All ‘superfoods’ not THAT super

Blueberries‘Superfood’ has become a mainstream label that we advocates of ‘food as medicine’ have ….perhaps, been guilty of just a wee bit of overusing.

It is thought that the term originated with Popeye, back in the 1950s, when the cartoon character impressed us all with his chant, “I’m strong to the finish ’cause I eat my spinach, I’m Popeye the sailorman.”

During the last few years, kale, Goji berries, blueberries, wheat grass, coconut water, quinoa and broccoli have all been enthusiastically embraced as superfoods.

And, don’t get me wrong, they are all fine, nutritious foods. Superfoods are defined in modern dictionaries as exceptionally nutrient-dense foods, beneficial to good health. All the above foods meet those standards.  However….

As we discussed earlier on this site, William Paterson University researchers in New Jersey recently conducted a comprehensive study on numerous fruits and vegetables measuring the amounts of 17 critical nutrients. And guess what? Kale, one of the latest superfood crazes, does not even make the top ten, although nearly all those nutrient-rich winners are greens.

Kale is actually ranked number 15. Some of the others may surprise you.

Top of the superfood most nutrient-dense list is watercress, followed in order by Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens and…Popeye’s spinach. Number six is chicory (used in hard times as a coffee substitute), 7, leaf lettuce, 8, the humble parsley, 9, Romaine lettuce and 10, collard greens. Eleven and 12 are rounded out by turnip greens and mustard greens.

(Perhaps all those greens-loving Southerners had it right….despite their equal love for fried grits and pork belly.)

Finishing out the top 20 are endive, chives, and kale at 15. Number 16 is dandelion greens (which I harvested from the garden this morning and fed to the chickens). Number 17 is red pepper, arugula, broccoli (19) and pumpkin.

The best bet for each of us is to learn about each food (ample information is available on the Internet) and remember that each body is unique and may have different needs. For instance, those with a tendency to form blood clots may need to minimize or eliminate kale, as it is extremely rich in vitamin K.

A general health rule for all of us is to consume simple whole foods as our ancestors did, exercise, get sunshine… and supplement wisely for, no matter what we eat, we are not getting many of the micronutrients we need in this age of industrial agriculture and mostly depleted soil.



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