustration
Superfoods: Are They Really Super at All?
January 28th, 2021

Comic Text
Are superfoods a real thing, or just another health fad?
Person: I'm doing a detox with this superfood juice. It's all I'm eating for five days.
Narrator: How do you feel?
Person: I feel like crap!
It depends on what a superfood is supposed to DO, and what other foods you're eating.
Some foods have a lot of micronutrients per calorie. And if you're in the habit of eating nothing but fast food every day, adding a little kale to your diet can probably boost your health.
But if you're stranded in the wilderness, trying to survive by foraging wild plants, you need calories. In that case, a bucket of fried chicken would be a “superfood” for you.
Some people talk about superfoods as if they have magical powers that can fix all your health problems.
(picture of a turmeric root in a cape)
And that might seem true if you start eating a food that fulfills a nutrient deficiency, or a medicinal herb that helps you improve a health condition.
Person eating salmon: Getting enough omega-3 fats is making me feel like a whole new person!
But there are limitations. Foods high in vitamins and minerals often contain anti-nutrients, which are fine in small quantities, but in large quantities, become toxins.Even essential nutrients can be harmful in large amounts. So if a food is nutrient-dense, that doesn't mean you should eat as much of it as you can!
Person with the detox juice: It doesn't?
Narrator: Nope. You may want to re-think that green juice “detox” you're doing.
Person: Well, what should I eat then? They said dairy was bad, so I started drinking soy milk, but apparently that messes with your hormones. They said grains are unhealthy, meat is bad, now this stuff is bad for me too?! What's left???!! What's the secret to good health? What's the one pure, perfect food I can base my whole life on?
Narrator: This is the problem with the superfood narrative. There is no one food that's perfect for everyone to eat a lot of. It's not like all foods can be sorted into good foods and bad foods. Different foods are good for different people in different amounts. The best way to get all the nutrients you need is by eating a variety of whole foods in moderation.
There are plenty of exaggerated and unfounded claims out there about the healing powers of certain foods. Be careful if you choose to rely on a food as a medical treatment.
(someone's leg has just been torn off)
Other person: Should I call an ambulance?
Person without the leg: Nah, I'll just drink this tea. It's supposed to cure ANYTHING.
Narrator: For most people in Western civilization, adding a few more micronutrient-dense foods your diet is probably a good idea. You can call them superfoods if you want. Just don't over-estimate their powers.
(Someone is falling from a building, the turmeric in the cape is watching in horror)
Person: Help! Turmeric!
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About Me
I'm Sylvia Odhner. You can hire me to make comics like the ones on this site, or other types of illustration-based projects. For more info, check out my services:
Info Comics
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Contact me:
sylvia at sylviaodhner dot com