This is a guest blog post by Toby Amidor RD. It originally appeared here.
Every few week there’s a new superstar food claiming to be the answer to our health concerns. Before you jump on the latest food craze bandwagon, do some digging to assess whether it’s really craze worthy. These latest 5 foods may be healthy, but their benefits are over-hyped.
Tart Cherry Juice
Touted as a powerful anti-inflammatory, athletes in particular have gone crazy for this stuff. Supporters claim it can reduce muscle pain and aid in recovery. While there is research to support these claims, it doesn’t negate its high caloric and sugar content. It can be an appropriate supplement for active folks, but those with diabetes or insulin resistance should steer clear. And not all juices are created equal. Look for a brand that is made with 100% juice and doesn’t contain any unnecessary added sugars.
My advice: If weight control or diabetes is a concern, you’re better off choosing with modest portions of salmon or ginger to help reduce inflammation.
There’s no doubt these seeds are nutritious. But you may get more than you bargained for when these little seeds are mixed into sugar-laden drinks and granola bars. Although they do contribute healthy fat and protein, it won’t offset added sugars and artificial ingredients.
My advice: Stick to the seeds on their own, and if the hefty price tag has you cringing, you can find just as much nutrition in less expensive flax seeds.
Thought to increase energy and improve digestion, this fermented tea can be found on most grocery store shelves next to the iced teas and lemonades. Although it seems to be safe for healthy folks, those with a compromised immune system (like older adults and pregnant women) should be careful. Findings show that kombucha may sometimes be contaminated with fungus. Each serving (typically half a bottle or 8 fluid ounces) contains about 8 grams of sugar, so as with any beverage containing sugar, you need to be mindful of portion size. As for the health claims made, there actually hasn’t been a single human trial done to support or disprove these.
My advice: If you’re looking for kombucha’s proclaimed health benefits, turn to yogurt, kefir, and green or black tea instead.
Green juices and smoothies are popping up everywhere, with some stores being completely dedicated to brewing up green concoctions. Buyers beware, however, liquid calories can add up quickly. Juices are also stripped of much of the fiber and vitamins (which are easily destroyed during the juicing process). As for smoothies, pay attention to the other ingredients added. Many stores and companies add high amounts of sweeteners and other sugary ingredients.
My advice: Enjoy a green smoothie with no added sugar on occasion. You’re better off tossing a variety of greens together in a salad or sauteed as an easy side.
For those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, eliminating gluten from your diet is necessary. But for the rest of the population who sees gluten-free as the next big diet craze, swapping out everything for its gluten-free alternative may do more harm than good. Since gluten-free products tend to be higher in calories and fat their gluten-filled counterparts, you may end up gaining weight! And sorry to say, but a cookie is still a cookie.
My advice: Choose modest portions of whole grains and steer clear of processed junk food with or without gluten.
TELL ME: What’s your take on these over-hyped foods?