The Good, Bad, and the Truth About Superfoods

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The Good, Bad, and the Truth About Superfoods
July 21, 2022
RxLocal Team

Are Superfoods All That They’re Cracked Up to Be?

Everyone loves a good food trend. Whether it’d be a carnivore diet, juice cleanses, or keto diet plans, there always seems to be something that captures our dietary minds.

But there’s one trend that’s more than stood the test of time: superfoods.

Love it or hate it, superfoods never have never gone out of style and aren’t going anywhere.

Though these foods do provide some great nutritional benefits, there’s more to them than there may seem. Learn how you can make superfoods work in your favor.

What Makes a Food “Super”?

Per Merriam Webster, a superfood is “a food (such as salmon broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.”

Superfoods are also described as foods that offers maximum nutritional value for minimal calories.

The origins of superfoods actually date back way before trendy diets were around. The term originated in the early 20th century, when the United Fruit Company launched a marketing campaign focused on the miraculous health benefits of a banana-centric diet. It was seen less as a novelty after studies found that bananas treated celiac diseases and diabetes.

As such, bananas went on to become a staple part of the standard American diet, effectively becoming what is now known as a “superfood.”

That’s not to say the fruit isn’t delicious or nutritious, but the United Fruit Company’s campaign is the first example of the general public getting swept away by a supposed “miracle food.”

The idea that a single piece of food — or food type — can provide otherworldly properties has only heightened with the Internet and social media. Because of how quickly myths and untruths can spread, we need to know the true value of superfoods.

The Not-So Super Side

Superfoods are a complicated concept.

On one hand, many of the foods that are considered “super” are genuinely healthy and provide excellent health benefits — for the most part. On the other, they work best in moderation, not exclusivity.

Another oddity about superfoods is that there are no official criteria as to what makes a type of food, well, super.

The food industry is ripe with false and misleading advertising, so some companies are eager to market their products towards the hottest trend for profit’s sake.

The lack of official criteria of what makes a superfood can lead to speculation and misleading advertising campaigns. Campaigns will go on and on about the amazing things this one food can do for your health and life.

The craze behind superfoods speaks to one of the main barriers preventing many people from starting and sticking with a healthier diet: money.

Superfoods that are packaged and made in supplement or powdered form are usually overpriced and can be inaccessible to some customers.

All in all, the main drawback to superfoods is not the foods themselves but their presentation and how they’re meant to take the place of a regular diet. This especially applies to consuming these foods in blended, powdered, or pill forms.

The Simplest Way is Often The Most Super

Food marketers will promise consumers the world if it means they buy a sack of maca powder. They say a single food will be the solution to your problems.

But sticking with a healthy diet, like a lot of worthwhile habits, is not very romantic and not instantaneous. It is a long-term process that requires discipline and dedication.

It also has an easy formula: avoid the wrong sugars, fats, and carbohydrates and not overeat.

In reality, the healthiest foods are the simplest, not the ones filled to the brim with brand labels or hyperbolic claims. They are found in your local grocery section, literally ripe for the picking.

In reality, very few things beat the benefits of a single apple or banana or some carrots. Eating healthy doesn’t need to be a hassle or a financial burden.

Furthermore, superfoods should not take the place of modern medicine or routine checkups with your physician. Fruit and vegetable cleanses indeed have their health benefits but shouldn’t take the place of hospital visits or serious conditions that require medical therapy.

There is no substitute for a doctor’s visit or consultation. Consult your primary care physician or local pharmacist for proper and professional care. Check out our Pharmacy Finder to locate an independent pharmacy close to you.

The Upside to Superfoods

All this being said, superfoods are a centuries-old trend for a good reason. Using these foods wisely and effectively will bring out the amazing health benefits we want from them.

The foods that are correctly considered “super” are jampacked with all sorts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote greater health.

Some Truly Super Foods:

  • Berries - blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries (fight inflammation, prevent/manage diabetes, help prevent Parkinson’s Disease, prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure)

  • Soy - foods made from soybeans such as tofu, soymilk, edamame, soy nuts, and sprouts (lowers blood pressure, decrease risk of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, strokes, and some forms of cancer)

  • Tea - namely green, yellow, black, and oolong teas (helps prevent diabetes, heart diseases, and some types of cancer. Also protects the brain in old age)

  • Seafood - salmon, cod, tuna, and trout (good source of vitamin B12 and omega-3, healthier hair and skin)

Incorporating these foods into your diet will help you feel better, more awake, and generally healthier over time. Watch out for processed fats and sugars — just about anything that is processed, really — and your mind and body will thank you in the long run.

Staying Super

There is, indeed, such a thing as too much of a good thing. Superfoods are no exception. Though they are popular right now, the initial novelty of adopting this sort of diet will wear off fairly quickly.

As mentioned before, patience and discipline are required to enjoy the true benefits of a healthy diet. It’s best to look at superfoods as a way to form a healthy diet instead of solely relying on them.

Supplements aren’t the answer to your dietary needs, nor will they healthily get you to your dream summer body.

It all depends on what’s on your plate.