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Superfoods: Hype or holy grail?

2 min read

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It’s easy to see why the superfood craze is so appealing. Incorporate these select few items into your diet, and voila! You’ll get all of the essential vitamins and minerals you need. Why eat carrots, bell peppers, and broccoli when you can just eat kale? The concept of one food containing the majority of your daily nutrients would make healthy-eating much easier, and save the money you spend buying a wide assortment of fruits and veggies.

But how much truth is there to the superfood craze? What qualifications do a particular food item have to meet to be deemed a “superfood”? According to dietician Despina Hyde, the term superfood doesn’t hold much validity but is instead a marketing device coined to increase sales of certain foods which are nutrient-dense.

Many nutrition experts avoid using the term “superfood” because of its consumerist connotation and can lead to unrealistic expectations about the benefits of adding a few select items to your diet. Since there are no criteria for superfoods, any company can claim the title for whichever food product they are promoting.

So what can you do to achieve that “super diet”? Try sticking to a balanced diet, filled with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.

Here are some nutrient-dense foods that you may want to consider adding to your diet. We won’t call them superfoods—but they do have a wide array of benefits.

  1. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, help with inflammation, aid in digestion, and are good for your brain.
  2. Almonds are not only one of the lowest calorie nuts, but they also contain the most calcium. Almonds are a great source of fiber and protein, however, it is important to be wary that when roasted they may contain an excess of salt and trans-fat.
  3. Spinach is a great source of magnesium, iron, B2, B6, folate, vitamin K, vitamin E, to just name a few. Despite the kale craze, many studies actually support that spinach provides more health benefits.
  4. One sweet potato contains your full daily dose of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also are a source of B6 vitamins, vitamin C, and manganese.

You’ll notice that while blueberries and sweet potatoes are often referred to as superfoods, spinach and almonds won’t always make the cut, even though they have similar wide-spread benefits.

While you can’t always trust buzzy labels, remember that the most important factor in maintaining a healthy diet is diversity. Ensure you get all of your essential vitamins and minerals by eating many different types of healthy food.

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