The Truth About Superfoods

What’s so super about ”superfoods” anyway? So called superfoods are simply foods that are packed with nutrients and are seen to have a significant amount of health benefits. However, the term “superfoods” was invented as a marketing buzz term to suggest that any food under the label would provide significant health benefits. While the term has been recorded as far back as the 20th century, it has only become popular in mainstream advertising and language within the last 10 years. The media claims to have the latest research on these specific superfood groups, exclaiming that consumption of these foods will lead to optimum health. Some recent headlines suggesting as much:

“Shed pounds with superfoods and get your body back”
“Superfoods: The key to perfect skin!”
“These superfood seeds you need to be the strongest you.”

Marketing tactics seem to almost suggest that if you consume these superfoods alone, there is no need to consume other foods. Foods you often see marketed this way are exotic and expensive foods that you can only get at health food stores or online. To name only a few: Goji berries, chia seeds, spirulina, maca, dandelion root, acai, and moringa. And while these trendy superfoods do indeed have amazing amounts of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce risks of certain diseases, we cannot overlook all the other healing foods available to us that offer some of the same healing properties. Here is a quick compare-contrast of some popular superfoods and more common and practical foods.

Coconut Oil vs Avocados – Coconut oil is labeled as a superfood because of the high amounts of medium chain fatty acids, which convert into energy more easily and are less likely to form artery-clogging LDL cholesterol. Avocados also contain a high amount of monounsaturated fats, they also contain folate, vitamin E, and antioxidants that help protect your body from diseases.

Goji Berries vs Blueberries – Both goji and blueberries derive health benefits from the high amounts of antioxidants they contain. Goji berries contain about 2-4 times the amount of antioxidants of blueberries, however blueberries also contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and have digestive aiding nutrients that help heal your gut.

Maca vs Brazil Nuts – The root vegetable maca is loaded with nutrients and is known for its hormone balancing effects. Maca regulates stress levels, gives a boost in energy/mental clarity, and increases sex hormone production. Not many foods can improve sexual performance, protect against cancer, and boost metabolism, but Brazil nuts can. Brazil nuts contain the powerhouse selenium, which is an antioxidant that plays many roles in the body. The selenium in Brazil nuts balances hormone levels, boosts testosterone, and also delivers a healthy dose of omega-3’s, alpha-linolenic acid, and manganese.

Spirulina vs Spinach – Spirulina has one of the most well-balanced nutritional profiles, and contains high amounts of protein, fiber, and reduces the risk of many different diseases. Spinach is an excellent source of nutrients including folate, zinc, calcium, iron, vitamin C, fiber, protein and magnesium. Spinach can also help reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, and contains high levels of carotenoids that profoundly reduce inflammation.

Chia Seeds vs Oats – Both chia seeds and oats are high in fiber, rich in calcium, and provide a great source of protein. Chia seeds get the title superfood because of the omega 3’s the seeds contain, which reduce inflammation and aid heart health. Oats contain high amounts of magnesium, prevent hypertension, and regulate your hormones to keep you full and satisfied longer. Oats also contain a unique fiber called beta-gluten, which is an anti-fungal and helps eliminate harmful bacteria.

It’s a common misconception to expect that foods under the “superfoods” umbrella alone will significantly improve our well-being and overall physical health. The truth is, so many foods that you see every day at your local grocery store contain close to the same amount of nutrients. There are wide varieties of whole foods that are considered super, available year-round, that are all around us. Variety in our diet is important not only to absorb broad amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, but to prevent one from eating too much (or too little) of a particular nutrient. TestSharing will be conducting tests of the chemical residues on some of these hyped superfoods soon. Stay tuned.