It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a … superfood?

When you read the word superfood, what image pops into your mind? A sweet potato with a cape? Expensive and exotic fruits that are seemingly impossible to find?

Both images could be true, because there is no scientifically accepted definition for a superfood. What is generally accepted as a definition of a superfood is something that is low in calories and fat while being nutritionally dense. They also tend to be loaded with other things that are vital for good health that don’t end up on a nutrition label, like Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants or phytochemicals.

While it might make sense to load up your fridge with some of these superfoods, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you hit the grocery store.

  1. Portion size is still important. It is possible to have too much of a good thing and overdoing it on portion size can reverse the benefits you were hoping to obtain from eating the food.
  2. Superfoods should be eaten along with other fruits, vegetables and whole-grains as a part of a well-balanced diet.
  3. These foods do not reverse the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. If you smoke, do not exercise or skip meals on a regular basis, those habits will mute the effects of any superfood.
  4. The term superfood does not have a medical definition, so it is unlikely your doctor will tell you to run out and eat superfoods. This should make you skeptical of product packaging that claims something is a superfood. A more likely scenario is that your doctor will tell you to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains — and some of those foods happen to be better for you nutritionally than others.

For the next several weeks, we will be taking a look at different superfoods, talking about what properties make them super and giving you suggestions for incorporating them into your meal plans.

What superfoods do you want to know more about?

Photo credit: Wally Hartshorn

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