Superfoods- What are they…exactly?

Acai Berries

Acai Berries

As a society we are stepping farther away from the kitchen.  Fewer people are cooking from scratch and households have become increasingly reliant not just on restaurants and fast food outlets, 1-5 American meals are consumed in the car, but on HMR’s (home meal replacements) the creation of which was specifically to compete for the dining out dollar. The scariest by-product of these trends is that the less people actually know how to cook the more control of what they put into their bodies is handed over to the makers of industrial food whose primary interest is profit and not necessarily maximizing nutritional content for the consumer. This coupled with the out of sight out of mind mentality that many Americans have regarding the actual sources of their food, i.e. farms of any kind, has necessitated the development of marketing campaigns, think acai, to push fresh wholesome foods back into our food dialogue. The success of the campaigns of course still revolves around the dollar. Acai berries seemed to be in everything for a while, juices, diet pills and granola to name a few, and the products were not cheap.  There is no denying that an acai berry in it’s natural berry state is good for you.  However, I do wonder how good that berry can still possibly be dried, ground up and put in a pill form. Acai has been and continues to be touted on many websites as the superfood of superfoods. So, what is a superfood exactly? A superfood is a food that provides multiple disease fighting nutrients without excess calories. Says WebMD.  A more refined definition:  superfoods are a special category of foods found in nature. By definition they are calorie sparse and nutrient dense meaning they pack a lot of punch for their weight as far as goodness goes.  Web MD also provided this partial list of what some actual superfoods are: low-fat or fat-free yogurt, eggs, nuts, kiwi, Quinoa, beans, salmon, broccoli, sweet potatoes, berries.

Oprah’s website provided this list: avocados, acai, beets, sweet potatoes, cabbage, blueberries, spinach, leeks, whole grains, turmeric, spelt, oregano, cinnamon, black pepper, miso, yogurt, sardines, salmon, sesame seeds, walnuts, green tea, dark chocolate, flaxseed, figs, seaweed. Other lists included; rocket, dandelion greens, kale, watercress, parsley, endive, chicory, broccoli sprouts, mustard sprouts, spirulina, barley grass, wheat grass, bee pollen. Gogi berries, coconuts, coconut oil, pomegranates, spinach, chard, asparagus, green beans, and bok choy made several lists as well.

Not unexpectedly a ‘superfood’ is a whole food that is good for you. We may not have heard of every single food on the list, or eaten all of them, but certainly most of them we recognize and identify as healthy. The phrase, “Eat your vegetables,” comes to mind. The key to rediscovering food is to connect to it on a basic level, which is in this case pleasure leading to satisfaction. Meaning always eat things that are good for you, but eat whole foods that you like. Super or not, I am not going sit down and eat a plate of swiss chard because I don’t like it,  but I can eat asparagus, green beans and bok choy until the cows come home. Because I like the way these things taste, I not only get excited when I see them in the market, but I look forward to cooking them and am glad to know that they not only delicious and good for me, they are super.

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