It seems like almost every week a new superfood emerges, claiming to totally transform your health (and even your life) from the inside out. From maca to açaí, these trendy superstars definitely seem like they're really good for you, not to mention they're bougie AF and perfect for a quality 'Gram. But in reality, are superfoods worth it? Or are they just aesthetically pleasing, overpriced foods you can walk right by without a second thought when you see them in the grocery store?
First of all, before I get into whether or not these foods are worth your hard-earned money, what actually defines a superfood? According to Dr. Mike Roussell, co-founder of Neuro Coffee, a typical superfood's main claim to fame is its incredible concentration of antioxidants. However, he adds, many of these health powerhouses also boast a number of other benefits: For instance, according to Healthline, "superfoods" like salmon, raw nuts, berries, and quinoa are packed with tons of nutrients and vitamins your body needs to function at its best.
But the most important thing to remember when it comes to superfoods, says Roussell, is to a) stay away from powdered versions of these popular foods, and b) to only use them to supplement your diet. In other words, you shouldn't only be eating superfoods all day every day. And as for the powdered stuff, Dr. Roussell says that while blueberries and green tea are definitely considered to be superfoods because of their brain- and metabolism-boosting properties, throwing blueberry powder into your smoothie, for example, won't be quite the same. "The green or red powder that contains a grab-bag of fruits and vegetables claiming nondescript health benefits is not going to be beneficial to you," he tells Elite Daily over email, so stick with the real stuff you see in the produce aisle.
Now, as for why these superfoods tend to be so damn expensive, Lyuda Bouzinova, co-founder of Mission Lean, ACE-certified personal trainer, and fitness nutrition specialist, says it's all about where these foods are coming from. "[Superfoods] may seem more exotic, come from far away places, and have ancient histories," she tells Elite Daily over email. Basically, lots of the superfoods you love most, like açaí for example, are grown in other parts of the world, and the popularity of these foods in America makes them exponentially more expensive for the locals who grow them, and as a result, it's pricier for the Americans who want to buy them, too.
Luckily, though, you don't have to shell out hundreds of dollars to eat spirulina powder every day to reap the benefits of superfoods. Instead, Bouzinova suggests, the best thing you can do is eat a variety of unprocessed, natural foods that have lots of healthy vitamins and minerals. "You don’t need a fancy label to tell you that blueberries or rainbow chard are good for you," she says.
However, as great as unprocessed foods, natural foods, and superfoods alike are for your health, Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, a nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition, tells Elite Daily over email that eating these things won't automatically turn you into a superhuman overnight. "Just because you ate a bowl of strawberries doesn't mean you won't catch a cold or experience an instantly lower risk of cancer," she says. With that in mind, she explains, make sure that you focus on eating a variety of fresh foods in your diet. Too much of a good thing can have some pretty nasty side effects, according to Moreno. For example, "eating too many nutrient-dense plant foods can cause gastrointestinal upset, likely because of all the fiber in these foods or the sugars," she tells Elite Daily.
And of course, don't feel pressured to eat a superfood just because it claims to be super. If eating something isn't making you feel your best, try something else, says Bouzinova. "See how you feel after you consume any type of food, and if it’s good and energizing, continue eating it. If it makes you feel sick, stop." It really is as simple as that, guys.
So if eating your weight in hemp seeds and spinach makes you feel like a total boss, eat up, friend. Just know that you don't have to feel pressured to break the bank for the sheer sake of keeping up with the latest health trend.