Why You Can Ease Up On Superfoods

mona-vie-product-picsThe race is on to be the next superfood.

I’ve frequently written about these boastful foods and beverages — whether it’s chia seeds, coconut water, kombucha, tropical berries like acai and gogi, or superjuices, such as MonaVie and Vemma.

As I’ve said before, these products may actually be good for you.  Many do contain an abundance of nutrients or they’re high in antioxidants. But I’m just not sure they deserve such glowing praise — or in many cases, the steep price tag.

Bottom line, I’m opposed to the magical thinking.

And I’m worried an over-reliance on superfoods could cause you to take your eye off the bigger picture and distract you from eating a wide array of nutrient-rich foods.  I’m also concerned about the “health halo” effect that I recently wrote about.  Maybe a giant muffin contains a sprinkling of flaxseed, but that doesn’t erase the amount of calories and fat inside this breakfast cake.

Just because a berry came from the Amazon and rates a high ORAC score, doesn’t mean it’s any better than home-grown fruits that are just as high in antioxidants and cost a heck of a lot less.  In fact, some experts are concerned that our devotion to exotic superfruits may steer us away from eating traditional fruits that don’t seem to live up to the praise bestowed on these more glamorous fruits.  We may just get a dose of the superfruits and end up eating even fewer fruits.

So I’m a bit troubled by today’s extreme worshipping of superfoods. That’s why I was thrilled to see the topic featured in the May issue of Cooking Light magazine (“Good news: You can ease up on superfoods”).  Registered dietitian Kathy Kitchens Downie did a superb job of tackling the superfoods debate. She wrote:

There’s nothing wrong with many superfoods (we will not come between you and your chocolate); what’s wrong is the claim of superpower status.  The superfood concept worries me because it suggests a magic way to get the nutrients you need — when the task of eating a richly varied and balanced diet is not, in our rush-hour world, all that easy anyway.

A single food can’t live up to the hype.  It’s about our pattern of eating…our overall diet.chia-bar

A mountain of evidence supports eating a varied diet than leans heavily on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, with some fish, quality protein and dairy products.  That’s the ticket to the ultimate nutrition goal:  a superdiet.


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