Dietitian Dish: Superfoods: Are They Really That Super?

March 15, 2018

By Saba Zahid, RD, LDN
Patient Experience Manager, Unidine Corporation

 
In recent years, you may have heard the term “superfoods” used to describe a number of different foods that supposedly have extraordinary health benefits - everything from promoting weight loss to delaying the aging process. Is it possible that these “superfoods” can truly deliver all of these benefits and be the answer to our health concerns?
 
Although the concept is appealing, the reality is that there is no such thing as a “superfood.” In fact, the term is really just a marketing tool with little scientific evidence behind it. If you have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or any other health condition, there is no one food that is going to change your health condition. The truth is that nutrition and the way food impacts our body is intricate, complex, and a continued area of research and discovery.

So then what about goji berries, seaweed, chia seeds, and all of the other so-called “superfoods?” These foods all have their respective health benefits and can be included as part of an overall healthy diet. But don’t forget about foods that you don’t typically think of as “superfoods.” Onions, bananas, and peas all have various vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and bioactive compounds that are beneficial to our health. For instance, onions contain quercetin, a flavonoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help lower risk of cancer and heart disease while lowering blood pressure 1, but you probably won’t see them on many “superfood” lists.

Whether you are looking to enhance your athletic performance or combat cancer, the best place to start is with a healthy, balanced diet. If you want to ensure you are choosing foods to maximize certain health outcomes, then consider working with a registered dietitian.

Shore Medical Center’s Outpatient Nutrition Counseling dietitians are available to help you create a meal plan that incorporates a variety of foods that provide the appropriate nutrients to help you meet your health goals. To schedule an appointment, contact us at 609-653-4600, option 5. To learn more, visit our website at www.shoremedicalcenter.org/nutrition-counseling.

Saba Zahid, a registered dietitian from Unidine Corporation, is the patient experience manager for Shore Medical Center’s food and nutrition services. She oversees the medical center's patient food service program, clinical nutrition programs, and community nutrition initiatives.

Unidine is a dining management company that provides food and nutrition services to Shore Medical Center. Undine is committed to fresh food and scratch cooking for all of the clients it serves in healthcare, senior living, and business settings. To learn more, visit www.unidine.com.

1 Boots, A. W., Haenen, G. R., & Bast, A. (2008). Health effects of quercetin: From antioxidant to nutraceutical. European Journal of Pharmacology, 585(2-3), 325-337. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2008.03.008