So What Does It Mean To Be a Superfood?

superfood smoothie

   Photo credit: avlxyz on flickr

We are definitely in a superfoods era.  In today’s world, it’s not enough to be nutritious, now you need to be a superfood.

What does it really mean to be a superfood?  And why are foods desperately trying to defend their superfood status?  How did this all get started any way?

I wonder if Dr. Steven Pratt, author of the first SuperFoods book, had any idea how much he’s changed the landscape.  I don’t think he had sprirulina smoothies, meal replacements and supplements in mind when he first introduced the concept of superfoods in 2004  Did he?  The book was about 14 foods that will change your life — including blueberries, beans, walnuts and spinach.superfoodcapsules


He was talking about nutrient-dense foods — a concept that’s being reinforced in the new Dietary Guideline for Americans.

These are foods that provide a high ratio of nutrients per calorie.

The new Dietary Guidelines define nutrient-dense foods as:

Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats and poultry, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds that are prepared without added solid fats, sugars, starches, and sodium.

Ok, so maybe “superfoods” sounds sexier.  But that’s basically what it means.  And there’s a lot more to choose from than the original 14 superfoods (Pratt added 10 more in his second book).  However, I believe all fresh, whole foods belong on a superfoods list.

What I don’t think belongs are manufactured products trying to be a superfood.  But there’s a whole industry that’s sprouted up trying to convince you that they’re deserving of the superfoods title — often based on how many antioxidants they contain, if they’re derived from a mysterious berry from the Amazon or the jungles of Africa, or if they’re really really green.

I’m sorry, but those are not superfoods to me.

What is a superfood is oatmeal.


But I found it a little sad that Quaker had to defend its position as a superfood.  Have you seen the new ad campaign?

However, this is the era that we’re in.  Of course oatmeal is a superfood, but it’s being overshadowed by pseudo superfoods. Oatmeal is deserving of the title.  And I’m OK that they’re trying to tout it.

Maybe people need to be reminded that superfoods are already in your cupboard.  They don’t come in a pill, don’t come in a green smoothie. They’re real, whole foods– and they don’t need to cost so much.  You don’t really have to eat grass.


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