Mythbusters: Superfood Edition

Superfoods aren’t just another food trend—they’re foods that contain higher-than-average levels of vitamins and minerals for our health. Whether fruit, vegetable, or meat, superfoods provide natural nutrients our bodies need to not only survive, but thrive each day.

As acac West Chester Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Margaret Moses says, “Superfoods are those foods that go beyond basic nutritional structure to provide phytochemicals, antioxidants, and more to fight free radicals in your body.”

Myth 1: If I eat the right food I will receive surefire benefits.

Google “superfoods” and you’ll find list after list of recommended foods to battle weight loss, risk of disease, aging, etc. And while yes, it is true that these foods help monitor certain physical conditions, the foods themselves do not serve as cure-alls and should not be treated as such. It is the nutrients they provide that aid us to health—not the individual avocado or blueberry!

Instead of viewing superfoods as a “quick fix”, educate yourself on the properties they contain that will guide you on your journey. For instance:

– Cruciferous vegetables (think broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale) contain a phytochemical called sulforaphane that has been proven to detoxify carcinogens and lower one’s risk of cancer

– Wild salmon and tuna are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids proven to lower blood pressure

– Blueberries are chalked full of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant that helps maintain a healthy heart

One more observation here: contrary to popular belief, there is no superfood formula that will ensure weight loss. Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, drink ½ of your body weight in ounces of water each day, and eat whole foods. Margaret says, “The closer you eat to nature, the less you crave processed foods.”

Myth 2: Superfoods work better together.

As with Myth 1, the above statement is true to an extent but false without any context. The phenomenon we’re exploring here is called food synergy. When our bodies ingest multiple foods and beverages at the same time, their nutritional components may interact with each other either positively or negatively.

Iron, for example, is absorbed more quickly with Vitamin C. Margaret recommends pairing eggs with oranges or spinach with strawberries to experience amplified benefits. Conversely, coffee—and caffeinated beverages in general—slows down iron absorption and can be detrimental to one’s iron levels, so it is best to avoid caffeine when eating foods with higher amounts of iron.

Myth 3: I need to spend a fortune to eat healthy.

The best part about superfoods is that they are found in nature, not on the shelf of an expensive health food store or prescription note. Take a stroll through the produce aisle and you’ll find an alphabet of vitamins (A – sweet potatoes, C – broccoli and kiwi, E – avocado, K – green leafy vegetables) and antioxidants for far less than the price of the latest supplement or specialty ingredient.

Superfoods are not just another food trend, and there is an abundance of information online–but you can’t believe everything you read on the internet! Ask a registered dietitian at any acac location for help when adjusting your dietary habits.