What Exactly is a Superfood?

Superfoods; the buzz word that makes some foods seem like a magic little pill of wonder. But what about these foods make them super? Why some foods and not others? What’s the criteria a food has to have to be a superfood? 

Let’s first look at the definition of a superfood: “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”. Is this not the most vague definition? Almost any food can be considered beneficial for health and well-being. There are no requirements or specifications to consider a food super. That being said, the buzz word can be applied to pretty much anything. Check out the most common foods labeled as superfoods:

  • Dark leafy greens
    • Spinach, kale, collard greens, broccolini
  • Seeds
    • Flax, chia, hemp, sesame, poppy
  • Fruits
    • Berries, apples, pomegranates, pineapple, oranges, goji berries
  • Vegetables
    • Celery, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes
  • Beans/legumes
    • Chickpeas, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, lentils 
  • Grains
    • Sprouted, popcorn, quinoa, barley, oats 
  • Healthy fats
    • Tuna, salmon, avocado, olives, nuts
  • Oils
    • Avocado, sesame, grapeseed, olive
  • Powders
    • Spirulina, acai, seaweed, pea protein, nutritional yeast, collagen
  • Sweets
    • Dark chocolate, honey, cocoa powder 

So why are some foods labeled as superfoods and some not? The answer to that is simple: marketing. When you look at this list of foods, it’s pretty much every food you’d consider to be healthy. This list could go on and on and on. You could even consider a beef burger a superfood since it has benefits to our health (high iron and protein). What marketing companies are betting on is that you go for the package that’s labeled as a superfood and also $1-2 more than the competitors. 

The moral of the story here is all foods can be considered super. There is not some magic component in them that makes them better than any other food. Yes, you want more of them on a daily basis and they have wonderful health benefits, but they will not magically make you healthy when you eat them. So next time you grab those apples or kale because they are considered a superfood, make sure you’re buying it for the right reasons. Always eat a variety of foods to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals our bodies require. The more the merrier!

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