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Life Happens: Miracle super offerings are just good, plain food

SPRINGVILLE — Whether it’s because this is a new year, or because this is a new trend, hundreds of articles about the power of super foods are everywhere I look.

Magazines list foods that will overhaul my marginal health, cure my hot flashes, make me look younger, get rid of my belly fat and help me live to 120.

As a nurse, I’ve done my share of diabetes management teaching and coronary artery disease prevention. I have 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 am not eating potato chips.

I read each “super food!” list that comes out. I want to live to 120, while looking not a day over 90, just like anyone else would. I don’t want to be able to grab handfuls of my own belly fat and I can certainly 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 super foods that stimulate virility. There’s a list for everything.

Since I do read all of 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 repeatedly star on everybody’s lists, regardless of whether we want more stamina, healthier skin or dramatic weight loss. These include garlic, ginger, blueberries, cherries, pomegranates, walnuts, almonds, fish, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, olive oil and red wine.

These are all positive things. Do we need 1,000 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 goes a long way toward improving our 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 many nutrients that we need, in order to stay healthy. We will never find a super food 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 older than 80), ate many of these super foods, on a daily basis. Back then, they weren’t called super foods. They weren’t sought after as cure-alls for every malady under the sun. They were just the foods that she planted, cooked and put on the table.

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

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