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Superfoods: Truly Super or Super Hyped?

by Dr. Jason Barker September 09, 2014

Superfoods: Truly Super or Super Hyped?

Superfoods.  Sounds amazing, right? Well, I hate to knock anything that can help a person have better health, but this phrase gets way too much attention in my opinion. “Super food” is really a marketing term used to describe a food with health benefits.  Don’t get me wrong, many of these foods are very healthy, but the problem comes when the marketing information they often come attached to explains how just this one food is a miracle cure for condition x, y, or z.

Oftentimes in health, diseases and conditions are rarely caused by one thing. In the same vein, there is no one food that contains magical, heretofore undiscovered nutrients with miraculous healing capabilities. True, we’re still identifying and studying exactly how many nutrients found uniquely in plant foods interact with human health. However what gets me is the blatant upsell marketing that comes with these foods, touting them as THE answer to a person’s health problems.

The problem with this (and many, many other marketing ploys) is that it leaves a person thinking that instead of taking control of their many other lifestyle choices, that eating a specific food is the answer to all their health problems.

Again, I don’t want to take anything away from a person who is trying to get healthy. But all to often I’ll have a patient who’s bought into the latest food/supplement craze thinking it’s THE answer.

Recently, there have been a handful of fruits that have been marketed as super foods – typically they're grown in an exotic locale and they’ve been relatively unheard of until their marketing blitz. I can tell you that just because you’ve never heard of a food from a far off land doesn’t make it any more super that what we’ve got available in our grocery stores.

And here’s the catch – you don’t have to spend lots of money on so-called superfoods to get healthy. Yes, you should eat a healthy diet full of plants. But you can find all, or similar, ingredients in the plant foods we’ve got in our own backyard.

When you think of superfoods, think of plants with dark pigments. By far, darkly colored plant foods are the most nutritious foods we can consume, and yes a diet that tends to have many of these foods in it will be healthier than a diet where plant foods are lacking.

What are my superfoods?  I eat a lot of berries (blueberry, raspberry, blackberries), green leafy veggies, avocados, beets, carrots, green tea powder (matcha) and even the humble apple.  Nothing particular sexy about these foods (from a marketing standpoint), but they are as full of beneficial nutrients as any other “superfood” you can think of.  The closest thing to a superfood that I add to my diet is Greens First and Greens First Berry, both of which are concentrated sources of several vegetables and fruits in a tasty powder. (I add them to my smoothies to boost their nutrient density and to drastically improve their flavor).

So, instead of gobbling tons of the latest trendy food, you can stick to the basics at your supermarket and still get all the benefits (even if they aren’t supported by a huge marketing campaign) of any other superfood.

Dr. Jason Barker
Dr. Jason Barker


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