So-Called "Superfoods" May Be Bad For Your Health, Or At Least Your Wallet

NETANYA, ISRAEL - FEBRUARY 22: Freshly harvested broccoli are on sale in the local produce market February 22, 2006 in Netanya in central Israel. Fresh locally-grown vegetables, a source of antioxidants according to the American Heart Association, feature regularly in meals in Mediterranean countries. The Mediterranean diet, a term used to broadly describe the eating habits of the people of the region, is widely believed to be responsible for the low rates of chronic heart disease in the populations of the 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
Source: David Silverman/Getty Images News/Getty Images

"Superfood" has an undoubtedly positive connotation, but what does that unregulated marketing term really mean? Unfortunately, upon examination, you'll find that some so-called "superfoods" may actually be bad for your health. In the European Union, companies are banned from making unsubstantiated "superfood" claims about their products, but here in the United States the label lives on. What do you need to worry about? 

For starters, kale: we've been seeing kale in everything from salads and burgers to guacamole and juices these past few years. But too much kale can interfere with proper thyroid function. Just because kale is "healthy" doesn't mean you should knock yourself out eating it all day long: try mixing it up with other greens and veggies. Though they look cool in those beautiful (pricey) glass-bottled concoctions and provide some healthy omega-3 fats, chia seeds upset many people's stomachs (unlike your ordinary fish or encapsulated omega-3 alternatives). Coconut water "hydrates" in that it contains water (duh), but it also contains plenty of sugar — much like those big bad sodas and candies you've been so careful to avoid. 

In other words, superfoods are just plain overpriced and overhyped. Even when superfoods aren't so bad for your body, they're quite bad for your budget. When you consider the costs versus the benefits, even the actually healthy superfoods will enrich their manufacturers' wallets much more than they'll enrich your body. Don't allow misconceptions and marketing bullshit keep you from working towards a better diet in other ways, though: eating healthy does not have to be expensive. 

Choosing tried and true staples (like broccoli, tomatoes, and berries) over unproven superfood ingredients will make your food dollar go so much further. Choose frozen produce for even more savings, almost as much nutrition, and less food waste. If you keep yourself from eating out some of the time, and from throwing away so much food at home, you'll be eating well and boosting your budget in no time – no "superfoods" necessary. 

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