A worrying trend in the media lately has been a backlash against healthy eating and particular against the use of superfoods. This has gone even so far as to condemn the word superfood as a lie. When you look further into some of the language used against superfoods you’d be forgiven for thinking that superfoods were some form of poison that the public needed protecting from and not plain and simple fruits and vegetables.
The research into some of these compounds (phytonutrients) within certain fruit and vegetables is not only credible but also clearly demonstrates the importance of consuming phytonutrients from plant sources in our diets. As one of these articles even pointed out “nutrition is fabulously complex” meaning that it is hard to link one exact phytonutrient to one exact benefit. Far from this statement being “so unappealing” as they suggested, this is something that most nutritionist would see as encouraging as often the recommendation is to consume a rainbow diet – multiple fruits and vegetable of all the different colours of the rainbow – to provide a beautifully harmonious approach to consuming a variety of different plant foods.
If you look past some of the damning headlines on superfoods from these articles then you can start to see some common areas of concern that are actually rather sensible and in fact most nutritionists would agree with them!
1. No one food can make up for a poor diet
Recent articles have expressed concerns that people may herald any one superfood as a miracle cure and therefore feel like they can live as unhealthily as they like and erase any harm by consuming superfoods. This certainly isn’t what is intended in the research or passed on by nutritionist. If people have a particular complaint or problem then they can include one of the foods that has research in that area into their diet to enhance a healthy eating plan but it should not be to replace healthy lifestyle habits or make up for unhealthy habits. This certainly doesn’t mean that superfoods are bad, just that some people are at risk of using them in an unhealthy fashion. If you are someone who has been adding Kale into your diet, there’s no need after reading these such articles to bin it. Although it might not make up for the 4 cheese deep dish pizza you ate for lunch, it’s still a great source of nutrition to be including it in your diet!
2. Overeating any one food is not advisable
Just because a food is super doesn’t mean that you should only eat that one food. Kale is a good example of a recent superfood discovery but until fairly recently it was just plain old humble kale, a good choice for one of your 5 a day. But man cannot live on Kale alone. It is good to broaden your intake to create a super diet rather than just sticking to one particular super food as you never know which “plain” fruit and vegetables will be elevated to superfood status next as new research is published all the time. All fruit and vegetable can bring something to the table in terms of benefit whether it’s an antioxidant phytochemical or just a simple boost of fibre so keep variety in your diet, and this is something that Nutritionists have been advising for decades! The same media that demonise superfoods, are the same ones who were crowing about the benefits of them months before. This makes ‘a healthy diet’ seem unobtainable as there’s constant confusion between a food being great or terrible.
3. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it doesn’t count toward your calories!
Any healthy eating programme should consider the overall calorie intake as well as the context of every meal and the benefits of the foods within those meals. For example, mashed avocado on toast will make a healthy breakfast but you do still need to make sure that you aren’t overdoing the avocado all day long especially if you are on a weight loss plan. Avocados are crammed full of healthy fats which does make them calorific, as are nuts and seeds. It is better to make your calories count by packing them with good nutrition than to consume empty calories from sugars and unhealthy fats every time but just remember that you still need to keep to a sensible portion size.
4. All fruit and vegetables can contribute to super diets
Phytonutrients with healthy properties are found in particularly high quantities in particular foods – superfoods. This doesn’t mean that those compounds aren’t found in other foods too so if the availability or affordability of certain superfoods is limiting then try choosing other fruit and vegetables instead to create a super diet. Making a healthy eating plan that is achievable is the quickest way to achieve good health. Superfoods, when available, can be a delicious addition to a healthy eating plan.
5. Processed foods are still processed foods
Some superfoods are taken and added to processed foods in an attempt to make those foods seem healthier. This is a bit of a sneaky trick by some manufacturers. Watch out for sugar content of juices that contain superfoods and try to aim for products that have less processing. Every time the superfood is processed it loses a little of its super qualities. The best healthy eating plans usually entail making real food, from scratch with real ingredients so you can see exactly what you are eating.