Plenty of people hate kale.
It doesn't matter that it's a so-called "superfood." (Yes, it is pretty super.)
After all, you can't help what you like... or don't like. But should your force down a "superfood" even if you detest it? Not necessarily.
While it's popular to put some foods on a pedestal above others, there's more to healthy eating than just the nutrition facts. Context matters. Preferences matter. Goals matter. It's never just as simple as "good" vs. "bad" or "healthy" vs. "unhealthy."
Some examples of five celebrated superfoods and their sometimes demonized counterparts include:
Nutrient-packed kale vs. basically just water iceberg lettuce
Power grain quinoa vs. plain old white rice
Cancer-fighting blueberries vs. starchy bananas
Trendy coconut oil vs. kitchen staple olive oil
Fat-fighting egg whites vs. cholesterol-boosting whole eggs OR perfectly-balanced whole eggs vs. woefully incomplete egg whites, depending on your point of view
It's often more empowering and impactful to choose your foods depending on what's most important to you, not just an arbitrary list of food rules.
Let's take a closer look at olive oil vs. coconut oil.
The claims of olive oil: rich in vitamins, anti-inflammatory, a healthy fat
But it's "old news."
The claims of coconut oil: the "superfood" because it contains metabolism-boosting medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil by the numbers (per tablespoon):
13.5 grams fat
1.9 grams saturated fat
9.8 grams monounsaturated fat
1.4 grams polyunsaturated fat
103 Omega-3 fatty acids (mg)
1318 Omega-6 fatty acids (mg)
10% daily value Vitamin E
10% daily value Vitamin K
7% daily value Iron
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil by the numbers (per tablespoon):
13.5 grams fat
11.7 grams saturated fat
0.8 gram monounsaturated fat
0.2 gram polyunsaturated fat
0 Omega-3 fatty acids
243 Omega-6 fatty acids (mg)
0% Vitamin E
0% Vitamin K
Olive oil is rich in:
Oleic acid - provides heart health benefits and may fight inflammation and cancer
Phenols - powerful antioxidants with many potential benefits including fighting inflammation, viruses, and tumors
Coconut oil is rich in:
Lauric acid - may have antibacterial and antimicrobial benefits
BEYOND THE NUTRITION LABEL...
Olive Oil might be the better choice if you:
Want to minimize saturated fat or prioritize heart-healthy fats
Are looking for a plant-based replacement for butter
Want to replace other vegetable oils in salad dressings or for oven roasting
Coconut oil might be the better choice if you:
Don't get much saturated fat from other sources
Are looking for a plant-based replacement for butter or shortening in baked goods
Want to add a coconut flavor to a savory dish
Olive oil wins out over coconut oil nutritionally, but the best choice depends on your overall fat intake and how you are cooking.
Essentially, how "super" a food is depends on your:
individual body (allergies, intolerances, illnesses, medical conditions, etc.)
current eating style
This is why I do not deem foods "good" or "bad." It's about choosing more or less optimal foods for YOU.
No single food will transform your eating patterns, but these tips might:
Eat slowly to 80% full.
Eat a wide variety of minimally-processed foods.
Consider how food preparation may affect nutrition.
Think in terms of "a little bit better."
Small improvements, done consistently, add up.
How can you reframe your thinking about your relationship with food, your wellness habits, and your eating patterns and priorities?