Spinach, nuts, blueberries, green tea, sweet potatoes, whole grains, salmon – have you heard foods like this referred to as “Superfoods?” These foods are rich in important nutrients and thus better for our health, according to some nutrition sources. But is there science behind the Super Food craze? Is it beneficial to load up on these specific foods, especially at the expense of other favorites?
There’s no doubt that so-called Super Foods are a good source of important vitamins and minerals, as well as things like fiber that are lacking in many people’s diets. But to single out these fruits, vegetables or protein sources as though they are the “only” or even the “best” source of the nutrients we need is misleading. For one thing, not everyone likes spinach or sweet potatoes. The good news is, there are other ways to get those important nitrates that are found in spinach -- like beets, for example. Carrots will also give you the vitamin A and fiber that sweet potatoes provide.
People sometimes like to think that Super Foods exist because they seem like a quick and easy answer to more complex nutrition issues. They are also a marketer’s dream; if I sell beans or blueberries, I love the implication that my products are all you need to eat for good health. But food isn’t a magic bullet. There are many paths to construct a health plate and a healthy diet.
Like milk or yogurt? Great! They will provide protein and calcium – but if you don’t like dairy products or can’t consume them because of lactose intolerance, you can get those from other foods that may not be deemed sexy Super Foods.
It’s all about consuming an overall balanced diet, to get the total amount of nutrients that you need!