Superfood or Superhype?

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Superfood or Superhype?

Sydney Gager, Editor

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Depending on the day, there’s a different superfood and a new food that’s suddenly dangerous. Is it worth paying attention to? Or should we eat what makes us feel good? Do we know what’s best for ourselves? Or should we listen to an ever-changing science?

 

The truth of the matter is that superfoods are a myth. We want to believe that one food can save an otherwise unhealthy diet, but in reality nutrition is much more complex than that. One source stated that superfoods are “like claiming some letter[s] of the alphabet are more important than other[s].”

 

So what’s the deal with the controversial foods–like red meat, avocados, and eggs–that, depending on who you ask, are both super and supposedly deadly? While I’m by no means a food scientist, I tried to simplify the results of what the research seems to be saying.

 

Red Meat:

Current studies do show a risk from consuming red meat, but this risk is generally from observational data. This means that the information does not avoid other variables and therefore the results could be skewed. Additionally, unless you’re going to stop eating red meat altogether, the risks aren’t increased dramatically by serving size. Deaths per 1,000 people only went up by 1.5 women and .7 men according to a Harvard School of Public Health study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. So while there are risks due to cholesterol, sodium, iron, and saturated fat in moderation red meat isn’t significantly more dangerous than any other food. 

 

Avocados: 

This food seems to live up to the hype overall with only two draw backs. First is the environmental impact. Wasting one avocado is the same as running a shower for over an hour with no one in it. The second drawback is the high fat content; it is a healthy fat that can help lower bad cholesterol, but the recommended serving size (in terms of calories) is 50 grams which is about ⅓ of a medium avocado. So while avocados can help control blood pressure, help your eyes, improve cell repair, fight off diseases, prevent cancer, and keep you full longer, it’s important not to eat too many.

 

Eggs:

Eggs are similar in red meat in that some people say they are extremely dangerous, but other sources say they might actually be a superfood. Some say eggs can help prevent cancer and heart disease while others say eggs can cause these things. The most important thing with eggs is portion control. Eggs provide protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin A, essential amino acids, antioxidants, good cholesterol, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium and folic acid which have all sorts of benefits (from strengthening your bones to improving your memory). But if you eat too many, the fat and cholesterol can lead to heart disease and even certain kinds of cancer. Basically, it’s recommended that you keep your egg-intake at three or less eggs a week to maximize health benefits (and minimize risks).

 

There are many other foods that pretty much amount to the same data–in small doses there are health benefits, but in excess there are risks.

 

So, what should you take away? Eat what makes you feel good–superfoods can be healthy, but too much of a good thing is never good. If you’re concerned about a food, do research but remember there’s no one answer. Lots of foods have the nutrients you need and lots have health risks; just remember to vary your diet and find the balance that works for your unique needs. Don’t let an inexact science control you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My research comes from:

“Superfoods or Superhype?” The Nutrition Source, 28 Oct. 2019, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/superfoods/.

Benedictus, Leo. “The Truth about Superfoods.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 29 Aug. 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/aug/29/truth-about-superfoods-seaweed-avocado-goji-berries-the-evidence.

Grimshaw, Vicki. “Food Scientist Debunks the Myths of What’s Good and Bad for You.” Mirror, 9 Dec. 2017, https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/superfoods-really-super-scientist-debunks-11666372.

Harvard Health Publishing. “What’s the Beef with Red Meat?” Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/whats-the-beef-with-red-meat.

Quirks and Quarks Podcast. “Red meat might not be bad, deflecting asteroids, politics making us sick, growing human brains in the lab, evolution and orgasms and animals in the midnight sun.” CBC Radio, 4 October 2019, http://cbc.mc.tritondigital.com/CBC_QUIRKSAIO_P/media/quirksaio-dNxc9Vn3-20191004.mp3

Zelman, Kathleen M. “Everything You Need to Know About Avocados.” WebMD, WebMD, 13 June 2018, https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/all-about-avocados.

Team, Family Health. “Can You Eat Too Much Avocado?” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 21 Dec. 2018, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-you-eat-too-much-avocado/.

Shreeves, Robin. “The Dark Side of the Trendy Avocado.” MNN, Mother Nature Network, 25 May 2018, https://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/avocado-chile-petorca-united-kingdom-village-drought.

“Eggs ‘Should Be Considered a Superfood’ Say Scientists.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 8 Mar. 2010, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/7397849/Eggs-should-be-considered-a-superfood-say-scientists.html.

“Health Concerns with Eggs.” Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/health-concerns-with-eggs.

“10 Pros and Cons of Eating Eggs.” HRF, 14 Jan. 2017, https://healthresearchfunding.org/10-pros-and-cons-of-eating-eggs/.