Super Foods

Blueberries - Your Superfood

If only a handful of berries could grant us super-human strength or a few drops of flaxseed oil could provide us with genius-like intelligence. While these foods can’t necessarily do those things, they are both considered superfoods by nutritionists, scientists, berry farmers, and flax growers. As superfoods, they are extremely healthy and they contain many beneficial compounds. Given their label, or any other foods of their ilk, as a superfood and their promise to deliver greater energy levels, increased intelligence and longer lives, they are gobbled up with a fury and chugged by the bottleful with a vengeance.

While some “superfoods” probably will deliver their promised results, others (such as broccoli) aren’t any better than everyday foods. Don’t get caught up in marketing hype; check out these real superfoods -- and the fakes that just wear the mask.

real superfoods

Berries

Berries pack a real punch and are among the best superfoods around. They’re loaded with antioxidants, which are compounds that protect our bodies against the ravages of life. They also have a good amount of fiber and some believe they can boost brainpower. Watch out, though; bugs love berries too and as a result of some farming practices berries can be loaded with pesticides. Look for organically grown berries (locally grown and in season usually taste the best) to avoid nasty chemicals.

Spinach

So it won’t make your forearms grow to the size of cannons, but calorie for calorie, spinach provides more nutrients than most other foods, which is why we’re naming this alleged superfood one of our favorite superfoods. It’s high in vitamins K, A, C, and B2 and contains tons of manganese, folate, magnesium, and calcium. Scientists have discovered at least 13 different compounds in spinach that could fight cancer and animal studies have shown scientists that the leafy vegetable can help us stay mentally alert long into old age. It seems that Popeye is smarter than he looks.

Yogurt

Want to lose weight, put on muscle and build bones? Eat some yogurt, as studies published in the International Journal of Obesity found that yogurt can do it all. One study showed that guys who ate yogurt as part of a reduced-fat diet lost 61% more fat and 81% more abdominal fat than those who didn’t, and they also maintained more muscle mass. How? It’s unclear, but scientists think it’s the high levels of calcium, which also help build bones. Whatever you do, eat yogurt a few times a day as part of your diet and reap the benefits.

Superfoods have evil impostors

Fake Superfoods

Soy

The FDA recently gave soy food factories permission to throw heart-healthy labels on some of their products. As a result, you might reach for a sack of soy snacks to thwart heart disease instead of tearing into a bag of trans-fat rich potato chips. Soy may be more heart healthy, but there’s a sinister side to legume. Unfermented soy contains high levels of phytoestrogens, a version of estrogen, and some studies have shown that guys who eat a lot of soy experience deflated libidos. That’s not all: Unfermented soy contains compounds that block trypsin, an important enzyme that helps you digest protein. Soy also has phytic acid, which can block the uptake of essential minerals. Soy may be spun as a superfood, but a lot of research puts it neck in neck with Saran Wrap for nutritional content. Fermented soy products, like miso and soy sauce, however, are probably OK in limited quantities.

Wheatgrass juice

The kid at the smoothie shop might have told you that one shot of wheatgrass juice has as many nutrients as a kilo of veggies. Don’t believe him. Sure, wheatgrass juice has lots of nutrients, but only as much as an equivalent amount of broccoli. So, if you’re looking to add a few ounces’ worth of veggie power to your daily diet, go for it. Just don’t count that shot of wheatgrass juice as your veggie intake for the day.

Superfood Justice League

Superfoods are high in vitamins and minerals, are great sources of protein and fiber and could, if eaten regularly, make you healthier. They won’t, unfortunately, counteract the effects of a can of Pringles or a Big Mac, and they won’t cure cancer. Superfoods need to be part of a balanced diet that’s low in fat, high in fiber and contains a variety of fruits and vegetables.

By: Dustin Driver

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