Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Superfood Scrutiny

Of vitamins and miracles



 



In literature, a legend begins with a kernel of truth, and then after generations of exaggeration, the character has become superhuman, animated with amazing powers. The truth is lost to the better, more compelling story of slaying monsters, rescuing cities or loving eternally.
 

That process works wonderfully as an analogy for a category of foods, too: the so-called superfoods. These grains or leafy greens or berries or ground crustacean shells allegedly cure everything from gout to erectile dysfunction to cancer. Recently, a well-known Mediterranean restaurant announced that lupine beans (or lupini) would be added to their menus, including the Oklahoma City location.

If you have never heard of this legume, don’t feel alone. While the incredibly bitter seeds are a popular snack around the Mediterranean and in South America, they are relatively unknown in the U.S. The health benefits are impressive, too. Only 200 calories per cup, the seeds also provide protein – the highest plant protein of any legume – fiber and B vitamins. They have to be brined for days to remove the bitterness, and they are linked to allergic reactions, especially with people who have a peanut allergy.

As with many things Mediterranean, the lifespans of people who live in that area are touted as evidence of the superiority of their diets … without considering the actual benefits of slower, less stressful lives in the overall longevity equation.

One of the earliest and best known of the superfood trends was the acai berry from Brazil. According to Mother Jones, acai-based products grossed approximately $200 million in the U.S. in 2012. As with most trends in our high-speed age, when the cataracts didn’t clear up or the sciatica stop flaring up, the culture moved on to the next superfood as a sort of messianic quest for natural healing – as long as it happens quickly.

Today, kale is the messianic food du jour. Yes, some people find it delicious, and yes, it’s even good for us, but the idea that there is a granola-and-Birkenstocks equivalent of “just take this pill” is just as misguided as the Fen-Phen obesity solution.

“Kale is high in iron, but it won’t cure cancer,” says Petra Colindres, a registered dietician and nutritionist. At her business, Nutrition by Petra, Colindres regularly educates clients who have been misinformed about how nutrition works.

“I tell clients to look at the environment they live in, not just what they’re putting in their bodies,” Colindres says. “Sure, add kale, but if you’re still eating fast food or smoking cigarettes, kale and berries won’t help you.”

Nutrition is a complex combination of factors, and Colindres notes that every person is different. “All diets don’t work for everyone,” she says. “From a dietician’s perspective, extreme diets are a terrible idea, and eliminating a food group means eliminating micronutrients your body needs.”

That advice also applies to another craze: juicing. “You definitely get the micronutrients from juicing,” Colindres says, “but you don’t get the fiber you need from fruits and vegetables. Likely, you’ll be hungry a half hour later. You’re better off to blend them rather than juice them.”

Still, eating natural is far better than eating processed foods, and the superfoods do have clear health and nutrition benefits. The task is to sort out the truth from the marketing.


“The miracle grain of the Andes,” is how The Guardian described the marketing surrounding this staple grain of Bolivia and Peru. Quinoa is very high in protein (roughly 15 percent) compared to other grains, and it’s very easy to prepare, pairs well with other foods, and can be used with delicious effect in vegetarian and vegan diets. That in spite of the “Queen-O” burgers made famous by Bud Light.

In the same article, The Guardian reported that by 2013 the price of quinoa had risen with Western demand such that poor Bolivians could no longer afford a staple grain, a double loss in that they also lost a good source of non-animal protein. In Lima, Peru, quinoa costs more than chicken, and Peruvians were turning to less expensive junk food as a result. Whether healthy eating should have an ethical component is up to individuals, but this is certainly worth taking into account.

Much like the electrolytes refrain from Idiocracy, the antioxidant craze of the early 21st century is wearing thin and yielding very little solid evidence. Are they good for us? Yes. When acai berries are used in makeup, do the antioxidants help our skin? Is that a serious question? Do they boost weight loss? No unbiased scientific study has found that to be true. The studies so far indicate that the berries of the acai palm are exactly as good for us as raspberries, which not only taste better, they cost less.

These lima-looking little guys are high in plant protein, dietary fiber and essential amino acids … but some varieties aren’t just unpalatably bitter, they’re actually poisonous. Unless, that is, you’ve got the time and patience to soak them in salt water for a week while changing out the water every day, and even then they can trigger allergic reactions. Time will tell whether they truly take root in American health cuisine.

Related to cabbage, believe it or not, kale is loaded with vitamins A, C and K as well as omega-3 acids. There is very little criticism of kale that is not related to its ubiquity. Kale chips are delicious and clearly better for us than potato chips – baked or otherwise. Some people have an issue with the texture of kale chips or sautéed kale, but this is one leafy green that earns its current special status. As Colindres points out, it won’t cure cancer, so any outrageous claims about its health benefits should be laughed off, but it’s OK to do so while eating kale. Again, though, it’s supposed to be part of a complex, balanced diet – not the star of every meal.

