These alternatives are just as nutritious and come at a cheaper price
Nutritionists really hate the term ‘superfood.’ It bounces around from trend to trend: First it was chia seeds, then it was dark chocolate, and sometimes it’s wine.
“There is a danger in calling any one food ‘super,’” says Nicci Schock, nutritionist at Elevate by Nicci. “Giving those designations to foods leads the general public to discount the greater picture of what healthy is for them, and often creates an idea that one food can be a shortcut to health or weight loss.”
It’s not that hyped superfoods aren’t super—it’s that the ones that aren’t hyped are also super, says sports nutritionist Matt Fitzgerald, author of Racing Weight.
“Unpack the label. There are usually similar versions, but the superfoods are just exotic enough to be more interesting,” he says.
Just be mindful of what you’re eating and how it makes your body feel so you can find what works specifically for you, says nutritionist Kyle Pfaffenback. If you end up preferring spinach over kale then so be it, he says.
Here are a few “superfoods” that aren’t worth the hype—and the cheaper, tastier, and more nutritious options you can switch to instead.
You’ve probably found these small, tart berries sprinkled on a salad at some point in the last few years.
Some claim the berries make them feel calmer, and even aid in athletic performance.
But the truth is, “goji berries are very expensive and not proven to be any healthier then other berries,” says dietician Nanci Guest. “Variety is key, so get a variety of cheaper berries.”
Quinoa is always touted to be high in protein as a superfood, but that’s simply not accurate, says Guest.
“It just has more protein than rice,” she explains.
Instead of sticking to just quinoa, mix up your whole grains with whole rye, bulgur, spelt, brown rice or farro.
“None are really superior, each just provides a different profile of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients,” Guest says.
Kale is great, especially in smoothies or baked into chips—and it packs some serious vitamins and minerals.
But if you always reach for this leafy green, it might be time to mix up your nutrients, because it’s not the only superstar green, says Fitzgerald.
“What about spinach? It’s actually more nutritious than kale,” he says.
Spinach is a great source of iron, a critical mineral in producing hemoglobin, which helps deliver oxygen to working muscles. And it’s also packed with folate, which helps keep your cells healthy.
DARK CHOCOLATE AND WINE
It’s dangerous to believe any kind of overly indulgent food is actually a superfood, and wine and dark chocolate are two of the worst offenders.
Touted as heart-healthy and antioxidant-rich, the two are also packed with calories (and alcohol in wine’s case).
Enjoy them as indulgences, but don’t count them as your healthy eating for the day, or add either into your diet for health reasons, says Guest.