Potatoes are the latest food to get elevated by the media to “superfood” status. How awesome is that? You can now eat potatoes unabashedly. The media, most likely spurred on by the potato growers association, has decided this past week that potatoes are great for you and deserve this new status. Articles like this on from Huffpo (6 Reasons we should be calling the potato a superfood) have been extolling the virtues of this newly designated “superfood”.
No more shameful glances as you have your baked potato slathered in butter and bacon bits. No more guilt for having that second helping of fries with your bacon burger. Go ahead and eat your potatoes with gusto, they are now “superfood” and are good for your health. Three cheers for potatoes; Huzzah, Huzzah, Huzzah.
I know what you’re thinking. How did the lowly potato go from calorie dense starchy carb that you should eat in moderation to the latest superfood? What the heck is a “superfood” anyway? If there are “superfoods”, are there “arch nemesis foods” like in the comic books. These are the things I think about when I can’t sleep at night, so others must have had the same questions. Since I failed to come across any food group designated “super” during my nutrition studies, I decided to dig a little to find out what it was all about. I used to think superfoods were some media driven idea that gave them a cool headline to print to get the attention of the unwashed masses. It turns out, I was pretty much right. The “superfood” designation is a marketing/media concept to try to bring attention to certain foods that someone has decided aren’t getting enough street cred and need media attention. Generally, “superfoods” are particular food items that are nutrient dense and are unusually high in vitamins and minerals and are considered extra healthy (I’m not sure what they are comparing these foods to when determining the relative health effect). They might have large quantities of antioxidants, phytochemicals, dietary fiber or healthy fats, which are all considered beneficial for overall health. They are what our and grand parents generation would have called, food, but in today’s media driven society they have been elevated to make them suave and sexy. They are usually plant based, but there have been some protein based “superfoods” such as salmon. By being designated a “superfood”, a simple run of the mill food item can garner lots of media attention and become an acceptably healthy part of one’s diet. Just look at the potato. It’s gotten a bad rap lately, being blamed for making people flabby and unhealthy with all those extra calories and starch, but now it’s a superfood, ergo it’s healthy for all.
Don’t get me wrong here, there’s nothing wrong with adding potatoes to your dietary regimen, in moderation, and without all the additives or extra processing that tends to nullify it’s healthy benefits. Sorry, that cup of sour cream with bacon bits that you add to your baked potato is still unhealthy for you. Deep frying potatoes, or for that matter deep frying anything, is still incredibly bad for your overall health. Just because the food you’re deep frying is a “superfood”, it still doesn’t make it good for you. Slathering your potato skin with a cheeselike substance, ranch dressing and bacon bits, is still bad for you. So what’s the point of having “superfoods” if they aren’t going to offset the “arch nemesis foods”? I agree, it kind of sucks. The way it should work is that the “superfoods” cancel out the “arch nemesis” foods so you can eat all the good tasting “arch nemesis food” stuff you want and just cancel out the bad effects with the yucky healthy “superfood” stuff. Unfortunately that’s just not how a healthy diet works. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
So whats the point of having “superfoods” if they can’t kick the ass of the bad guys? Well, I guess the point is that in order to get healthy, you have to replace the bad stuff in your diet with “superfoods”, and by bringing attention to the healthy benefits of certain foods, maybe you’ll try them and add them to your diet. At least that’s what I get out of the media hype surrounding superfoods. Just bear in mind that a healthy diet consists of a variety of foods in the right quantities to meet your macro-nutrient needs. There is no single food item that can swoop in and save your diet. Consuming too much of any one single food item can throw off the balance of your diet and be unhealthy. So don’t get too caught up in all the media hype surrounding “superfoods”. Not even the now “Superfood” potato can save the day if you have poor eating habits. Only a consistent day to day effort of eating healthy will save your health.