What's All The Hype About Superfoods?

It seems as if every day the next “superfood” is introduced.  It is usually from some exotic locale; it has just recently been discovered by someone and saved their life; it will cure all diseases known to man; and it is featured in the latest and greatest multi-level marketing program that is guaranteed to make you a millionaire.  Also, it is generally rather expensive to buy!  Some of the most recent examples include: goji berries, acai berries, Mona Vie juice, chia seeds, seaweeds, spirulina, dark chocolate, and of course all kinds of superfoods combined in green, red, orange, or purple powders to mix in your smoothie.

Please, don’t get me wrong.  I’m in no way saying that these foods are not good for you.  I’m sure they have many of the “super” qualities being touted.  I’m only suggesting that there are many other foods that are probably just as “super” but do not have multi-million dollar marketing campaigns promoting them and will not take as huge a bite out of your wallet.  Also, many of these products claim to cure or reverse aging, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.  While they may contribute to improved health these claims are likely stretching the truth to some extent.  

Wikipedia has the following definition, “Superfood is a term used in various contexts. For example, it is sometimes used to describe food with high nutrient or phytochemical content that may confer health benefits.”  We are also told, “They are superior sources of anti-oxidants and essential nutrients - nutrients we need but cannot make ourselves.”

Here’s the part I like the best, “The term is not in common use by dietitians and nutrition scientists, many of whom dispute that particular foodstuffs have the health benefits often claimed by advocates of particular superfoods. There is no legal definition of the term and it has been alleged that this has led to it being misleadingly used as a marketing tool.”  This is exactly my concern.  Terminology is being thrown around without any agreed upon definition of what exactly a “superfood” is, should be, or should do!

So, are there really “superfoods?”  My answer is yes, but you don’t have to travel all over the world to find them nor do you have to surrender your whole paycheck to buy them.  Superfoods are real foods.  Most of them are located in a grocery store or farm near you.  For example, you don’t have to buy exotic berries.  Blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries work just fine.  

What does my list of “superfoods” look like?  This is In no special order.  The best fruits are berries.  Raw nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and fat.  In the vegetable family it is the dark leafy greens (such as kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and beet greens) and the Cruciferous family (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage).  In the animal family there is grass fed beef, antibiotic and hormone free chicken and turkey, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines which are high in Omega 3’s.  For more details on my list of top foods to eat, click here http://brwellness.blogspot.com/2008/08/ten-foods-to-have-in-your-healthy-diet.html and here http://brwellness.blogspot.com/2008/10/ten-more-foods-to-have-in-your-healthy.html .

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.