Snake oil Superfoods?
Blueberries. Goji. Wheatgrass. Kale. Do any so-called “Superfoods” really have super powers?
Our pain-staking, hand-curated and interactively visualized scientific evidence for superfoods can answer.
Regularly updated with revitalising boosts of fresh data.
UPDATED Nov 2020: Downgraded Omega 3 & Fish Oil for various conditions. Rewrote descriptions. Removed some superfood supplements and placed them in our Snake Oil Supplements visualisation.
UPDATED May 2019: New evidence boosts ginger for morning sickness, broccoli for cancer, and beetroots for exercise performance, among many others. New entries include kale for cholesterol and kiwi for constipation. Downgraded: citrus fruits for cancer, garlic for colds, and several more. See the data.
We’ve spent months reviewing the evidence, deep mining scientific studies, reviews, and meta-analyses, to find foods that actually have a demonstrable “super” effect on medical conditions or health in general.
We found a soup of mixed results.
An important note about the data
Unlike medicines or supplements, superfoods are difficult to test in controlled conditions. In usual medical studies, participants are ‘blinded’ to what they are receiving, be it a real treatment or a fake ‘placebo’ one. It’s hard to create convincing placebo foods, so these kind of controlled studies for superfoods are scarce.
So, for some of our evidence, we’ve had to use (less reliable) studies that statistically survey large populations of people (epidemiology) to find results.
Several foods – such as several promising seaweeds – only fall below the “worth it” threshold because a lack of studies.
Foods of the Future
We’ll be maintaining this viz for the foreseeable future and updating it with new evidence as it appears. If you spot any, feel free to contact us
Until then, enjoy a daily bowl of barley porridge with nuts, prunes & blueberries. Mix flaxseed and seaweed into your scrambled eggs. Wash it down with two cups of coffee and a glass of beetroot juice. Super!
» See the data: bit.ly/snakeoilsuperfoods
» See our companion visualization on Nutritional Supplements
This interactive ‘Balloon Race’ code is powered by our forthcoming VizSweet software – a set of high-end dataviz tools for generating interactive visualizations. We’re currently in beta. Web | @vizsweet