Our everyday foods may not be as 'ordinary' as we think

safefood launches new campaign designed to encourage greater intake of ‘Superfoods’

6 November, 2006. Earlier today safefood launched a new campaign designed to raise awareness of the benefits of eating everyday foods. The ‘Superfoods’ campaign focuses on encouraging people to eat leaner meat, and increase their intake of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, foods which all have super nutritional properties but often get overlooked.

Poor diets that are low in fibre, fruit and vegetables and high in salt, fat and saturated fat contribute to diseases such as stroke, cancer, heart disease and obesity. In Northern Ireland thirty five percent of deaths are due to heart disease, stroke and diseases of the circulation, with an additional three out of ten deaths due to cancer¹. The changes suggested by safefood are designed to help people address the quality of their own diets, and impact positively on their health in the long-term. ‘Superfoods’ such as lean meat, whole grains, fruit and vegetables are lower in calories and fat than many foods and contain essential vitamins and minerals which can help control cholesterol and blood pressure and may also help combat obesity. 

Dr. Cliodhna Foley Nolan, Director of Public Health, safefood said, ‘Superfoods are regular foods with special nutritional properties, foods which we should try to eat more of. For example, trimmed lean red meat is much lower in salt and fat than processed meat, and fruit and vegetables offer a huge number of benefits, from anti-oxidants to fibre. Our recommended changes are small, but if adopted, could have a big impact on health, over time.’

On the island of Ireland, salt and saturated fat intakes are higher than the recommended intake for heart health. A significant proportion of these come from meat, so switching to leaner meats could also have a positive impact on health.

Furthermore, more than three out of four people on the island do not eat enough fibre2, which is important for gut health. Switching from white bread to brown could improve this situation and provide real benefits. In Northern Ireland over half of people prepare meals from raw or fresh ingredients less than once a week3 and eight out of ten people eat less than the recommend five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, with a third eating just two or fewer portions4. The health benefits of fruit and vegetables are well known and meeting recommendations could have widespread public health benefits.

Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood commented, “Consumers are familiar with new “functional foods”, which are marketed to have a specific health benefit. This campaign aims to remind consumers that in reality, most normal everyday foods can be called ‘Superfoods’. They are not as “ordinary” as we think and can be just as beneficial”.

The safefood ‘Superfoods’ campaign comprises innovative advertisements, using quirky voiceovers creating personalities for a banana, lean meat, pea and wholegrain bread. The characters’ personalities are at odds with their appearance and explain in a humorous and engaging way, the benefits of including ‘Superfoods’ in a daily diet.

Ends

For more information

Sarah Young or Kathy Doyle    
IAS SMARTS     
Tel: 028 9039 5500 

or

Fiona Gilligan
safefood
Tel: 01 4480600

  1. British Heart Foundation Statistics Database, Coronary Heart Disease Statistics 2004.
  2. North/South Ireland Food Consumption Survey Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance Summary Report 2001.
  3. Consumer Attitudes to Food Standards Wave 6 Northern Ireland Report Prepared For: Food Standards Agency And COI February 2006
  4. Consumer Attitudes to Food Standards Wave 6 Northern Ireland Report Prepared For: Food Standards Agency And COI February 2006

Editor’s notes

1. Some examples of superfoods:

  • Unrefined carbohydrate foods such as whole grain bread, jacket potatoes, brown rice and oatmeal. These provide fibre for a healthy gut and slow down the release of energy from foods
  • All fruit and vegetables. These help to ensure that we get all the vitamins and minerals we need for good health. They also provide antioxidant nutrients to enhance natural defenses as well as soluble and insoluble fibre.
  • Lean meat. Meat is one of the main sources of saturated fat in our diets and processed meat is one of the main sources of salt. Choosing leaner cuts of red meat, as well as poultry and fish can reduce intakes of saturated fat and salt in Ireland and help maintain the population’s heart health.

2. On the island of Ireland the mean saturated fat intake is 14% of energy compared to the recommended intake of 11% of energy or less.

3. Salt intakes are in the region of 10 grams per day compared to the recommended intake of 6 grams or less per day.