Superfood. It’s a buzz word. Just what does it mean.
What is a superfood?
Superfoods are just as their name describes…they are super. These foods, like blueberries, acai, goji berries, kale, etc. are nutrient dense meaning your body gets more of what it needs in a smaller portion than from other foods.
“Superfoods don’t have their own food group,” said Despina Hyde, a registered dietician with the weight management program at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “As a dietician, I think ‘superfood’ is more of a marketing term for foods that have health benefits.”
Consuming foods that are packed with nutrients (as many so-called superfoods are) is certainly a good idea, Hyde told Live Science. But the key to a healthy diet is to consume a variety of nutritious foods in the right quantities, she added. 1)http://www.livescience.com/34693-superfoods.html
20 Common Superfoods
You can find many different lists of superfoods, but the most common superfoods are:
- green tea
Is “superfood” just a marketing term?
It is true that it is hard to find peer-reviewed scientific studies that use the term “superfood”. Scientists will agree that healthy eating is beneficial, and consumers are more health conscious in this century.
Some critics have accused the term “superfood” to be simply a marketing term, but I don’t really think broccoli or kale farmers are lobbying for superfood labels. They don’t need to. My Recipes explains:
Broccoli has long been touted as one of the healthiest veggies because of its nutritional makeup. This superfood is loaded with fiber, antioxidants to fight cancer, and vitamin C to aid in iron absorption. While broccoli doesn’t provide as much calcium as a glass of milk, it is a great source of calcium to help control blood pressure and build strong bones. 4)http://www.myrecipes.com/healthy-diet/super-foods/health-benefits-of-broccoli
I’ve never seen a billboard or advertisement or television commercial for broccoli like I have for beef or dairy, both of which have powerful lobbyists in Washington, DC.
There are no official criteria for what makes a superfood super; however, as consumers we know potato chips are not one and wouldn’t fall for that on the label. Thankfully, chocolate can be a superfood 🙂
Some health advocates criticize the term superfood not only as a marketing term but for misleading consumers about their benefits. They are concerned that eating some superfoods may lead them to think they eat junk food at other times as if one cancels out the other. According to England’s NHS, there is no evidence that eating nutrient dense superfood is more beneficial than a simple, balanced diet from protecting us from disease:
Foods that have been elevated to superfood status in recent years include those rich in antioxidants (such as beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, E, flavanoids and selenium) and omega-3 fatty acids.
Antioxidants are chemicals thought to protect against the harmful effects of free radicals, which are chemicals naturally produced in every living cell and known to cause cell damage.
However, evidence about this and other health benefits of antioxidants is inconclusive. In a review of the scientific evidence in 2011 (PDF, 188kb), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found no evidence that the antioxidant action on free radicals observed in the lab was of any benefit to human health…
“No food, including those labelled ‘superfoods’, can compensate for unhealthy eating,” explains Alison Hornby, a dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA).5)http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/superfoods/pages/what-are-superfoods.aspx
I really don’t think “superfood” is simply a marketing term. It’s a term to let consumers know ingredients are packed with nutrition and not simply fillers.
Why you should eat superfoods
Given a choice, why would you not choose to eat nutrient dense food? If your diet is local, then avoiding superfoods from exotic places makes sense, but there are plenty of superfoods that can be grown in all climates.
Not only are superfoods nutrient rich, they are also low in calorie, allergy-friendly, and gluten-free. They give you sustained energy, help maintain healthy weight, and are easily digestible. 6)http://skinnychef.com/blog/best-superfoods-list
I don’t think any person honestly expects miracles from eating superfoods, but knowledge of what foods are nutrient dense helps us make better choices when snacking and planning meals.
One of my favorite superfood companies is Navitas Naturals.
navitas naturals – the superfood company
The mission of Navitas Naturals is to provide the finest organic superfoods that increase energy and enhance health. Since 2003, health-conscious people have been choosing our organic superfoods because they’re a diverse whole-food source of antioxidants, protein, essential fats, minerals, vitamins and other key nutrients.
All of our products are certified organic and use methods such as freeze-drying and low temperature processing to ensure maximum nutrition and flavor. Organic is important for ensuring the integrity of our foods that people eat, and for protecting the environment and the health of farmers.7)http://navitasnaturals.com/company.html
We were sent three Navitas Naturals superfoods snacks to try:
I think my favorite superfood snack we were sent is the maca maple cashews. They are all really delicious and affordable. They are organic, and Navitas Naturals is a company I trust 100%. My only concern is there is a lot of packaging for such a small amount (4 oz) of the product.
Superfoods are good for you. They are packed full of nutrients. They may not make you live forever or turn you into a superhero, but they can help you make better dietary choices. Choosing superfoods when snacking or planning meals is part of healthy, balanced eating.
Image courtesy of Toa55 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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