Some fish and dairy are good for your health because of their high levels of vitamins and minerals. According to the American Heart Association, there is no set criteria to determine what is and isn't a superfood. There are some foods that are more valuable than others in terms of their nutrition.

Despina Hyde, a registered dietician with the weight management program at New York University's Langone Medical Center, said that supermarkets don't have their own food groups. "Superfood" is more of a marketing term for foods that have health benefits."

A variety of vitamins and minerals are believed to ward off cancer and other diseases. There is an excess of free radicals in the body that can lead to diseases. Salmon has healthy fat which can help to prevent heart disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, high-fiber foods such as kale can aid in weight loss efforts.

Hyde told Live Science that it's a good idea to eat foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. She said that the key to a healthy diet was to eat a variety of healthy foods.

Popular superfoods

There are blueberries.

Blueberries are rich in vitamins, fiber, and chemicals that are important for human health.

The same amount of vitamins and minerals are found in many other types of berry. According to research published in the International Journal ofMolecular Sciences in 2015, regular berry consumption can bring down inflammation levels in the body.

A study published in the journal Circulation found that a high intake of flavonoids, which are found in berries, may reduce the risk of certain heart conditions. Barbara Shukitt-Hale told The Atlantic that the small berry may be the top spot because it has been more studied.

Most dark, leafy greens, like Swiss chard, collards, mustards, and cabbages, do not live up to the hype of being a superfood. It's a good idea to include broccoli on that list. The modern cabbage-mustard is grown for its flower rather than its leaves.

Dark green vegetables are full of vitamins A, C and K, as well as fiber, calcium and other minerals. In a paper published in the journal Food and Function, it was shown that regular consumption of spinach may lead to a reduced risk of developing a number of diseases.

woman chopping kale on a board

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There are sweet potatoes and squashes.

Similar to leafy greens, sweet potatoes and squash are on the superfood list. Both types of food are good sources of vitamins and fiber.

Grains and beans.

Whole grains and beans are included on the list. Beans have a lot of vitamins and trace minerals that are not found in the typical American diet.

According to a study published in the Journal of Food Science, yellow peas, green peas, chickpeas, soybeans, and red kidney beans have the highest levels ofAntioxidant abilities.

The benefits of whole grains are similar to those of beans, though they don't have the same amount ofProtein. It's not a grain, but it cooks up like one, and is a great source of vitamins and minerals.

bowl of bean chili with sour cream

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There are nuts and seeds in this picture.

Minerals and healthy fats can be found in nuts and seeds. These additions are high in calories, so they are not a good addition. A small group of nuts could have more than 100 calories. Almonds and walnuts are ideal because they take time to open, which slows you down.

Nuts and seeds

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There is a fish.

Salmon, sardines, mackerel, and certain other fish are rich in Omega 3's, which are believed to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, there are many benefits to eating fish. Don't eat fish that are high up on the food chain if you're worried about the contaminants. Some fish, such as sharks, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, have higher levels of mercury than other fish.

There are fruits.

Exotic fruit of the year is included in any superfood list. This could be a berry or fruit. Scientific studies don't show that these fruits are more healthful than other fruits, such as blueberries.

Some of the fruits may be very rich in certain vitamins and minerals. According to a 2020 review published in the Journal of Food Bioactives, ellagitannins, a type of ellagic acid, is found in the fruit. Ellagic acid is found in red raspberries, which are just as delicious.

man eating an acai bowl

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Criticism of the nomenclature

The term "superfood" is mostly a marketing tool with no roots in academic research according to scientists. Lobbyists and marketing ploys are used by manufacturers to shape the perception of their products.

Royal Hawaiian Macadamia nut, the world's largest seller of Hawaii's coveted crop, tried to sway public opinion about the health benefits of macadamia nuts by lobbying the FDA. A low-fat and low-cholesterol diet may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease if you consume 1.5 ounces of macadamia nuts per day, according to the FDA. Consumers went nuts after the macadamia nut industry took that to the press.

While the food itself might be healthful, the processing may not be. Green tea has many anti-oxidants when it is freshly brew. Most bottled green teas are cut with inferior tea and brew with a lot of sugar.

Many kinds of "super-juices" squeezed from acai berry, noni fruit and pomegranate can include large amounts of added sugar and are not as healthy as they appear. The phenomenon of retailers misleadingly promoting a product as good for you is known as healthwashing and is potentially problematic, as consumers may not realize how much sugar they are consuming when they drink.

Whole grains are often processed in order to make them less healthful. According to Dr. David Ludwig, instant whole-grain oats spike sugar levels in the bloodstream in a similar way to eating white bread.

woman cutting an avocado to make a healthy salad

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It's in moderation.

The term "superfood" can be misleading as it is not scientific and unquantifiable. Many of her clients are trying to lose weight and she encourages them to eat in moderation.

She said that people think they can eat them in unlimited quantities if they're labeled "super" and "healthy". You have to be careful with the amount of food you eat because you can gain weight if you eat too much.

According to research, the ideal diet is mostly plant-based, with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthful animal products.

Understanding the nutrition of the food you eat can be enlightening, but there are a lot of healthy foods out there, even if no one is calling them "super." A lot of affordable foods that don't carry a "superfood" label, such as canned peas and carrots, can be more accessible to those on a low income or who don't have access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Whole grains are often processed in order to make them less healthful. According to Dr. David Ludwig, instant whole-grain oats are as bad as overly processed white bread because they quickly spike sugar levels in the bloodstream.

Lou Mudge updated the article on Jan. 4, 2022.