Friday, October 24, 2008


By: Brooke Schantz, Dietetic Intern and M.S. Candidate

What are these superfoods that everyone is talking about? The term superfood is starting to be used more and more in the popular press, broadcast media, internet, and marketing campaigns. Currently, there is not a scientific definition for superfoods. Superfoods are said to contain beneficial components that produce significant health benefits when consumed. Some of these so-called superfoods include foods found within the United States like: blueberries, beans, oats, soy, broccoli, yogurt, tea, walnuts, spinach, etc… However, other superfoods becoming more popular include: quinoa a whole grain from Brazil, pomegranates which can be found in California but are native to Iran, Himalayas, and India, goji berries from subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet, and acai a berry from Brazil.

Presently, there is not a regulated labeling system for superfoods and consumers don't have anyway of knowing if the foods they are buying actually contain high amounts of nutrients or if those nutrients are bioavailable or properly absorbed during digestion. The position of the American Dietetic Association states that, "the total diet or overall pattern of food eaten is the most important focus of a healthful eating style." One or two single foods should not be the main focus of anyone's diet in order to promote overall health, instead try eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to support your overall health.

Therefore, these exotic superfoods are definitely not worth their carbon footprint. Air freighting is one method for transporting superfoods overseas. Air freighting is not only expensive, but due to the abundance of carbon dioxide emitted during transportation it is also highly damaging to our environment. The bottom line is that you don't need to buy expensive non-eco friendly superfoods to consume a healthy diet. Just remember to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; focus on your overall diet not just one or two foods; and buy locally grown fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

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