The Top 10 Health Food Trends: Are They Really All That Good For You?

Just like fashion, food trends come and go, invading our shopping centers and taking control of our wallets and stomachs for a certain amount of time. Thanks to social media, food trends have become even more apparent.

Foodies on Instagram and Facebook continuously update their feed about the latest and greatest food they’ve eaten. Bloggers devote entire articles to food, waxing poetic about the healthy meals they’ve created. Food related television shows fill our channels, feeding the food critic in all of us. In this food-obsessed society, we’ve all become foodies. Unfortunately, many of us are easily fooled by fancy food labels, often refusing to do research on what actually goes inside our stomachs. Lucky for you, we’ve done all the work!

Here’s the lowdown on some of the health food trends that we’ve seen in the past few years: 

1. KOMBUCHA

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The ancient Chinese called Kombucha the “Immortal Health Elixir” because of its health benefits. It is made from sweetened, fermented green or black tea that is lightly effervescent and is used as a functional food.  Although many reports show that Kombucha helps fight cancer and arthritis and aids digestion, these claims have not yet been proven by scientific evidence.

 

2. COCONUT WATER AND COCONUT OIL

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Many athletes drink coconut water as a healthier alternative to isotonic drinks. It keeps them hydrated and has more healthy benefits compared to plain, bottled water. Low in calories, fat and cholesterol, coconut water is a healthy way for athletes to stay hydrated after working out.

Coconut oil, on the other hand, is believed to be a health food that can cure everything. Many health food buffs use coconut oil in cooking and baking nutritious treats. Although there are many claims that coconut water and oil are good for you, most of these claims are just testimonials rather than clinical evidence.

 

3. GREEK YOGHURT

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Considered as a healthier alternative to regular yoghurt, this latest health food sensation is reported to be low in fat and calories but high in protein. What makes Greek yoghurt different from regular yoghurt is the way that it is processed. The whey is strained off from Greek yoghurt, making it healthier, thicker and creamier than regular yoghurt. When purchasing Greek yoghurt, be sure to check the fat content. Some brands of Greek yoghurt can contain up to 16 grams of saturated fat!

 

4. THE PALEO DIET

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The Paleo diet gained a significant following around the same time Crossfit became popular. The Crossfit community swore by the Paleo diet, and claimed that it made them better, faster and stronger. Since then, the diet has gained a wider following, prompting high-end supermarkets and delis to stock up on grass fed beef, gluten/sugar/soy-free beef jerky, kale, grain-free bread, and crackers. The theory behind the Paleo diet is fairly simple–by emulating the diet of our cavemen forefathers, we can live healthier and longer lives.

A Paleo diet includes grass fed meat and hormone free fish as well as pesticide free, organic vegetables and fruits. Although it might sound ideal, experts say that any diet that restricts certain food groups and concentrates on others isn’t balanced enough to be considered healthy.

 

5. THREE-DAY CLEANSES

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A three-day juice fast or cleanse means limiting your diet to only fresh fruit, vegetable juices, and water. These juices must always be freshly made, unpasteurized and should contain about 1,000-1,200 calories. Many people choose to do cleanses for detoxification or to lose weight. However, like many fad diets, a three-day juice cleanse is not an effective way to lose weight.

 

6. GLUTEN-FREE

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Gluten-free cuisine consists of food that excludes gluten from its ingredients. Gluten is a composite protein found in wheat and similar grains such as barley and rye. Lately, people have been switching to a gluten-free diet because they believe that it will help them lose weight and improve their health. Experts say, however, that there is no proven benefit for turning gluten-free except for individuals who actually need to exclude it from their diet for health reasons. In fact, many gluten-free foods contain fewer vitamins, less fiber and more sugar.

 

7. CHIA SEEDS

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Used by the Mayans and Aztecs as an energy booster, this superfood contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, anti-oxidants, and calcium. One ounce or two tablespoons of chia seeds contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and 11 grams of fiber. These seeds are usually added to food and beverages, sprinkled on cereal, salads, yoghurt and smoothies. Unfortunately, the evidence on the benefits of chia is still limited.

 

8. ALMOND MILK

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Studies about the prevalence of lactose intolerance have people all over the world cutting down on drinking milk or switching to alternatives such as almond milk. Cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium free, almond milk is touted to be the number one contender for the best healthy milk substitute. An ounce of almonds (23 nuts) has 6 grams of protein, vitamins and minerals. However, a glass of almond milk only has 4 almonds and a large percentage of water. If you enjoy the taste of almonds, almond milk is perfect for you. However, it is probably not much healthier than a glass of regular milk.

 

9. BULLETPROOF/UPGRADED COFFEE

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Bulletproof coffee is an adaptation of the yak butter tea cloud that computing pioneer Dave Asprey tried while climbing the Himalayas.  He claimed that the tea gave him extreme clarity and energy. This prompted him to recreate the drink using coffee. Since then, it has become the new power drink for athletes, celebrities and many others. Bulletproof coffee is a mixture of high quality coffee, one to two tablespoons of unsalted, grassfed butter and 1-2 tablespoons of medium chain triglyceride oil (MCTs).  It is suggested as a breakfast replacement, and claims to remove cravings, promote weight loss and have a “massive impact on cognitive function”. However, you should remember that replacing one of your daily meals with coffee and fat could deprive you of your daily nutritional requirements.

 

10. COLD PRESSED JUICE

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What makes cold pressed juice so special? According to cold pressed juice advocates, these juices contain more nutritional benefits such as vitamins, minerals and enzymes that may be lacking in your typical smoothie. To get the maximum amount of nutrients out of the pulp and fiber, the fruits and vegetables are “pressed” instead of shredded. However, research shows that eating actual fruits and vegetables is far more beneficial than juices, fulfilling your daily fiber intake requirements and helping you feel more satiated.

 

Before giving in to a health food trend, make sure you do your research. Although succumbing to temptation is OK every once in awhile, do try to keep it to a minimum and maintain a balanced diet. Your body will thank you for it!

 

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