It seems these days almost every other food we hear about has some magic property that turns it into a “superfood.” The term, which did not exist 10 years ago, was coined by Steven G. Pratt, MD in his book SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life. Dr. Pratt listed 14 foods that “actually stop the incremental deteriorations that lead to common ailments and diseases”:
- Beans – reduce obesity
- Blueberries – lower risk for cardiovascular disease
- Broccoli – lowers the incidence of cataracts and fights birth defects
- Oats – reduce the risk of type II diabetes
- Oranges – prevent strokes
- Pumpkin – lowers the risk of various cancers
- Wild salmon – lowers the risk of heart disease
- Soy – lowers cholesterol
- Spinach – decreases the chance of cardiovascular disease and age-related macular degeneration
- Tea – helps prevent osteoporosis
- Tomatoes – raise the skin’s sun protection factor
- Turkey – helps build a strong immune system
- Walnuts – reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
- Yogurt-promotes strong bones and a healthy heart
SuperFoods RX was an instant bestseller and gave birth to an entire industry of buzzwords (notably “super______” and antioxidants). The Los Angeles Times ran an interesting story last week about a subset of superfoods – the SUPER FRUIT – and how clever marketing has got us buying exotic fruits such as goji berries, pomegranates, mangosteens, sea buckthorn, and jujube fruit, to name a few. All in the name of health.
Thousands of studies have been conducted on some of the so called superfruits over the past decade. The antioxidant properties of each type may vary greatly as there are an almost endless number of chemicals present in various combinations in each type of fruit. Even within the blueberry family, there can be a fourfold difference in polyphenol content between the standard blueberry and 2 South American varietals (Cavendishia grandifolia and Anthopterus wardii) that are now being called “extreme superfruits.”
While scientists don’t deny the health benefits of superfruits, it’s not exactly clear that plain old everyday fruits are much less healthy for you:
the little-nobody fruits are often less likely than the high-end crowd to get research attention — and dollars.
“We can’t say anything about fruits we haven’t studied,” [Tufts University Researcher Barbara] Hale says. “Who knows? Maybe the peach is the best thing out there. We don’t know, because we haven’t studied the peach.” Read more…
Conclusion: all fruits (and vegetables) are good for you. Even if they have not been dubbed Supa-Dupa. So eat more of them all, don’t hold out for the rock stars…
What are your favorite super foods and fruits? Do you think you’re eating more in recent years as a result of marketing messages?