Superfoods are foods — mostly plant-based but also some fish and dairy — that are thought to be nutritionally dense and thus good for one’s health. Blueberries, salmon, kale and acai are just a few examples of foods that have garnered the “superfood” label. However, there are no set criteria for determining what is and what is not a superfood, according to the American Heart Association. “Superfoods don’t have their own food group,” said Despina Hyde, a registered dietician with the weight management program at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “As a dietician, I think ‘superfood’ is more of a marketing term for foods that have health benefits.”
Superfoods contain a variety of nutrients, such as antioxidants, which are thought to ward off cancer. They also have healthy fats, thought to prevent heart disease; fiber, thought to prevent diabetes and digestive problems; and phytochemicals — the chemicals in plants responsible for deep colors and smells, which can have numerous health benefits. Consuming foods that are packed with nutrients (as many so-called superfoods are) is certainly a good idea, Hyde told Live Science. But the key to a healthy diet is to consume a variety of nutritious foods in the right quantities, she added.