By Millie Pugh
Whether it’s on television, in the supermarket or on social media we are constantly bombarded by health claims and information on how the latest foods and trends can help transform our lives. From teatox tea’s, ginger shots to neon green powders, food companies and authors have written a never ending list of products promising the consumer countless health and slimming benefits. However, despite our love affair with goji berries and chia seeds many of us are still puzzled to which superfoods are truly super and how best to cook our healthier choices so we ultimately look amazing in our bikinis/shorts this summer. We addressed some of the most common myths/claims and gave our verdict on whether it’s fact or faux – hope you find it useful and shift those stubborn pounds happily and healthily.
ACAI BOWL MANIA
Okay, so nobody can deny how visually foodgasmic a superfood bowl can be while scrolling through our Instagram feeds but does this berry live up to its reputation and are these bowls really worth the buck? Acai or “ah-sigh-EE” bowls as they’re correctly pronounced are made from an Amazonian super berry that in fact has more than double the antioxidants of blueberries and almost ten times that of grape. However, and this is a big however, the bowls you so often see on Instagram are loaded with toppings sending the sugar and calorie content sky high contradicting any weight loss benefits. Tip 1 kindly ask your waiter or waitress to leave off the banana topping as most blends already contain bananas saving 100-150 calories from the off. Tip 2 if you’re a home bowl maker get to know your granola, or better still sprinkle with a tsp of toasted rolled oats or cacao nibs avoiding that sugar spike. Tip 3 use freeze-dried acai powder for your bowls, not the juice blends as they only contain 1.7% of the antioxidant content as the powder and have high amounts of added sugar.
Verdict: worth the hype, but be cautious when it comes to your brands, blends and toppings or it may secretly sabotage your summer body goals.
RAW Vs COOKED
Eating our veggies raw will surely give us the most plant power from our crops right? But according to CureJoy nutritional experts, not all veggies are best-served al-dente. Spinach, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, broccoli and mushrooms are more beneficial to our bodies when cooked due to easier digestion allowing us to absorb more of the healthy antioxidants like beta-carotene found in carrots and lycopene found in tomatoes. Steaming is the top choice to prepare these veggies giving exception to red peppers which are best roasted or lightly fried. It goes without saying there’s nothing more comforting than eating a portion of thick hand-cut chips but unfortunately there are zero health benefits to deep-fat frying.
Verdict: not all veggies are best eaten rabbit style, but be careful not to overcook your greens as this can kill those all important antioxidants.
“HEART HEALTHY” OILS:
I think we can all agree that the low fat everything phase has passed especially since the described “heart-healthy” oils like coconut and extra virgin olive oil have joined the scene. But what’s even the difference between virgin and extra virgin oil, and how much if at all should we use? We’re encouraged to do almost everything with coconut oil from rubbing it into our skin and hair to even adding it to our coffee’s supposedly boosting our metabolism AKA introducing The Bullet Coffee. Without delving into the scientific details it’s important to note that no oil is natural; all oils are man made products that are 100% fat with very few nutrients. Putting it simply all oils are calorie dense and should be used sparingly if at all, especially if your main goal is lowering body weight. You probably will be surprised at how easy it is to cook oil-free with a non-stick pan and added water.
Verdict: the oil debate is a complex one as the different kinds are certainly not equal… Nevertheless, we advise you to use all kinds sparingly and definitely not adding any to your coffee.
Now, these guys have got to be the holy grail of healthy? They sure do come across that way especially when reading the 8 portions of fruit/veg that are listed in the ingredient list, but whizzing up these greens simply gives our bodies one less job to do during digestion. Despite the supercharged description smoothies/juices are stripped of their fibre the part that most people are in need of most. A high fibre diet has bountiful benefits from controlling blood sugar levels, regular bowel movements to lowering the odds of serious health conditions like Diabetes and Heart Disease.
Verdict: drinking juice will help you hit your basic 5-a-day, but shouldn’t be a substitute for eating whole fruits/vegetables.
CARBS Vs PROTEIN
We certainly have had a love/hate relationship with carbs over the years fuelled by the latest “low-carb” diets and social media tags like #NoCarbsBeforeMarbs hitting our feeds. High protein intake, on the other hand, has been labelled by savvy marketing as king when it comes to food groups.
The experts, however, don’t tend to agree; Danny Commane, a lecturer in nutrition states “unless you’re pursuing extreme exercise or lifestyle goals you don’t need extra protein”. Excess protein is in fact excreted in urine meaning customers who are splashing out on expensive protein products are effectively flushing their money down the drain. A low carb diet has been proven to cause weight loss in the short term, however, there’s also an abundance of scientific research that conveys serious health concerns about adopting one of these (low carb/high protein) diets in the long term. Thomas Campbell MD is one of the biggest names in the nutritional field. In his book “The China Study Solution” he explains how low carb diets put humans at risk of metabolic disease, poorly functioning arteries, a higher rate of cardiovascular disease and even a higher risk of death. Ouch.
Verdict: Give the good old potato a break and get to know your carbs. There’s a huge difference between refined and complex carbohydrates. Always opt for wholegrain/natural products and never eliminate them from your diet completely.
CELERY A NEGATIVE CALORIE FOOD
We’ve all heard people say that when eating a stick of celery you burn more calories in digestion than what’s contained in the food after absorption; unfortunately my friends this is faux. Celery is a fantastic low fat food option, however, there are no reputable studies which prove celery leaves your body in a calorie deficit after eating.
Verdict: At just 6-calories per medium stalk and loaded with essential vitamins there’s no need to hold back, yet dipping your way through a tub of hummus unfortunately doesn’t pass as a light snack.