January 28, 2014

'Super foods' not magic bullets

Can any food really cut your cold short? Make you thin? Cure a disease? Think more clearly? The short answer, unfortunately, is no.

If you have been modifying your diet monthly to include the latest super foods that television doctors or health magazines have promised will cure what ails you, have you actually felt better?

Don’t get me wrong, I do think the food we eat is important to our health, but I do not think any single or even a few healthy foods added to one’s diet will produce “super” effects. Generally speaking most of the foods I have seen advertised as “super foods” are in fact healthy foods that would be healthy for most people to include in their diet.

My concern in seeing them labeled as super foods is that so many other healthy foods are overlooked and variety is downplayed. Blueberries, kale, salmon, steel cut oats, walnuts, lentils are among these foods often listed as super foods, but the nutrients that won them those titles are found in other foods as well, maybe just not in the same quantities.

Can any one food fix a physical problem? Will orange juice cut short a cold? No, but eating fruits and vegetables regularly may help you to avoid the virus in the first place. The healthier you are the less sick you will get, but anyone can catch a cold and everyone who does catch a cold will just have to wait it out. Just as there is no food to cure a cold, there is no food to melt belly fat, boost your memory or reverse aging.

Notice that most super foods fall into normal healthy food categories: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart healthy proteins, like fish, nuts and beans. Eating a variety of these types of foods will help you to be healthy. Blueberries often show up on super food lists, but recently have cost about $5 per half pint fresh. If blueberries do not fit into your budget, try other berries or other purple and blue hued foods to enjoy some of the same health benefits and antioxidants. Just follow basic healthy eating guidelines.

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