Exactly what is a superfood?

It seems that half the items we normally eat happen to be relabeled lately, from being just normal food to being superfood. It\’s gotten so bad that many of us have started to think, \”You keep by using their word. I do not think it means what you believe it means.\”

So WTF makes a superfood so super, anyways? Could it be full of vitamins? Or maybe it was just given gamma rays?

As as it happens, the term \”superfood\” has no set definition. It can refer to anything viewed as healthier than average, in order to something which reputedly targets health issues related to specific diseases. However, like the term \”natural,\” it\’s unregulated, which means that you could make reference to candy like a superfood should you wanted. (Not too anyone would believe you, though. Well, maybe Rose from the Golden Girls.)

In fact, most nutritionists and scientists eschew the word \”superfood,\” as research on supposed health advantages isn\’t promising. For example, a 2014 Harvard newsletter reported that eating heart-healthy superfoods alone won\’t shield you from cardiac arrest. A better idea is to eat more unprocessed food with a lot of variety-because eating one healthy food choices exclusively usually means you receive a large amount of one benefit without supporting anything else. It\’d be like only replacing the gas in your car while ignoring the engine oil, antifreeze, and brake fluid: You are able to drive for some time, but eventually you\’ll have some problems.

Despite \”superfood\” being mostly an advertising and marketing technique, there is some hope: In 2014 researchers in the University of Warwick recognized a protein, Nrf2, as interacting with certain kinds of health foods. Nrf2 is found in every cell within your body, and reportedly monitors if cells are healthy. If they\’re threatened by, Nrf2 activates cellular disease fighting capability to protect the cells. Nrf2 itself was found to operate checks every 129 minutes, however when a vegetable-derived substance was added, the checks became faster: every 80 minutes. What this means is your cells can recognize and combat health problems faster, before more damage build up.

So more or less, your folks were right all along: Eat your vegetables to grow strong and healthy.

Feature Image: Thinkstock

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