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Superfood or Super Hype?

Superfood or Super Hype?

By Christopher Coyne

To stave off disease, lose weight and feel better; or to have healthier joints, bones, skin, heart, lungs, hair or teeth you NEED to start eating the following foods--right away: blueberries, acai berries, quinoa, brazil nuts, Greek yogurt, coconut water, buckwheat, kale, sprouts, freekeh, pomegranate seeds, beans, beans and more beans, lentils, salmon, sweet potatoes, broccoli, barley and hot peppers. So get started!

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Really? Seems a little hard to swallow, doesn't it? Joking aside, every food item listed above has been breathlessly hailed in some publication or online source as the latest, greatest ‘superfood'. And each one has been touted as offering one or more of the health benefits we've described. So, is that possible? Could these all truly be super foods? Will eating any or all of them offer us some miraculous new path to good health and long life? As with anything else that is hyped as ‘the next big thing', there is a kernel of truth to the claims-but we should also take them with a grain of salt.

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Let's take a closer look at that list of super foods. We've got several fruits, some whole grains, dark green vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish....what's that starting to sound like to you? A grocery list for a healthy diet?

Regular readers of Healthy Life Magazine know that a healthy diet and regular exercise play major roles in so many of the stories that we cover. Virtually every health condition we discuss with area healthcare professionals is affected by what we eat, and how often we exercise. When it comes to dietary recommendations, we're told most often to eat a healthy diet that includes, you guessed it, more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, leafy greens and fish. The ‘superfood' list is all just the kind of things we should be eating anyway!

Balance is the key. Although blueberries do pack an amazing amount of antioxidants and other helpful nutrients into their compact size, we're not likely to subsist on an all-blueberry diet. The same holds true for all of the other foods on our list, each has its own unique benefits, but we must remember that those benefits are most effective when they're part of a balanced diet.

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Instead of searching for the perfect ‘superfood', why not choose several and build a truly super diet? Eat more fruits and vegetables-between five and nine servings a day---and really mix up the color palette to get the benefits. Enjoy deep blues such as blueberries and eggplant, the reds of apples and peppers, dark green peas and broccoli and the oranges of carrots and sweet potatoes! Get whole grains by switching to wheat bread and pasta, and get less of your protein from meats and more from beans, nuts and legumes.

Perhaps the silver lining to the media's tendency to hype new ‘superfoods?' At least the hype gets us talking about the nutritional benefits of the foods we eat. It starts a conversation about the attributes in certain foods that really are good for us, and that can inform our shopping decisions the next time we're at the grocery store. The more we know, the more likely we'll be to build filled with super food!