Is It A Superfood? (Or A Superflop)

A new food is sweeping people across the nation. It helps people lose weight, gain muscle, increase libido and allow you to live until age 125 – they’re called Panda Seeds, and they’re completely made up! Be careful when dealing with “superfoods” because sometimes they aren’t superfoods at all…

Misleading Marketing

There is no legal, scientific or medical definition of the term “superfood.” In fact, the FDA hasn’t even defined it. The term is purely a marketing gimmick. This doesn’t necessarily mean the foods are bad for you, but be warned of products that sound too healthy to be true.

Coconut Water

Claim: Low in calories, naturally fat- and cholesterol free, more potassium than four bananas, and super hydrating – “Mother Nature’s sports drink.”

Evidence: Coconut water does contain important electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. It’s lower in carbs than both Gatorade and Powerade, but a study in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism found that it doesn’t hydrate any better than a sports drink does.

Truth: We recommend coconut water if you’re a recreational athlete that doesn’t like to drink plain water; however, if you’re training for a marathon or a triathlon, choose to consume a sports drink with more carbohydrates.


Claim: Detoxify your liver with shots and take a wheatgrass bath to boost blood cell production.

Evidence: Yes, it’s nutritious, but no, it’s nothing special. An article published in Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry found problems with existing wheatgrass research. Plus, foods and drinks don’t just magically detoxify you.

Truth: Wheatgrass is great in a healthy smoothie, but don’t count on it as your number one source of vegetables for the day (and especially not for a hangover pick-me-up).

Goji Berries

Claim: Treat diabetes, reverse high blood pressure, promote weight loss, enhance brain activity, boost immunity, battle cancer and protect against UV damage. Holy smokes!

Evidence: Goji berries are high in antioxidants and other nutrients, but those other claims crumble like a pillar made of sand. A Chinese study from 1994 suggested that combining goji extract with cancer treatment may prolong remission, but the study wasn’t able to prove its accuracy.

Truth: Rich in vitamin A, iron and fiber, but they won’t be taking the place of sunscreen anytime soon. Costing at almost $2 an ounce you must really like their bland taste.

Chia Seeds

Claim: Provides fiber, calcium, and iron. One article (not published by Chief Health) glorified the fact that chia seeds have nearly eight times the omega-3 content of salmon.

Evidence: Research reviews haven’t found proof that chia seeds provide any lasting health benefits. They contain mostly fatty-acids, which are different than the fatty-acids you’d find in salmon. You may be consuming more omega-3 per gram, but you won’t be getting the boost that salmon offers.

Truth: They don’t have the amount of omega-3 as promised, but they do contain 10 grams of fiber per ounce. Throw them in a shake or toss them on your yogurt to get some more daily fiber.

Pomegranate Juice

Claim: No more joint pain! Prevents prostate cancer! Longer, harder erections! Nectar of the gods!

Evidence: You can find fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins C and K in pomegranate seeds; however, evidence that the fruit provides any other benefits is not convincing. Most of the perks come from eating the fruit, not drinking the juice.

Truth: Enjoy pomegranates however you’d like, but don’t expect the special powers advertised. Compared with orange juice or whole fruit, pomegranates are higher in calories and sugar. They are also lower in fiber and some vitamins and nutrients.

Tiger Nuts

Claim: Prevent heart attacks, increase immunity and improve circulation. Plus, they’re gluten-free! Originally called “Yellow Nutsedge” which presumably wasn’t as alluring as “Tiger Nuts.”

Evidence: Tiger Nuts are nearly 50 percent carbs, which makes them more starchy than potatoes. They contain lots of fiber, fatty acids, and minerals, but research is scarce. A study published by BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that Tiger Nut powder mixed in water increased sexual performance – in male rats.

Truth: Try them if you’re curious. They taste similar to coconuts and are often a major ingredient in horchata. Ground Tiger Nut Flour is an alternative to wheat for people with celiac disease.

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