You can’t live on superfoods alone. Healthy food that is high on nutrition and low on hype does exist but is being overlooked. This post from Chicago Tribune highlights why it’s good to look beyond the obvious superfoods.
So-called “superfoods” have been garnering so much attention the last few years, you’ve got to wonder what people did before pomegranates, kale and acai berries landed on their plates. Maybe it’s time to remember there are other fruits, vegetables and foodstuffs out there just as healthy and full of good-for-you goodness as those superfoods but without the hype.
Consider them, if you will, the Clark Kents of the produce section.
“A lot of great superfoods get overlooked, and they’re right in front of us,” said Jonny Bowden, a Los Angeles-based nutritionist, author and expert on weight loss and health. It’s not that these foods are “bad or out of fashion,” he added, but “whatever is really noisy gets attention.”
“We really need to roll back on the hype and the marketing,” added Bowden, who has compiled a list of nine “superfoods” he believes are being overlooked in the diet. His list includes: quinoa, yogurt, garbanzo beans, fermented vegetables, raspberries, spinach, Brazil nuts, cabbage and Malaysian palm oil (use sustainably sourced oil, he says).
Dr. Donald Hensrud, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in Rochester, Minn., said people should try to focus on “patterns of eating” rather than specific foods themselves. To focus on the blueberry — as one of his patients did, going so far as to ask how many to eat each day — means excluding the benefits of other berries out there.
Variety means obtaining different nutrients, as each food has its own nutritional profile, Hensrud says. So, while he found Bowden’s list “pretty good,” he thinks one should not stop at spinach but eat all leafy greens (he’s partial to peppery arugula); go with mixed nuts and not just Brazil nuts; and eat all kinds of berries.
Joan Salge Blake, a clinical associate professor at Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, echoed Hensrud’s approach. She suggests focusing not on “superfoods” but on a “super diet” that involves all the food groups and aims for at least 4 1/2 cups of vegetables and fruits a day, as called for in the U.S. Government’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Blake, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said no “antique grain or exotic berry” is going to fight cancer or heart disease or diabetes on its own. But consumers should enjoy a range of seasonal foods picked at peak freshness and often the lowest prices.
“The likelihood is it will taste fabulous,” she added. “A tomato in August in Massachusetts is divine. A tomato in January in Massachusetts, there’s not so much taste.”
Hensrud said consumers are “looking for the next big thing” in nutrition and need to assess all the claims with the proverbial grain of salt.
“Nutrition is an area where there is a lot of controversy. Everybody eats, and everybody has biases,” said Hensrud, whose own list of foods to eat includes salmon, olive oil, sweet potatoes, edamame and coffee. “Trying to find credible evidence is not easy to find.”
“Don’t assume because it’s exotic and highly priced, it’s more nutritious than other produce in the produce aisle,” Blake warned. “Let’s not make these trendy foods nutritionally superior to things you’ve grown up with.”