Are Superfoods Really That Super?
Snake Oil Superfoods: Clearing Up the Confusion
Written by: Kat Gal
Are superfoods really that super?
Your question is valid. Back in your grandma’s days, there was food. Nothing else. Just good, old, real, natural food.
But things got a bit complicated.
Nowadays we have junk food: processed foods filled processed sugar, saturated fat, artificial ingredients and additives. Junk food is non-food food with little to no nutritional value, but lots of calories, sugar and fats that can lead to weight gain and disease.
Then we have whole foods, which USED to be called food. Natural, real, whole foods, found in your produce section mostly, NOT in boxes. Whole foods are good for you, especially if you eat organic.
Then we have superfoods. Superfoods are highly nutrient-rich foods that are good for your health and well-being. But nowadays, EVERYTHING seems to be a superfood. Goji berries. Cacao. Spirulina. Kale. Blueberries. Even apples. But are they really THAT special? Aren’t they just regular old real foods?
Do superfoods really have superpowers?
In a way, yes, all superfoods are natural foods and are high in nutrients. Some are more special than others though. Some have been studied extensively. Some haven’t been examined by researchers much if at all. Some are proven by pages of scientific evidence, others are mostly supported by empirical evidence, personal stories, cultural practices and maybe one or two small studies.
A team at Information is Beautiful has examined and interactively visualized scientific evidence for superfoods to look for proof of superb-ness. The results are mixed.
They have found that while some foods, such as honey, garlic and probiotics demonstrate superior effects on some medical conditions or health in general, others, including lychees and peppers need further studying and scientific evidence.
They’ve found that prunes do keep you regular just like your grandma said. Oats can lower your cholesterol too just like blog articles suggest. Almonds are proven to be good for your cholesterol and general health. The debate is out on fish oil: it seems to be good for cancer patients and can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, but there is less evidence of its cognitive benefits.
Dark chocolate seems to be beneficial for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but more controlled studies are recommended. Goji berries are high in antioxidants that may benefit your eye health, but more clinical trials are needed. Greens are good for you, cabbage seems to be beneficial for bladder cancer. But it seems cranberry juice doesn’t actually prevent UTIs and there isn’t enough evidence about whether it can treat effectively or not. There is also no evidence that oysters can benefit your sex drive, though they are an abundant source of zinc.
What does this mean? Can superfoods hurt you? Of course not.
Superfoods are highly nutritious foods that your body can benefit from, but we are lacking evidence for the level of their power. The main issue is that while medicines and supplements are a regular part of scientific studies, superfoods are not. Superfoods are also difficult to test in controlled conditions using blinded participants and ruling out placebo effects. Controlled studies are scarce, though much needed.
More research is needed and with the growing popularity of superfoods and healthy diets, we can hopefully expect more studies.
Superfoods can’t outdo an otherwise unhealthy diet and lifestyle either. Eat a large variety of organic whole foods, including greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and legumes. Exercise regularly. Sleep plenty. Drink lots of water. Think positively. Lower your stress levels.
Add superfoods as a bonus! The jury on superfoods is your body anyways.
Try a big glass of Organifi Green Juice with spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass, turmeric and other delicious superfoods. Tell us how you feel after a few weeks of drinking it. Be our judge and share your results!
And remember, we’re in this together.
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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