Close Subscribe

Get the Weekly Recap!!

Get recaps, exclusive offers, stories and discounts. We’ll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time, we promise.

The Truth About Superfoods: Do They Live Up to the Hype?
Health & Beauty

The Truth About Superfoods: Do They Live Up to the Hype?

super-foodsSo we’re in the second week of January and everywhere you turn – news stands, television, the office water-cooler… people are talking about their new year weight loss and health resolutions.

I say hats off to the January joiners but I do want to provide them a word of caution – a lot of what you’re hearing is good old-fashioned marketing. (How do I know? I’m a marketer and a certified athletic personal trainer and it’s my job to pay attention to this stuff.)

One thing you may have noticed in recent years is the hype around superfoods. They promise everything from a faster metabolism, hormonal balance, antioxidants, improved mood and even a longer life. In the wake of the new years diet blitz these foods are more popular than ever.

Is the hefty price tag on these foods worth it? The short answer: sometimes.

Here’s a breakdown of what you’re really getting from some of the power foods out there.  And some advice on how to mix them into your diet should you decide these superfoods are for you.

Goji berries:  These berries  (also called the wolf berry)  have been touted as offering major antioxidants. They originate in Asia – where people are said to have believed that a diet high in goji berries would help them live longer. While there is no conclusive evidence to back up this claim there is research stating that antioxidants can take away the destructive power of free radicals and help reduce the risk of some serious diseases.

How to eat them? I like my goji berries dried ( I often purchase the Navita brand) and sprinkled on cereal or yogurt.

Chia seeds: Ch-ch-chia… don’t be scared – these seeds are practically microscopic and don’t turn into a fuzzy green lawn-like animal. Here’s what I like about chia seeds… just two tablespoons provides about 10 grams of fiber ( something most of us don’t get enough of.) Here’s what I think is shady… some brands promote chia seeds as a good source of protein. However, chia seeds typically only provide a mere 2g per serving. Protein grams should be around 8-10 per serving to make a dent at each meal.

How to eat them? Some people swear by chia pudding. I mostly stick to adding the tiny seeds into cereal and yogurt, and sprinkled in nut butter sandwiches.

Flax seeds: Flax is another excellent source of fiber and good dietary fat. Two tablespoons of flax also provides alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and 300 milligrams of a particular type of antioxidant called lignans. Both ALA and lignans are anti-inflammatory, and lignans are known to help lower bad cholesterol.

How to eat them?  Flax is best eaten ground to fully digest nutrients. You can sneak the ground form into baked goods, oatmeal and the like. If this seems like too much work don’t stress – you can also get your fix of good dietary fat from avocados, nuts, nut butters and seeds. And, sesame, sunflower, flax, poppy and pumpkin seeds, along with cashew nuts and peanuts, are rich in lignans.

Cacao: Cacao is a type of tropical tree that produces the world’s chocolate in raw form, before fat, sugar, and other “sweeteners” are added. Cacao makes cocoa and chocolate. I will not lie to you – it does not taste “just like chocolate” and it isn’t my favorite thing. But if a bitter, rich taste is your bag then cacao may be up your ally.

Cacao provides antioxidants, theobromine and phenylethylamine. Theobromine acts as a diuretic – which helps push toxins out of the liver. Though if you don’t drink enough water it could have a dehydrating effect. Phenylethylamine is a super low potency antidepressant that can potentially improve one’s mood for a short period.

How to eat it?  There’s plenty of raw cacao dessert recipes out there. You can also experiment with adding raw cacao nibs to your oatmeal or other breakfast fare. It has a taste similar to coffee which can be appealing to java lovers.

Hemp: Don’t get too excited- hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant. It is not the same as marijuana, as it does not contain the high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient that produces a high. Hemp seeds are sometimes said to aid in weight loss, digestive disorders and clear skin. This is great but there isn’t a ton of concrete evidence and there are certainly other whole foods that can help the aforementioned issues.

How to eat it? Hemp seeds and hemp milk are available at most Whole Foods or natural food stores. The seeds can be substituted for nuts in baking, used in smoothies or sprinkled on salads. Hemp milk is a good alternative to dairy, almond or soy milk if you like the taste. I still tend to prefer almond milk as I find the flavor more subtle.

The bottom line: Many superfoods are a fun change of pace for the taste buds and do provide excellent benefits. Buuuut, whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains provide many similar benefits and we shouldn’t look to one single food or food group to provide us with optimal health. If you have a specific need or area of deficiency a superfood can help but the old, tired advice is still true… a healthy, moderate diet combined with exercise is key to weight loss, mood and longevity. Simply loading up on chia pudding and flax galore won’t do it.

Become a Supporter!

If you love what we do you can support our mission with a one-time or monthly contribution.
array(2) {
  [0]=>
  object(WP_Term)#6973 (10) {
    ["term_id"]=>
    int(869)
    ["name"]=>
    string(7) "healthy"
    ["slug"]=>
    string(7) "healthy"
    ["term_group"]=>
    int(0)
    ["term_taxonomy_id"]=>
    int(873)
    ["taxonomy"]=>
    string(8) "post_tag"
    ["description"]=>
    string(0) ""
    ["parent"]=>
    int(0)
    ["count"]=>
    int(13)
    ["filter"]=>
    string(3) "raw"
  }
  [1]=>
  object(WP_Term)#6974 (10) {
    ["term_id"]=>
    int(529)
    ["name"]=>
    string(20) "new years resolution"
    ["slug"]=>
    string(20) "new-years-resolution"
    ["term_group"]=>
    int(0)
    ["term_taxonomy_id"]=>
    int(532)
    ["taxonomy"]=>
    string(8) "post_tag"
    ["description"]=>
    string(0) ""
    ["parent"]=>
    int(0)
    ["count"]=>
    int(2)
    ["filter"]=>
    string(3) "raw"
  }
}
Beth is a Health and Wellness expert who believes sustainability goes hand-in-hand with self care. She’s the girl whipping up kombucha cocktails at parties, and extolling the benefits of canning vegetables to anyone who will listen. View all posts by Beth Funari

3 thoughts on “The Truth About Superfoods: Do They Live Up to the Hype?

  1. Do you have any tips on foods that help deliver calcium to those following a dairy free diet? Thanks.

  2. Hi Nic G- Yes, there are surprising sources of calcium in many dairy-free foods. Some favorites include spinach, leafy greens, cabbage, firm tofu, fortified soy milk, oranges and fortified orange juice and almonds.
    I practice a 95% cow’s dairy-free lifestyle and I also take a calcium supplement for added insurance. The key with these is to take them at meal time for proper nutrient absorption. Hope this helps!

  3. Pingback: The Truth About Superfoods: Do They Live Up to the Hype? : Living Green Magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Green Philly

Featured
In These
Great Spots: