Must Know: Is Your Health Food Healthy?

    • Daily Mirror
    • Publish Date: Oct 26 2016 12:44PM
    • |
    • Updated Date: Oct 29 2016 11:55AM
Must Know: Is Your Health Food Healthy?

Here, independent dietitians reveal the truth behind some of the most popular health foods on our supermarket shelves, and separate the fact from the fiction.

Over the past couple of years, there has been an explosion of self-styled wellness bloggers, promoting food ingredients and products that claim to do everything from curing digestive ills to improving heart health and fighting weight gain. So it may come as no surprise that the health food market across the world is more buoyant than ever. It's easy to be seduced by polished Instagram photos of dairy-free smoothies and "healthy" cakes sweetened with lashings of maple syrup. But do these foods represent a lifestyle change we all need, or are we wasting our money on expensive ingredients and products that don't live up to the health hype? 

 
 

COCONUT OIL
Health hype: There's a myriad of health claims for coconut oil, from reducing cholesterol to aiding weight loss and boosting immunity.
The truth: Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton says: "Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat and too much of this in your diet is unhealthy because it raises 'bad' LDL cholesterol. "It's argued that coconut oil boosts 'good' HDL cholesterol, but there's no evidence it supports heart health. We don't know if certain sat fats, including coconut oil, are as harmless as some think - it's being considered by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. The best thing to do is follow low saturates advice - coconut oil doesn't fall into that category. It's also hugely expensive."
Verdict: Carrie says: "We need studies that look at it objectively. Use British rapeseed oil, a healthy fat with omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids."
 
 
 
 

MAPLE SYRUP
Health hype: Touted as a healthier natural alternative to cane sugar, maple syrup is said to be more nutritious than regular sugar because it contains antioxidants.
The truth: Dietitian Dr Sarah Schenker says: "It's still sugar. All you're getting is a different flavour and any health benefits that are talked about are insignificant - the nutrients are present in such tiny amounts. So have it and enjoy it, but don't think it's a licence to pour it over everything you eat. View it as a treat. "But don't go to the effort of making healthy low-sugar buckwheat and blueberry pancakes then drowning them in maple syrup believing it's healthy - it's not. You may as well cover it in Tate & Lyle!"
Verdict: Carrie says: "Maple syrup still counts as sugar and, as a nation, that's something we should be trying to reduce in our diets."

 
 

VITAMIN WATERS
Health hype: Flavoured waters with added vitamins and other nutrients.
The truth: Sarah says: "Why are you drinking them - is your diet not good enough? If you're eating well, you don't need to buy expensive water fortified with vitamins when you can get nutrients from food.
"Whether you choose a sugar-free version or not, it shouldn't be taken in place of a nutritious diet. If you don't like plain water, make it more interesting by adding slices of lemon and lime, plus mint leaves."
Carrie adds: "Be aware some of these drinks may count as low sugar per 100ml, but come as a 500ml bottle."
Verdict: Carrie says: "If you're worried about your diet, get vitamins from a daily A-Z supplement, which you can get cheap from supermarkets. It's better for your teeth than a 500ml sugary water."

 

 

ALMOND MILK

Health hype: Touted as a "healthier" alternative to cow's milk by the clean-eating brigade, as well as an alternative to dairy if you're vegan or lactose intolerant.
The truth: Sarah says: "Dairy-free milks like almond are great if you're lactose intolerant or avoid dairy for ethical reasons. "You might also choose almond milk if you're looking for a different flavour to add to smoothies. For example, the nutty taste works well with bananas and other fruits. "However, it's not a match for the protein or calcium content of dairy milk, which also contains lots of other nutrients. Dairy-free milks have calcium added to match cow's milk and are fortified with vitamins, too."
Verdict: FACT and FAD. Sarah says: "Choose it if you like the flavour and if it'll encourage you to make a nutritious smoothie, but don't buy it because you think it's a healthier alternative."
 

 

FROZEN YOGHURT
Health hype: A guilt-free, low-fat alternative to ice cream.
The truth: Sarah says: "Look at the level of sugar. The closer sugar is to the top of the ingredients list, the more it contains. Plain yoghurt has around one teaspoon of natural sugar (5g per 100g) and you can allow another 2-3g if it contains fruit, but if you see 15-20g per 100g, you know a lot has been added. "Sweet frozen yoghurt may have more protein than ice cream, but not enough to make a difference. "Freezing plain yoghurt and adding berries or puree would be healthier. Or if you just love ice cream, have a small scoop of a rich variety and enjoy it, rather than eat half a tub of sweet frozen yoghurt."
Verdict: Sarah says: "Look for brands with the least added sugar or none at all."
 


