Everyone loves superheroes. They save the day with their superpowers and special abilities to fight evil. From Superman to Wonder Woman, we all love to see when good wins. Can food have superpowers? Some foods have been presented as such. A superfood is defined as “a nutrient-dense food considered to be particularly beneficial for health and well-being”.
Superfood is a marketing term little used by dietitians because foods can have excellent health qualities but are not “super” on their own. Some foods don’t have the magic power to make you miraculously healthy, but there are some nutrient-dense foods. They have the power to help with weight loss, help lower blood sugar and blood pressure, and help lower cholesterol and more.
An Internet search for “superfoods” will bring you several lists. Among these lists you will find many fruits and vegetables, legumes, kale, blueberries, beans and nuts to name a few. Fiber is a “super” benefit that these foods all share.
Research shows that fiber is good for heart and gut health, may reduce the risk of diabetes and certain cancers, and may help with weight loss. Fibrous foods are rich in vitamins and minerals needed by our body. Fiber also provides satiety or fullness, which can prevent overeating. Fruits and non-starchy vegetables are examples of fiber-rich foods that are also lower in calories.
The US Dietary Guidelines recommend that women consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day and that men consume at least 36 grams of fiber per day. The most recent Dietary Guidelines 2020-2025 contain a range of fiber intake recommendations based on age. Track your fiber intake for a day to see where you stand.
If you need to add more (most Americans do), you can add blueberries and walnuts to your oatmeal, add spinach, strawberries, or almonds to your salads, or substitute your potatoes for dinner by beans. White, black and pinto beans can add 7-9 grams of fiber per serving.
There are many ways to add fruits and vegetables to your diet.
If you increase fiber in your diet, do it slowly. Also, it is important to increase your water intake as you increase the fiber content. If you add too much fiber and not enough water, you can face constipation.
It’s important to avoid marketing terms and stay informed and engaged to improve your health. VA dietitians can help veterans with this and can also find other ways to add fiber to their diet.
To start improving your heart and gut health, veterans can call their local VA or speak to their provider about scheduling an appointment with a VA Registered Dietitian today.