If there’s one thing that scientists, doctors and nutritionists have agreed on over the years, it’s that healthy eating has huge benefits for your body. That said, some so-called superfoods aren’t as life-changing as TV talk shows make them sound. Here are three overhyped "miracle" foods.
If you walk into any nutrition store or organic supermarket, chances are that you will see kale something-or-other everywhere. Kale chips, cold pressed kale juice ... the list goes on and on.
On paper, kale sounds amazing. It has 200% of your daily vitamin A, 680% of your vitamin K, 130% of your vitamin C and smaller amounts of a bunch of other vitamins and minerals. Kale is nutritious.
The thing is, so are many other leafy greens that you probably enjoy, such as Swiss chard, spinach and mustard greens. So, you’re not missing out if you prefer broccoli to kale, or feel like a fresh salad with romaine lettuce instead of forcing yourself to eat kale chips again.
2. Acai Berries
Like kale, acai berries have taken the health food world by storm. Whether you live in San Francisco or Miami, you can find entire restaurant chains dedicated to the famous acai bowl. You can get your acai fix for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Again, I’m not knocking the health benefits of fresh fruit. Acai is rich in anthocyanins, antioxidants that help protect your cells against free radicals. Potentially, this may help lower your risk of diabetes, cancer or heart disease. Where’s the problem?
First, no studies actually prove that if you eat acai, you won’t get cancer or diabetes. Maybe reducing your risk isn’t the same thing as actually preventing a disease. Second, berries grown in the United States have roughly the same amount of antioxidants. So, unless you live in South America, you can save money by just choosing strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or other local seasonal berries!
3. Activated Charcoal
I’ll admit that the first time I saw an activated charcoal smoothie, I was intrigued. It looked so mysterious and weird. The smoky taste actually wasn’t bad, but was I getting any real health benefits? Nope.
Some people claim that activated charcoal can absorb harmful substances and improve gut health. But studies don’t actually show any improvements. In fact, unless you’re in the emergency room because someone just poisoned you, you don’t need help with detox. Your body does a great job of detoxifying itself thanks to your liver and kidneys.
What's ironic is that activated charcoal can absorb vitamins. So what this detox really does is rob your body of valuable nutrients. In other words, my dark smoothie supposedly packed with antioxidants would’ve been healthier if I had just ordered the juice and skipped the charcoal.
The Truth About Superfoods
Eating more fruit, veggies and nuts is a great idea. And kale, acai, spirulina, seaweed, chia seeds and quinoa do contain good nutrients in a low-calorie, filling package. But they're not a magical secret for weight loss or perfect health.
You can get similar benefits from tasty natural foods that are less expensive. For example, salmon provides omega-3s for heart health. But what if you can't afford salmon? Sardines or herring can be just as amazing.
You don't need acai or kale if you prepare healthy meals at home. A varied diet with different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, probiotics, positive fats and lean proteins gives you everything your body needs to stay healthy.