10 Not-So-Super Superfoods We Thought Were More Super Than They Are

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Superfood InfographicPhoto: Information is Beautiful

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.

1. Garlic
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 [1].

2. Honey
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 [2].

3. Prunes
Prunes really do help keep us regular, but the dried fruit may not actually prevent chronic diseases including cancer and heart disease [3].

4. Flaxseeds
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.

5. Coffee
While coffee can improve asthma conditions, more research is needed to prove if it lowers the risk for depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

6. Chocolate
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 [4].

7. Eggs
Eating eggs for breakfast can reduce hunger, but the effects of the incredible edible egg on eye health and diabetes is uncertain [5].

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 [6].

9. Oysters
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 [7].

Here at Greatist, we put research and studies at the forefront, and this infographic is the perfect example of how science is always rapidly evolving

What surprised you most about these findings? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet the author at @cshih7.

About the Author
Cindy Shih
I’ve always been a big enthusiast for all things healthy and happy. I love the bridge between mental and physical health and am constantly seeking...

Works Cited

  1. Aged garlic extract lowers blood pressure in patients with treated but uncontrolled hypertension: a randomized controlled trial. Ried, K, Frank, OR, Stocks, NP. Maturitas, 2010: 67 (2): 144-50.
  2. Honey for acute cough in children. Oduwole, O, Meremikwu, MM, Oyo-Ita, A, et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2012: 3: CD007094.
  3. Chemical composition and potential health effects of prunes: a functional food?. Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis, M, Bowen, PE, Hussain, EA, et al. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2001: 41 (4): 251-86.
  4. Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis. Ried, K, Sullivan, T, Fakler, P, et al. BMC Medicine, 2010: 8: 39.
  5. Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men. Ratliff, J, Leite, JO, de Ogburn, R, et al. 2010: 30 (2): 96-103.
  6. Green tea consumption and serum lipids and lipoproteins in a population of healthy workers in Japan. Tokunaga, S, White, IR, Frost, C, et al. Annals of Epidemiology, 2002: 12 (3): 157-65.
  7. 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.

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