Greatist Bites examine what's fun, weird, innovative, and downright interesting in health, fitness, and happiness — all in 250 words or less. Check out all recent Bites here.Chocolate, coffee, and red wine have been deemed “superfoods” for the super effects they have on our health, but some benefits are more accurate than others. After spending months reviewing scientific studies, reviews, and meta-analyses (and ranking categories such as number of studies and popularity using tools like Google Scholar), Information Is Beautiful turned the research into an interactive infographic to display the validity of health claims about popular superfoods. Here are some of the most interesting findings.
While garlic is at the top of the list, with strong support that it lowers blood pressure, there’s less conclusive evidence it effectively treats colds or helps treat cancer Aged Garlic Extract Lowers Blood Pressure in Patients With Treated But Uncontrolled Hypertension: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Ried, K., Frank, O.R., Stocks, N.P.. Maturitas, 2010: 67 (2): 144-50..
Honey’s great for healing—it kills infections when applied directly to wounds and reduces inflammation—but there’s no strong evidence it relieves coughing Honey for Acute Cough in Children. Oduwole, O., Meremikwu, M.M., Oyo-Ita, A., et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2012: 3: CD007094.
Prunes really do help keep us regular, but the dried fruit may not actually prevent chronic diseases including cancer and heart disease Chemical Composition and Potential Health Effects of Prunes: A Functional Food? Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis, M., Bowen, P.E., Hussain, E.A., et al. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2001: 41 (4): 251-86..
Like prunes, flaxseeds are another popular high-fiber superfood, but there’s less support backing their ability to reduce tumor growth or lower blood pressure.
While coffee can improve asthma conditions, more research is needed to prove if it lowers the risk for depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
Promising evidence shows dark chocolate may lower blood pressure, but that doesn't necessarily mean it'll lower the risk for heart disease, stroke, or diabetes Does Chocolate Reduce Blood Pressure? A Meta-Analysis. Ried, K., Sullivan, T., Fakler, P., et al. BMC Medicine, 2010: 8: 39..
Eating eggs for breakfast can reduce hunger, but the effects of the incredible edible egg on eye health and diabetes is uncertain Consuming Eggs for Breakfast Influences Plasma Glucose and Ghrelin, While Reducing Energy Intake During the Next 24 hours in Adult Men. Ratliff, J., Leite, J.O., de Ogburn, R., et al. Nutrition Research, 2010: 30 (2): 96-103..
8. Green Tea
Green tea has the highest antioxidant content of all teas, but there’s conflicting evidence that drinking the stuff will lower cancer risk or cholesterol Green Tea Consumption and Serum Lipids and Lipoproteins in a Population of Healthy Workers in Japan. Tokunaga, S., White, I.R., Frost, C., et al. Annals of Epidemiology, 2002: 12 (3): 157-65..
Oysters are an excellent source of zinc, but there's no solid research stating that they boost sex drive.
10. Fish Oil/Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil/omega-3s were most strongly supported by trials for cancer prevention, but evidence they benefit cognitive function is less conclusive A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Investigating the Effects of Omega-3 Supplementation in Children Aged 8-10 Years From a Mainstream School Population. Kirby, A., Woodward, A., Jackson, S., et al. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2010: 31(3): 718-30..