Are superfoods really that good for me? Excellent question. Here’s the short answer: they’re even better than you think they are.
Imagine if there was something you could eat that would solve a whole lot of your health issues. Some type of food that will keep you healthy.
Is that still a thing? Does food still do that?
Yes, it is.
This is the magic of superfoods. And the best part? There are a whole lot more of them than you’ve been told.
Because we only hear about one or two foods dubbed super at any given time, it’s logical to assume that there are only a few out there.
But the truth is MOST plant foods are superfoods. And they certainly don’t have to be the trending plant of the month to be special. Here are the two simple truths about superfoods.
If you’re eating something that grew out of the ground, was picked off a tree or was pulled off a vine, the chances of that food being absolutely PACKED with nutrients is incredibly high.
There’s a reason why superfoods are always plants. The same way animals and people have an immune system, so do plants. Their immune system is made up of phytochemicals. And having access to it, is vital to our health.
Phytochemicals is an umbrella term for the antioxidants, cancer protection, antibacterial, and brain boosting specialties you’ve heard so much about. When we eat plants, we ingest their phytochemicals and take on all the immune support the plant made for itself.
No food is exactly the same. Kale, blueberries and pineapple have all been called superfoods, but each for different reasons. Each one has a different set of phytochemicals, along with vitamins and minerals, all in different proportions.
No one food has everything we need to stay healthy. No one food can keep us healthy all on its own. The truth is ALL plants foods are superfoods, and they all deserve a place at the table.
The bottom line is diversity in your diet is THE key to staying healthy. The more access you have to the full range of nutrients in different plants, the better equipped your body will be to operate at full capacity.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is eating the same food all the time.
It’s great to have your favorites, we all do. But without the OTHER stuff, you’re never going to get enough of ALL the things you need to be healthy ALL the time.
Missing this diversity is a primary reason why so many people end up with nutrient deficiencies.
If you ONLY eat cauliflower, you’ll never get the same set of nutrients an eggplant has. If you ONLY eat salad with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, you’re going to be missing out on a huge range of vitamins, minerals and (of course) phytonutrients that you’d get from spinach. Eat some brussel sprouts and you’re going to get a different concentration of nutrients than if you eat butternut squash.
There is no better. ALL plants are superfoods.
The word superfood has been tossed around a lot in the last few years.
Food companies use it as a labeling badge of honor, without caring what’s really in their product. Mushrooms are the new superfood? Suddenly everything has got some refined mushroom extract with minimal nutritional value and maximum brand appeal.
As a savvy shopper, you aren’t fooled by this type of nutritional jiu jitsu. Just because there are pictures on the packaging doesn’t mean your green-colored smoothie is packed with cold-fighting flavonoids of 12 fruits and vegetables.
A quick look at the ingredients label is all you need to do. If you see anything that is NOT a recognizable fruit or vegetable, put it back.
This doesn’t mean you’re taking something unhealthy. If it’s full of added vitamins and minerals, then your green juice is really acting as a multivitamin. Not a superfood replacement.
It’s okay if that’s what you want. But you’re probably better off spending your money on a high-quality multivitamin to make sure you’re getting exactly what you’re looking for.
What you want above all else are whole foods. Fruits and vegetables in the form nature created them. ALWAYS, as in 100% of the time.
But we live in the real world. Some days it’s hard to eat 8-10 servings of a well-balanced smattering of fruits and vegetables.
This is real life, it happens. And real life isn’t (usually) catered by a private chef who packs your superfood-filled lunch every day.
On those days when 100% is simply impossible, find something that will get you as close to those whole fruits and vegetables as humanly possible. There are a lot of great options out there. The good ones will help you bridge the gap between your best intentions and a truly well-balanced diet.
They’re extremely portable, don’t need to be refrigerated (in case you forget it’s at the bottom of your bag), and will give you half a day’s worth of fruit and vegetables. There’s nothing but a bit of filtered water and a whole lot of superfoods (fruits and vegetables) jammed into a couple of tasty sips.
Use it to flavor some seltzer or drink it straight. Drink one every day, and you’ll be halfway to perfectly healthy.
Written by Shani Jordan-Goldman, MS RD CDE
As subtle as a dark chocolate bar with 85% cocoa. Shani will make sure you get your diet right. Zero guilt and no intimidation, just 100% good science-backed health guidance designed to always be as unique as you are. Work with Shani directly at www.thingsweeat.com
Abbi Miller is the owner of a holistic nutrition and yoga business. She helps women optimize their life so their health and businesses can flourish. She shares what's in her fridge.