What's so super about superfoods?

Posted by Guckenheimer HQ on 3/02/20
Guckenheimer HQ


We hear a lot about superfoods - kale, flax, quinoa, and many others. But are super FOODS needed to live a super LIFE? What if I don't like kale chips or if we can't pronounce acai yet alone know how to eat it?

I'm Edith Clogg, a dietitian with ISS Guckenheimer, and this years video series, Wellness in 20/20 aims to privide clear vision when it comes to your wellness.


First, let's dig into what makes a superfood so SUPER. There is no defining mark on what makes something a superfood. Foods that are high in nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, and also in other phytonutrients collectively referred to as antioxidants are often classified as superfoods. Fortunately, every fruit, vegetable, herb, and spice have some of these antioxidant properties (wahoo!) but some are especially high in these compounds.

Some fun and telling history: The National Institute of Health developed the ORAC score or the Oxygen Radical Absorbancy Capacity, as a way to measure the total antioxidant capacity of a food to remove harmful free radicals. The scale was discontinued after increasing evidence that these values of individual foods don't have a lot of relevance to health. In short, when looking at the overall healthfulness of a food, more than just antioxidants need to be looked at, such as the type of fat, fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals. Can the ORAC score still be referenced, sure - and kidney beans, walnuts and many others that score high on the ORAC scale are still great to be eating. But it's not THE GUIDE to knowing how to eat.

And that's where no 2-10 foods, or however many Superfoods are on your mind, are THE cure to all of our eating woes. We could eat chia seed pudding every morning for breakfast - but if we also eat hot fudge sundaes and nachos for dinner every night, the chia seeds might not be doing any good. In short: Isolating foods isn't the gold standard for defining diet healthfulness.

First, make sure you're eating a variety of produce colors throughout the day and week. Do an inventory of the produce colors in your refrigerator and on your counter. Do you see red, green, orange, blues and purples? If so, you're in a great place. If not, find a color that is missing and work it into your eating this week.

Next, some popularized superfoods really do have some great healthful properties. So let's dig into some easy ways to incorporate a few of these.

First: Chia! Chia seeds are high in fiber, have Omega 3's and protein and can now be found in many mainstream grocery stores. You can either soak them for a few hours or heat them in a liquid for a tasty breakfast. I put some mashed pears, chia seeds, plant based milk, and add some cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and a dash of honey and top with some crushed walnuts for a tasty breakfast.


Next up: Kale. Massaging kale with some vinegar, salt, and olive oil makes it a little more tender to eat. And who doesn't love playing with your food? Kale is also great served with warm quiona, bulgur, or barley and a flavored protein which makes the whole meal flavorful, satisfying, and high in nutrients. Or just stick with some other dark leafy greens - like spinach which is high in Vitamin C and may taste less bitter. They are both great in cold salads or hot dishes.

Matcha and turmeric get a lot of press - and for great reasons! They both are incredibly bright and colorful with rich earthy flavors. If you like these flavors, a turmeric or matcha latte are satisfying and fun to drink.

A lot of grains and legumes have hit superfood status as well: barley, quinoa, chickpeas, and many others. Stock up your pantry with a variety of grains and legumes nd do some mixing and matching to reap all of the benefits. I've been making a baked chickpea and tomato skillet with eggs and harissa. Tasty, flavorful, and a great way to get those chickpeas in.

In the end, remember that the bulk of our overall health won't be made by 1 or 2 eating decisions. 1 Matcha latte in our life likely won't be the thing to make us live until we're 100. But lots of small helpful eating decisions will.

Also remember that no produce item is void of nutrients - iceberg lettuce does have nutrients, and if it's the only way you can eat a salad, go for it. Even better if you throw in some colored peppers. Think about what you can eat over the long haul - and if some of these are super nutrient dense foods, then all the better.

Thanks for joining for some discussion on Superfoods- check out our other videos on Vimeo and follow us on Instagram @nutrition_at_guckenheimer

Topics: Nutrition (Food), Health & Human Performance (Holistic), Health and Human Performance, Nutrition, Nutrition Strategy, Registered Dietitian, health hacks

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