Emerging trends: Superfoods
In this article, Questia Group focuses on the concept of superfoods, namely on attitudes and behaviors towards healthy eating. Our research was made through an online survey on our platform http://questia.ro covering 661 respondents. The survey was active between 9 and 10 May 2017. Our key findings are presented below.
On a simple search for ‘superfoods’, Google shows 21,600,000 results that guide one to benefits, prices, and opinions on today’s emerging trends on good nutrition. Healthy eating is considered to be part of the holistic lifestyle approach, covering new attitudes to aging or emotional wellbeing. The concept of ‘superfoods’ refers to nutrient-rich foods considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
Some factors relate to how superfoods became a buzzword in our society. For instance, consumers are more open to international influencers due to the globalization of trends. Also, they are becoming more daring in the flavors they try, always searching for the new ingredient, the new fruit or the new taste that can capture their imagination, toppled to the fact that food-consciousness is beginning to outline. Studies point out that the current levels of awareness of superfoods are due to increased attention towards health factors and nutritional benefits, in which online media plays a key factor of dissemination. Needless to mention that since 2007 marketing products as superfoods has been banned under EU rules unless it is accompanied by a specifically authorized health claim that explains to consumers why the product is good for their health.
Taking into consideration that food-related decisions made by individuals are influenced by a complex array of factors and processes, such as demographic factors, familial and household influences, habit and price, health considerations, ethical concerns and wider societal trends – our article highlights key attitudes and behaviors towards superfoods in Romania.
Consumer awareness for superfoods is balanced: only 43.7% heard about this concept.
Asked what types of superfoods they consume, whole grains (45.5%), pistachio (41.6%), hazelnuts (41.0%), green tea (40.5%) and broccoli (38.9%) are the top 5 edibles. On the other hand, quinoa (12.3%), acai (2.6%) and kale (2.0%) are the least preferred and consumed superfoods. Avocado, goji berries, and chia seeds are somewhat in between.
Interestingly enough, in one article from The Guardian , in which the concept of superfoods is questioned, we find out that kale, avocado, goji berries and chia seeds don’t really deserve the superpowers they have been attributed with. For instance, kale is healthy like all other vegetables are, but has a sky-high hipster rating. High consumption of avocado is indirectly fueling illegal deforestation and environmental degradation . Goji berries – although rich in vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin A, iron, selenium and other antioxidants have yet to prove that they do anything more useful than any other fruits, yet they have a ‘good’ hipster ranking.
As for superfood consumption, most people sometimes buy superfoods (48.4%), more than a quarter think the term superfoods is exaggerated and has no impact on their shopping habits (39%), while only a small percent (12.6%) always buy superfoods.
Regarding healthy nutrition, more than a half of the respondents agree that they care a lot about what they eat (78.2%) and that healthy foods are also tasty (62.9%). People believe that they can differentiate between what’s healthy and unhealthy (74.1%), yet almost a quarter (20.1%) consider that healthy nutrition and superfoods are just trifles.
For some, superfoods have started to become more than a trend, but a lifestyle. However, we should also be cautious when referring to such trends, since whole grains, lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, and fresh vegetables and fruit are more likely to be consumed by groups of higher socioeconomic status, while the consumption of refined grains and added fats has been associated with lower socioeconomic status. In this sense, a study documented that the cost of healthy food such as fruits and vegetables is higher than less nutritious, energy-dense food.
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