In addition to flatulence, expect zero taste benefits from these tiny seeds. The science is all over the place on this seed of a flowering plant from Latin America. A cursory glance at Google search results indicates that chia seeds offer 11 or eight or possibly nine health benefits. That sort of Buzzfeed-style list-making likely indicates uncertainty. The criticism that seems based on actual science is that the much-touted omega-3 acids in chia seeds are the wrong kind for humans. As a secondary and icky problem, the seeds get very slimy when wet, so mixing them in certain foods guarantees a slimy texture.

This green tea is the latest product that marketers are lying about – sorry, touting its benefits. Try this headline: Matcha will “torch body fat.” Or this one: Dr. Kristi Pado Funk puts matcha on the top of her Anti-Cancer Diet Grocery List. I have an iPhone and I can barely make a grocery list, let alone categorize the lists into “causes cancer” and “fights cancer.” The antioxidants are exponentially greater than in regular green tea, but – and this is going to sound repetitive – the unbiased scientific studies are not complete on this one yet either.

Again with the berries. What’s wrong with raspberries? They’re delicious. If you don’t like red things, blueberries also taste great. Goji berries have been credited with increased athletic performance, improving sleep cycles and (of course) weight loss. As with acai berries, no scientific studies back up these claims. They are berries, though, so eat up – or pay less for delicious raspberries.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

Speaker Box: May’s Show Saturation

Exceptional May concerts coming to the Jones Assembly and Tower Theatre; Ariana Grande lights up the Chesapeake Arena.

Magic Carpet Ride

If redecorating is on your mind this spring, find a dose of design magic in these carpets and rugs from local retailers.

Matters of the Mouth

The Oklahoma Dental Association’s Dr. Shannon Griffin talks about Mission of Mercy and the advancement of dental health.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

May 2019

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Start your Sunday morning by perfecting your practice during our outdoor yoga class. Enjoy the beauty of yoga outdoors in the glow of the Ferris Wheel lights! This class welcomes all levels, from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wheeler Ferris Wheel
1701 S. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73109
View map »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

MILLER IN MAY HOME TOUR HIGHLIGHTS CHARACTER AND CHARM The 20th anniversary of Miller's beloved home tour Miller Neighborhood's most popular event is back for 2019… and...

Cost: $10 - $30

Where:
Miller Neighborhood
NW 10th to NW 16th, N Villa to N May
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Miller Neighborhood Association
Telephone: 405.642.5982
Contact Name: Elizabeth Beard

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

OKC's premier chamber orchestra, the Oklahoma Virtuosi, presents their season finale concert.  Concert will include: St. Paul's Suite Op.29 No.2 by Gustav Holst,...

Cost: Free

Where:
21C Hotel
900 W. Main St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Website »

More information

As the first anniversary of her sixth album Conversation With A Ghost approaches in June, Italian-born and Austin-based singer-songwriter Giulia Millanta possesses a...

Cost: $15-$20

Where:
The Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: The Blue Door
Telephone: (405) 524-0738
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Piedmont Airlines will be hosting a Information Session for ramp agent jobs at Embassy Suites in OKC. Please plan to spend up to 3 hours with us, as we will have you fill out applications, listen...

Cost: Free

Where:
Embassy Suites
1815 South Meridian Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: Piedmont Airlines
Telephone: 704-359-2477
Contact Name: Nick Calo
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Watch happy hour turn to golden hour while we fill the air with live music. For 5 consecutive Tuesday evenings, we invite OKC to come out after work to enjoy a variety of food, views,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chisholm Creek
1316 W Memorial Rd
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
View map »


Sponsor: OkSessions.com
Contact Name: James
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

More than 90 visual artists will line the streets of the Historic Paseo Arts District, selling original artwork in a wide variety of media, from painting and photography to wood and jewelry, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Paseo Arts District
3022 Paseo
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Paseo Arts Association
Telephone: 405-525-2688
Contact Name: Paige Powell
Website »

More information

Enjoy all your favorite activities at the Orr Family Farm for a special price! Admission is only $8 per person on this day only.

Where:
Orr Family Farm
14400 S. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73170
View map »


Telephone: 405.509.9312
Contact Name: Lauren Daughety

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Save $5 on a Dual Park Pass this Memorial Day Weekend! Get a full day of fun at Andy Alligator’s Fun Park and Water Park for only $29.99. A Dual Park Pass includes Unlimited Rides &...

Cost: Save $5 on a Dual Park Pass!

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Place
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags