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SELF Editor’s New Book Claims Superfoods Will Cause Weight Loss

Superfoods are indeed super, but they aren’t a magic weight loss tool. A new diet book should be more clear before it becomes the next fad.

Lucy Danziger is the editor-in-chief of SELF magazine. She recently published a book about her experiences with eating superfoods and ditching dieting. The book is titled “The Drop 10 Diet. Add to Your Plate to Lose the Weight.”  The book describes how Danziger turned to foods like nuts, berries and whole grains and found herself 25 pounds lighter in just six months. She also focused on what she could eat verses what she couldn’t as she began her diet.

The foods Danziger sticks to are called superfoods. The superfood title was coined in 2004 by Dr. Steven Pratt. He compiled 20 foods that met the criteria for being “super.” These 20 foods are readily available to the public, contain nutrients that are known to enhance longevity, and the health benefits of the food has to be backed by peer-reviewed scientific studies.

The twenty foods that meet Dr. Pratt’s requirements are apples, avocado, beans, blueberries, broccoli, cinnamon, dark chocolate, dried superfruits, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, honey, kiwi, low-fat yogurt, oats, onions, oranges, pomegranates, pumpkin, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, and wild salmon.

Superfoods are supported by many professionals as being very healthy. Our resident nutritionist, Mary Hartley, RD concurs.

“I agree that the ‘superfoods’ mentioned are very nutritious. I choose them most often myself.”

The difficulty with Danziger’s claims is that simply eating superfoods will melt weight away. Hartley shared her colleague and fellow registered dietician Marisa Moore’s comments regarding weight loss and superfoods.

“Superfoods are healthy, but adding them to your plate won’t simply melt the pounds away.
They are weight-management friendly,” Moore wrote in an e-mail. “But to say that they boost fat loss may be taking it a step too far.”

Furthermore, Danziger describes her rapid weight loss, it seems, as an afterthought that her hobby of triathlons may have contributed to.

“The author describes a ‘diet-mentality’ way of looking at food that perpetuates yo-yo dieting,” says Hartley, ”and her triathlete experience has nothing to do with reality. Triathletes burn a lot of calories. Of course she lost weight.”

The “diet book” section of a bookstore is always chalked full of the latest and greatest technique to lose weight. The struggle is that there’s no new way to lose weight. No food will make a body lose weight. Weight loss only comes from eating fewer calories, period. While superfoods are great for one’s diet, the author should not be claiming they will cause weight loss.

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April 16th, 2012

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