America seems to have this obsession with finding that one food, supplement, or
component of a food, that will magically make them feel better. People are becoming so
desperate for these “secrets” that when Dr. Oz makes a suggestion for
supplementation, health food stores are bombarded with orders for these products. So
what is it that people are looking for? What are we lacking that makes us crazy for
anything that is said to improve our health?
Well, the answer is complicated, but also very simple: the Standard American Diet
(S.A.D.) is nutritionally bankrupt. We are also overworked and stressed which leads to
inadequate sleep and rest. Our bodies are not designed to work fifteen hours a day,
especially when those hours are mostly sitting at a desk and looking at a computer
screen. Elizabeth Somer, nutritionist and author of Food and Mood, Nutrition for a
Healthy Pregnancy, and The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, says that in her
opinion, 50% to 70% of suffering could be eliminated by what people eat and how they
move. Even if you are eating a healthy diet, adding superfoods to your diet can make
an enormous difference in the way you feel and can aid in combatting certain lifestyle
induced illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.
I use the theory of “crowding out” when it comes to losing weight or eating healthier.
Get more of the good and the bad will fade away or become significantly reduced.
Getting more of the good can include superfoods to give you an additional nutrient
boost. Superfoods are defined as a category of foods found in nature that are calorie
sparse and nutrient dense. They contain superior sources of antioxidants and essential
nutrients we need but cannot make ourselves.
I am going to highlight a few of the more popular superfoods that are pretty solid in
terms of the research that has been done to back up certain health claims. Keep in
mind that there is no formal process to the classification of a superfood and anyone can
make a health claim. Because of the exploding supplement industry, there have been
many false claims when it comes to these foods and lawsuits that have ensued.
Nutrition is an ever-changing and controversial science so if a claim seems too good to
be true, it probably is, however, it does not diminish the power some of these foods
have on health.
1. Coconut Oil: Saturated fat had been demonized for a while starting in the 90’s, but
has made a comeback as research began to disprove many of the myths surrounding
it. Coconut oil is a great example of a healthy saturated fat source. The body quickly
converts it into energy and it can help you lose weight. It contains lauric acid which is
especially important and rare because the only other natural source of this is in
human breast milk.
2. Blueberries: High in antioxidants and phytoflavonoids (natural chemicals found in
plants to protect them), blueberries also contain potassium and Vitamin C. They
have anti-inflammatory properties that make them very powerful in fighting chronic
3. Raw Cacao/Dark Chocolate: One of my favorites and packed with antioxidants,
cacao may help lower blood pressure as well. If you use raw cacao, it is 100% pure.
A dark chocolate bar, for example, has fat and sugar added to make it more
appealing to the taste buds. The darker, the better, and the darker the chocolate, the
less fat and sugar they need to add. Try for 60% or higher to reap the maximum
benefits of this delicious treat.
4. Maca: A Peruvian plant coming into popularity, the nutritional value is in it’s root.
The root is dried and sold mostly in a powder or flour form. It is said to be an
aphrodisiac, increasing fertility, energy, and vitality. Other benefits include alleviating
menopausal symptoms and correcting hormonal imbalances.
5. Turmeric: A plant of the ginger family, turmeric is native of Southwest India and is
mainly used in the United States as a dried spice, the main spice in curry that gives it
that bright orange-red color. It has been documented to have a number of health
benefits including regulating the menses, aiding digestion, dissolving gallstones, liver
decongestion, and overall healing of trauma or injuries.
6. Goji Berries: I debated including goji berries because of the several documented
false health claims, but I don’t like to rule something out all-together just because a
few companies threw some false statements out there. Also known as the wolfberry,
goji berries are usually sold in a dried form and can be made into an herbal tea or
used in baking or smoothies. The important thing to remember with this berry is that
it has a high interaction rate with other medicines. These interactions can be
potentially harmful so it’s important to rule these out with your doctor before using
These are just a few of the many foods classified as superfoods. One of the best
sources of micronutrients are dark leafy green vegetables. You can eat them as is or
buy them in a concentrated powder form at many health food stores and add them to
smoothies. Superfood smoothies are a great way to lose weight when part of a healthy
diet so experiment with different recipes that suit your taste. You can also bake with
many of these foods for an added nutritional punch.
If you are struggling to stay healthy or need guidance in making a change, consider
speaking with a Health or Nutrition Coach. We offer 30-minute FREE consultations.
Health is wealth so invest in your health and be the best YOU you can be!
Shawn Clavelle earned her bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Vermont. She is currently a student at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition working toward certification as a holistic health coach. Shawn’s vast clinical experience and knowledge of the healthcare system makes her proficient at helping others design their own treatment plan through structured goal setting and continuous evaluation of progress. Using a holistic approach with a focus on nutrition, she helps uncover the obstacles to good health and provides simple options for making better lifestyle choices.