 

GRANOLA
Health hype: Clusters of oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, it has a reputation as the "healthy person's cereal".
The truth: Sarah says: "The glue that holds granola together is sugar, whether that's glucose, honey or syrup. There's definitely a healthy aspect to it - fibre from the oats and healthy fats from nuts and seeds - but watch portion size.
"Add a couple of tablespoons to high-protein yoghurt instead of having a big bowl of it with a splash of milk (unless you're training for a half marathon!). Also, you don't need a big plate of carbs in the morning. Poached or scrambled eggs would be a better breakfast - they are protein rich and keep you fuller for longer."
Verdict:Carrie says: "Use it as a topping for porridge, yoghurt or fruit. It usually has butter or oil in it, so look for the total calories if you're watching your weight. Choose one that's high in fibre, so you can aim for 30g fibre per day."

 

 

PROBIOTIC DRINKS & YOGHURTS

Health hype: Live bacteria added to one-shot drinks or yoghurts to promote friendly gut bacteria, improving digestive health and immunity.
The truth: Sarah says: "Science shows these products do what they say, reaching the gut without being destroyed by stomach acid to boost numbers of friendly bacteria. Beneficial if your immunity is compromised and you're vulnerable to infections, if you've been ill or if you've been on antibiotics."
Carrie adds: "Go for a reputable brand that spends money on research to ensure the bacteria will get to your colon. Studies have shown strains of bacteria can help diarrhoea and intestinal infections, lower blood glucose and combat constipation."
Verdict: Sarah says: "I would drink these if I was on antibiotics or if I went into hospital and was at risk of infection. I'd also recommend them to older people and IBS sufferers."

 
Which are the health foods you swear by? What are the fads you follow? Register to post your comment
 

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Comments

Ritvik Baweja Bal Bharati Public School

I believe just by dieting and fixed food pattern won''t help even just relying on healthy food won''t help. We must excercise as well.

Mansi Borade PADUA HIGH SCHOOL-MANKHURD

IF USE CLEANLINESS IN ALL WORK AND BY LIVING FAR AWAY FROM GERMS FOOD OR OUT SIDE FOOD OUR HEALTH CAN BE FIT AND FINE AND ALSO GOOD HEALTH.

Mansi Borade PADUA HIGH SCHOOL-MANKHURD

AND IF WE WANT GERMS TO GET DESTROY WE SHOULD CHANGE OUR BAD HABITS LIKE SPITTING,LITTERING AT OPEN PLACE,THROWING GARBAGE HER AND THERE,ETC.THEN OUR HEALTH WILL AUTOMATICALLY GET HEALTHY.

Hiya Kilam global indian internatonal school

Fruits and vegetables are considered healthy by me. Exercise too plays a very important role in keeping healthy.

Bhawna Goel HAMDARD PUBLIC SCHOOL(SANGAM VIHAR)

Bhawna goel HAMDARD PUBLIC SCHOOL WATERMELON-“Recently I have been fueling my post-workout recovery with watermelon. This delicious fruit helps replenish depleted glycogen stores and refuels my tired muscles. Since watermelon has high water and electrolyte content, sometimes I’ll even throw back a homemade watermelon drink—made by blending pieces of watermelon with ice

Himanshi Dhawan Saffron Public School

All that glitters is not gold. Very often, we get certain healthy food that are considered extremely good for your body. My uncle is diabetic. From the past two years, he has been taking "Sugar Free". But sadly, instead of helping him with the problem, it led to complications. The doctor then revealed that sugar free doesn''t lower sugar instead worsens the condition of the patient. So, remember 70% exercise and 30% diet can make you stay healthy and fit.

Vishnu Varthan J Bethel Mat Hr Sec School

All foods which obtained from the nature are healthy food.

saishalini Bethel Mat Hr Sec School

I believe that naturally available and organic foods devoid of insecticides and pesticides are responsible of a healthy and prosperous life and also fresh fruit juices and nuts also add for the better life.

Linet Christina Thomas Ryan International School Nallasopara

In my house we believe in eating in according to season. Whatever is available in our local places it is best for the people who live there. And physical activities must for everybody.

kaviya.s Bethel Mat Hr Sec School

We must be cautious towards intake of food. We must maintain a healthy diet. Some people get diabetic at very young . Because of skipping the breakfast.

Aditi Sahi D C MODEL SCH PKL-SEC-7

This is eye opener.I don''t follow any specific diet but eat Ghar ka Khaana and do exercise.

Mansi Borade PADUA HIGH SCHOOL-MANKHURD

THE CLEAN PERSON IS NOT THE ONE THAT RUN AWAY FROM DIRT BUT ONE WHO TAKES THE TIME AND TO TIDY-UP A DIRTY ENVIRONMENT.AND ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS.

Neha Varadharajan The Orbis School

Ritvik is right. We must live a healthy lifestyle altogether.

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