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Can super foods let you live longer?

Whether it’s because it’s a new year, or because it’s a new trend, it seems that everywhere I look, there are hundreds of articles featuring the power of super foods. Or should I say… “Superfoods!”

Of the three magazines I have lying around my house, each of them are touting very specific lists of foods that will overhaul my marginal health, cure my hot flashes, make me look younger, get rid of my belly fat (how did they know?), and help me live to a hundred and twenty.

I’ve always considered myself knowledgeable about nutrients, and eating right for health. As a nurse, I’ve done my share of diabetes management teaching, and coronary artery disease prevention. I’ve always known that potato chips are bad for me, and that fresh fruits and vegetables are good.

I embraced a quasi-Mediterranean-Asian-Flexitarian lifestyle long ago. I follow it for the most part, when I’m not eating potato chips.

So, because of the way I approach a healthy diet, I read each and every “Superfood!” list that comes out. I want to live to a hundred and twenty while looking not a day over ninety, just like anyone else. I don’t want to be able to grab handfuls of my own belly fat, and I certainly can do without the hot flashes.

One men’s magazine, which I’m sure I’ve never subscribed to, but which shows up in my mailbox every month anyway, recently unveiled the “Top 10 Superfoods!” that stimulate virility. My goodness. There’s a list for everything.

But since I do read all these articles and lists, there is one thing that I’ve noticed over time. The same super foods are on every list. Without even looking at my magazines, I can recite some of the amazing, wonderful foods that star repeatedly on everybody’s lists, regardless of whether we want more stamina, healthier skin, or dramatic weight loss; garlic, ginger, blueberries, cherries, pomegranates, walnuts, almonds, fish, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, olive oil, and red wine.

These are all good things and very good for us. Do we need a thousand incredibly specific lists and rationales to make some changes to our diets and embrace these foods? Can’t we just say that eating them, and foods like them, would go a long way towards improving health and vitality, whether we are men, women, kids, young, old, or in between?

There’s been a lot of research on the typical American diet. Depending on how much convenience food we eat, our diet can be almost devoid of fiber, fresh produce, and so many nutrients that we need in order to stay healthy. We will never find a superfood in a cardboard box or a cellophane bag, and we certainly will never be able to order one out of a clown’s mouth at a drive-thru window.

My grandmother, who lived to be 102, (and didn’t look a day over 80), ate many of these superfoods on a daily basis. But back then, they weren’t called superfoods. They weren’t sought after as the cure-all for every malady under the sun. They were just considered the food that she planted, cooked and put on the table.

It’s hard to pick a fight with the term “Superfood” because compared to a bottle of soda or a bag of cheese puffs, the superfoods really are superior. But, what happened since my grandmother’s day? When did our food become so out of touch with nourishment?

I guess, no matter which list the superfoods are on, it’s a good idea to welcome them back in to today’s modern diet. Maybe they’ll become the norm, rather than a miracle cure.


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