Despite “superfood” being the buzzword in culinary circles for almost a decade, research has found almost half of the population still can’t tell a spiraliser from spirulina.
And while almost two-thirds of Britons know quinoa is a healthy source of protein, most still can’t pronounce it. A quarter of us are clueless about wholegrains, with many suggesting popcorn might be one.
Even so, the study revealed sales of superfoods have shot up - despite health experts saying there is no magic food fix and that the only route to healthy living is a properly balanced diet.
The new study found chia seeds – from a flowering plant native to South America – as well as the ancient grain called spelt, and spirulina – a green algae high in protein and vitamin B12 – are among 2016’s biggest food fads.
But most consumers could not say what benefits they brought and many admitted they had no idea how to cook or eat them either. The survey also revealed that six in ten people cannot identify cacao versus cocoa as a superfood, with virtually no-one knowing the difference.
Plant-based eating is now a major food trend but the poll found 53 per cent of Britons did not believe you could be healthy without eating red or white meat, with more than 30 per cent saying a vegetarian diet is “unhealthy”.
Tammy Fry, marketing director of Fry’s Family Foods, which carried out the study, said: “With no medical or legal definition as to what counts as a superfood, it’s unsurprising we still don’t always understand their health benefits. It is important we don’t just follow the latest food trends but actually take the time to understand how and why the likes of kale and quinoa are valuable to our health so that they become an integral part of our diet in the future.”
Waitrose recently said it will stock fresh seaweed after sales soared by 125 per cent when celebrities claimed it helped them lose weight. And data from Brand View reveals the big five UK supermarkets increased the number of products containing beetroot as a key ingredient by 20 per cent in the last year due to the growing popularity of the once humble root vegetable.
But Alison Hornby, a dietitian at the British Dietetic Association, said: “No food, including those labelled ‘superfoods’, can compensate for unhealthy eating. If people mistakenly believe they can undo the damage caused by unhealthy foods by eating a superfood, they may continue making routine choices that are unhealthy and increase their risk of long-term illness.”