Mountaintop Medicine: Nutrition Notes — The Truth Behind Superfoods

Leah Gardner, EPH Registered Dietitian

This week on Nutrition Notes I want to discuss superfoods. What are they and do they really live up to the hype?

The term “superfood” has become a popular buzzword in the language of food and health. Although there is no technical definition of the word and scientific evidence for the health effects of these foods, while often positive, it does not necessarily apply to real diets. Superfoods are believed to be nutrient-dense foods that provide various health benefits. These foods are generally considered to be foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some examples of superfoods include berries, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, salmon, green tea, and turmeric. Superfoods have been known to help boost our immune system, support heart health, improve digestion, and even enhance brain function.

Keeping this in mind, it is important to note that while superfoods may provide some health benefits they should not be relied upon as a substitute for a balanced diet. Eating a variety of nutritious foods, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, is the best way to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs to function properly. All nutritious foods can be treated equally to obtain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats that our bodies need.

You may come across a plethora of greens powders and other various supplements claiming the title of “superfood-rich” or “superfood that.” These supplements often contain propriety blends of certain foods and even synthetic ingredients that are more than likely not rich in superfoods at all. In this case the term “superfood” is being used as a marketing claim to increase sales. Do not be fooled, it is best to consume whole nutritious foods rather than supplements none the less.

Be sure to give your body a nutritional supercharge by including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet.

A quick reminder- I offer outpatient nutrition counseling and education services at Estes Park Health. If you are interested, contact your healthcare provider for a referral. If you have any questions or if there are any nutrition-related topics that you would like me to discuss here on Nutrition Notes, please reach out at LGardner@EPH.org.