We hear about this “super food” and that “super food”, usually imported and expensive, that claims to have some particular nutrient or antioxidant that is amazing. Do we really need these super foods? Micaela Karlsen sums it up perfectly when she says, “focusing on any single nutrient or class of nutrients outside the context of the whole, natural foods that contain them is a misplaced emphasis; the total dietary pattern is what most influences health outcomes.” It isn’t about any one nutrient or antioxident. We don’t need imported, exotic foods to nourish our bodies.
When are plant-based “superfoods” good for us? When they are whole and part of a low-fat diet comprised of foods eaten fresh, as grown, then yes — absolutely! A diet that includes potatoes, rice, beans, bananas, apples, spinach, kale, corn, cucumbers, kumquats, squash, quinoa, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, nuts, strawberries, and whatever else you want to throw on the plate is a great program! Eating colorful foods is beneficial, as long as they are whole foods and not extracts, powders, or concentrated individual nutrients. Eating for variety and color is a strategy that will deliver all the nutrients we need (with the possible exception of vitamin B12), as long as we are consuming adequate calories. We need not worry about whether or how we are getting enough of certain single nutrients or classes of nutrients.
It might be easier to just call a whole-food, plant-based diet a “superdiet” and leave it at that.