Kelsey Puddister
The Muse

ST. JOHN’S (CUP) — As a society, we are becoming more concerned with our health, and it seems this is coming just in time. Obesity rates in the westernized world are increasing rapidly, and some people have begun shifting their focus to healthier alternatives and simple foods containing the nutrients we always seem to be lacking.

“Superfood” is a term used by marketers to describe foods that, upon consumption, have supposed extraordinary health benefits. These foods are labeled as the ultimate good-for-you items containing important nutrients in maintaining good health.

So what makes these foods so super? So-called superfoods may have an unusually high content of antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, studies showed that people with low intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables were at greater risk for developing chronic conditions such as damage involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis and may contribute to cancer, vision loss, and heart disease.

Unfortunately, this term is used more in marketing and advertising than by nutritionists and dieticians, as there is doubt about the actual medical implications and health benefits of these foods. Clinical trials over the last decade began testing the impact of single substances such as beta-carotene and vitamin E as weapons against heart disease, cancer, and other common diseases. These findings have been disappointing to those who do the research into their superfoods.

Most research teams investigating the actual health benefits of superfoods, came up with mixed results. Studies have shown that an increase in antioxidants didn’t protect against heart disease or cancer. In the Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study, vitamin E, vitamin C, and/or beta-carotene have much the same effect as a placebo (control) on myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular death. When it comes to cancer prevention, results are inconclusive on antioxidant supplements.

Of course, our overall health is determined by our lifestyle. Our lifestyle obviously includes the things we eat. Eating superfoods such as avocado, nuts, blueberries, dark green vegetables, and beets is, of course, more beneficial to your body than the junk food that seems to plague our everyday lives. These foods do contain nutrients vital to a healthy and stable body composition. However, they are not scientifically proven to give you the super powers most companies market them for having.