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There is No Such Thing as a Superfood

Updated on May 4, 2010

What are today's top superfoods?

Whatever media outlet you prefer, be it the evening news, magazines, or the Internet, it seems that every few days there is a new article or story about "superfoods." If you eat these certain arbitrary number of superfoods everyday, miraculous things will happen. You'll have more energy, look younger, feel better, and live longer.

The truth is, there is no such thing as a superfood. No one food, or group of foods, can guarantee your health.

Instead, the goal should be to get a variety of foods in your diet. As long as the foods you are eating are healthful, they will all provide you with many different nutrients and substances that are beneficial to your health. These include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber. Concentrating on one set of "superfoods" will cause you to miss out on the benefits of other foods that you also need in order to be healthy.

What is a healthful food?

Fruits and Vegetables

Include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Did you know you're supposed to get between five and nine servings each day? To ensure you get a good variety of nutrients, try to eat at least one fruit or vegetable from each color group per day.

There are five color groups: red (apples, red peppers), green (peas, broccoli), yellow/white (banana, cauliflower), orange (carrots, sweet potatoes), and blue (eggplant, blueberries).

Whole Grains

Include several whole grains. These include whole wheat/grain breads, pastas, and cereals. If you currently eat white bread, as I did, it may take a little while to get used to whole wheat bread. Just give it some time. Try it for a month before you decide if you like it or not, and taste different brands. Some taste better than others. It is more than likely that you will get used to the taste and after a while, you will prefer the taste of whole wheat over white.

As for pasta, I hardly notice a difference between white and whole wheat pasta. I think that is because pasta is usually served with a sauce that has much more flavor than the pasta itself. If there is a slight difference in taste between wheat and white, you probably won't notice it.

For cereals, avoid those high in sugar - you know, the kind that seem more like candy than cereal. My husband eats those for dessert! Look for those that contain at least three grams of fiber.

There are many other grains that taste scrumptious and are great for you, such as brown rice, quinoa, seitan, and couscous. Try something new!

Beans, Nuts, Legumes, Tofu

These foods are high in protein. Getting ten percent of your daily calories from protein is plenty for most people. It is a myth that we need to consume meat in order to get enough protein or to be healthy. In reality, there are many health risks associated with meat consumption, including heart disease and cancer.

Eat some beans instead. Besides protein, they are also high in fiber, which many Americans get too little of. Fiber helps protect against colon cancer, and keeps you regular, which makes life much more pleasant.

Also, eat some nuts. Nuts contain protein as well as monounsaturated fatty acids (aka. the healthful fats).

Tofu is yummy too. Actually, tofu itself is pretty flavorless, but that's good because then it tastes like whatever flavors you are cooking with. You can even make desserts with it. This is my favorite way to use tofu. I have a chocolate cream pie recipe that calls for three cups of tofu. A yummy dessert, with a healthful serving of soy protein!! And no one knows that it has tofu in it.

So, there really are no superfoods?

After writing this article, I realize that superfoods really do exist. They are all of the above. While certainly not an exhaustive list, if you are eating something mentioned above, you are eating a superfood that is super good for you. You have many options, and eating healthy is fun and exciting. Variety is the key!


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