Super Foods

Mar 21, 2018

Comedian Jim Gaffigan observed, "Kale is a superfood. And its special power is tasting bad."

Have you heard about the superfoods you should be eating?

What is a superfood? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "A nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being." Mirriam-Webster goes further, describing it as "a super nutrient-dense food, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and/or phytonutrients." 

The European Food Information Council weighs in on the term, and the buzz surrounding foods given that moniker, noting there is no official or legal definition of a superfood, so it is important to look carefully at the scientific evidence behind superfood claims.

While superfoods like blueberries and salmon have been scientifically proven to contain health-promoting properties, we have to remember the conditions under which foods are studied in the lab are often very different to the way these foods are normally consumed. While cocoa might contain flavonoids, which are known to help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart, the way cocoa is consumed---in chocolate bars, smoothies, or baked goods---could result in increased fat intake, which could negate the benefits.

Scott Gavura of "Science Based Medicine" warns that new lists of superfoods come out all the time and it can be hard to separate the fact from the fiction...or at least the hyperbole.