Lately, people have stopped me to ask about various “superfoods” wondering if they need to add the product they just heard about to their diet. I’m finding that the “nutrition” message is getting very confusing. You can’t pick up a newspaper, magazine, watch the evening news, or sign onto Yahoo!, without something about the latest nutrition news on food for health. All of these outlets have opened up the door for the opportunity of inaccurate nutrition advice.
As I was doing my research for this article I decided to “Google” the word “superfood”. More than one million results came up! Which are real? Wikipedia states “superfood is a term sometimes used to describe food with high phytonutrient content that may confer health benefits as a result.” It also states that there is “no legal definition for this term and it has been alleged that this has led to it being over-used as a marketing tool.” Even though the term “superfood” is unregulated the FDA is paying attention. If a product makes a claim that their “superfood” has medicine-like powers it is regulated by the FDA.
Of the various lists of “superfoods” on the internet I didn’t find two alike. In fact, the lists varied from as little as 10 to as many as 40 items! Also some of the so-called “superfoods” weren’t food at all, instead they were supplements. One of the most interesting was something called “Amazing Grass Chocolate Green Superfood “! I actually tried to read the food label that was available, but it was very tiny and blurry. So I tried enlarging it, printing it, and reading it with a magnifying glass. No luck, but I’m sure you don’t find chocolate grass growing in any field!
A lot of the “designer” juices refer to themselves as “superfood” because the fruit is high in antioxidants. According to Marisa Moore, RD, LD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA), “the problem is, there’s scant research to prove the antioxidant content, how much you’re actually get, or if it’s enough to even realize a health benefit”. But products like acia berry, mangosteen, etc., get a lot of hype, while high-antioxidant foods such as grapes, cherries, strawberries, and blueberries offer the same antioxidants and for much less money with much less hype. Also there is much more research on these items and they are locally grown. Many of these imported juices are actually dehydrated in the country of origin and then reconstituted and bottled here. Something else to consider, you need to read the label, a lot of these “superfood” products are high in sugar, corn syrups, and other empty-calorie additions.
What are some “superfoods” I would recommend? It’s very easy. I always tell my clients to eat “color”, which means fruits and vegetables. All of them have something to offer in the way of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and they are low in calories. Even eating a mix of different colors offers you yet another mix of antioxidants as they combine and create another antioxidant. Others are beans — great for fiber and lean protein, because protein is important for cell repair and growth. Also, don’t forget lower fat dairy for your calcium and vitamin D.
According to the ADA, it is more important to focus on a “super diet” than to concentrate on individual or “superfoods”. Bottom line, you do not have to spend a lot of money on imported high sugar juices when we have such great super products in our back yard. Take a drive to the local strawberry stand and buy a basket of fresh picked strawberries that were picked just a few miles away in Carlsbad! Any questions just send me an email. Bon Appetit!