If you are working out or looking to improve your diet, then you’ve likely heard about the latest nutrient-packed foods that are gaining popularity. Commonly referred to as “superfoods,” this term has become a new buzzword in fitness and nutrition. Before you spend any money on something that has been dubbed super, read through these guidelines!
What is a Superfood?
The generally accepted definition of a superfood is a food that has a high concentration of vitamins and minerals. Ideally, the macronutrient per ounce ratio in a superfood will be very high, however, there is no set definition given by the FDA. That means that anyone could make a food product and label it as a superfood without having to prove that it meets a certain threshold of nutritional value.
Effectively, “superfood” is a marketing term, not a standard.
Marketing to the Masses
This doesn’t mean that all items labelled as a “superfood” aren’t, in fact, extremely nutrient rich. It does mean that, like anything else, you should do your homework before purchasing. With any new food items that everyone seems to be raving about, I recommend always retaining some skepticism and then researching for yourself. A friend may go on and on about a given food being a “superfood” and how it has completely changed her diet, but upon researching you may find that food is something you’re allergic to or have an intolerance toward. Or, in certain cases the raw food itself may be very nutrient dense, but excess processing could have wiped out most of the nutritional value.
A look into how the company processes the food can save you from buying something that isn’t as healthy as it claims to be. In some cases just buying the raw ingredients and preparing them yourself could help you get the nutrients you are looking for in your diet. Always do your own research, don’t buy into the hype.
Which Foods Aren’t so Super?
To the joy of many people, cocao has often been listed as a superfood. Who doesn’t like the idea of being able to eat lots of cocoa? However, to reap the benefits of the antioxidants you would need to continually consume the cocoa is sufficient quantities. Given the processing and added sugars in most forms of cocoa available, you would likely end up undoing any health benefits before consuming enough to see the benefits.
So, What is Good for Me?
Of the various reports online that tout superfoods and provide a list these few items were always on the top:
Several other items made one or two lists, but these three were consistently rated as having excellent sources of phytonutrients (blueberries and kale) and omega-3 fatty acids (salmon). Be sure to research where your produce came from and how the salmon was raised to ensure that it meets your standards. Every person has a different mindset as to how they want to eat (organic, non-GMO) or what they consider to be okay to eat (vegetarian, vegan, free-range only) so only you can decide what is right for you, not a label.