Are we choking on the superfood?
We need food to survive, but are some foods really better than others? We're pulling back the curtains on so-called superfoods to see if they actually live up to their name.
Call it the "Dr. Oz effect."
Hardly a day goes by where we're not bombarded with the benefits of some "newly discovered" superfood found only in one tree located deep in the Amazon that's the answer to everything from cancer to obesity. It's impossible to keep up with them all... and for our wallets to afford them.
Why are we so obsessed with superfoods? It seems to be like the same obsession with getting the newest iPhone — there is always a better model and we can't keep up.
"We're obsessed with superfoods in the same way we're obsessed with how things run in our society — we want everything fast, quick, now. Not to mention, easy," Jamila René, R.D.N., tells SheKnows. "And that is exactly what superfoods promise, or at least how they are marketed to promise."
The problem: The term "superfood" isn't really officially defined, so anything can be referred to as a superfood to trick well-meaning people, who are looking to improve their diets and overall health, out of their money.
"Most nutrition professionals would agree that a superfood is essentially a nutrient-dense food that may provide additional health benefits," adds Rene.
So, it isn't that superfoods are bad — we just need to look at them differently. They're just not some "miracle" foods that will make everything better with one bite or pill.
"Foods like blueberries, açai, pomegranate, kale, chia seeds, quinoa and other so-called 'superfoods' can — and typically are — quite beneficial, but only when included as part of a nutritious, varied and well-balanced diet," adds Rene.
Choose these foods in their whole forms and avoid juices that claim to be super when they might only have a minuscule amount of the super-ingredient in question.
"As a dietitian, I stress a well-balanced diet with LOTS of fruits and vegetables," adds registered dietician Carissa Bealert. "The super and the ordinary, like apples, pears and red bell peppers. In my opinion, if we fill half our plates at every meal with a variety of fruits and vegetables then we are eating superfoods."
Daily multi-vitamins have a place in a well-balanced diet, too. "I'm not against multi-vitamins and they will always have their place as an insurance policy to make sure we're getting all the vitamins and minerals that are essential to our bodies," adds Bealert.
So, put down that bottle of coffee bean extract, stop waiting for a miracle and get proactive with your own health.
"There are no magic foods that will counteract poor eating and exercise habits," Rene adds.