Kale–I love it; I always have. Milk and coffee–what would I do without my two double lattes a day? But goji berries, açaí berries, chia and coconut oil–to me, these foods are part of a never ending pitch to the overweight and unhealthy American. They purport to be a panacea for better health and easy weight loss. Superfoods and food fads are touted right and left as the key to good health, beauty, and longer life. But do we, as consumers really buy the hype?
It appears we do. Sales of quinoa and açaí berry have skyrocketed and so has the price–so much so that they are no longer affordable for the people for which these items are diet staples. We are certainly gobbling these foods up, but there is no concrete evidence that these foods lead to better health in the long run. While we have excellent data on the nutritional value of many of these superfoods, they simply have not been part of our diet long enough to create longitudinal assessments of their powers to improve health, lower weight, and extend life. In fact, food companies have been reprimanded by the FDA for making unsubstantiated claims.
The key, I believe, to sorting through all of the mumbo jumbo the food producers and marketers feed us is to keep our eyes on the prize–good health. In Japan, obesity is rare. Japanese dietary guidelines dictate that eating 30-40 different foods per day is key. Variety, it seems is the spice of life. It makes life longer and better. So instead of throwing out last year’s fad food, keep it as an addition to a balanced, diet. Embrace this year’s fad also, but remember that there a many more superfoods that are yet to be discovered.
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