Friday, July 8, 2016

Is superfood really a superfad? The popular 'healthy' products such as cacao and coconut water that aren't worth the hype - and what you SHOULD be eating

We are constantly bombarded with information about the latest superfoods and how they can benefit our lives.
From buckwheat to black pudding, nutritionists have found no end of ingredients to offer body-boosting properties.
However, despite our love affair with kale and chia seeds, many of us are still confused about the benefits behind our so-called healthier choices.

In short, as there's no real definition of what counts as a 'superfood', so it's hardly surprising that we are left feeling super-confused.
However recent research from Fry's Family Foods explores the clean-eating myths and separates fact from fiction...

MYTH 1: GREEN SMOOTHIES - Surely they're the health holy grail? There's no denying they're very instagrammable, have a cult celeb following and help boost your green intake, but blending fruit and veg simply does the job of our mouths during digestion.
In truth, it's best to eat our fruit and veg instead. Interestingly, 78 per cent of us still don't drink green smoothies and five per cent of us drink them as a hangover cure.

MYTH 2: SPIRALIZING RAW FOOD – is more nutritious and can help you lose weight, correct? No doubt spiralizing is a great way to introduce more nutritious, raw veggies into our diets, but raw calories are still calories, portion control still counts. 
Interestingly, some veggies such as carrots, spinach and even tomatoes are more nutritious heated, as it's easier for our bodies to benefit from their protective antioxidants. What's more when asked, over 42 per cent of us still don't know our spiralizers from our spirulina.

MYTH 3: CACAO VS CHOCOLATE - Cacao has superfood status, so it's healthy right? Although rich in antioxidants and known to help lower LDL 'bad' cholesterol levels, Cacao may be closer to nature but it's still high in kilojoules. 
Whilst 46 per cent of Brits recognise cacao as having superfood status over its naughtier neighbour chocolate, over 42 per cent still had no idea quite why it's better for us to eat.

MYTH 4: FRESH vs FROZEN – Eating fresh veg is better than frozen – is it? In fact, fresh isn't always best. Nutrient levels in frozen fruit and veg can be higher than in fresh, as it's often frozen within hours of harvesting so the vitamins are preserved. 
It's a good reason for the almost 40 per cent of us that don't yet know that to stock up on the freezer - guilt-free!

MYTH 5: MATCHA TEA vs BUILDERS TEA – Matcha Tea is the super brew supposedly packed full of nutrients and anioxidants. In fact, Matcha tea, green tea and builders tea (AKA black tea) all come from the same plant: Camellia Sinensis. It’s the shading and production process that makes the difference. 
Although it’s true that Matcha Tea protects cells and genes from those pesky free radicals, has stronger antioxidation ability and contains 40 per cent more EGCG (a polyphenol called epigallocatechin-3-gallate) than any other tea, the good news is that the good old British builders brew also contains enough EGCG’s to send free radicals packing. 
The Health Council of Netherlands goes as far as to recommend leaving your tea bag in for 3-4 minutes and drinking 3-4 cups a day. So put the kettle on!

MYTH 6: COCONUT WATER vs WATER – Coconut water is a better hydrator that H2O. Coconut water is the fastest growing non-alcoholic drink in the UK with Brits spending more than £48million on it. Rhianna apparently loves the stuff, but does coconut water or H2O re-hydrate our bodies better after exercise?
Leading expert in Science Exercise and Hydration, Professor John Brewer, St Mary’s University, Sports Department, Twickenham ran a two-hour trial to find out how effectively the two re-hydrate the body after exercise. 
It may taste refreshing – but it was found there was no major benefit switching water for coconut water. So if you want to keep hydrated in a moderate workout then plain H2O will do just as good a job.
Coconut water may be considered a superfood though for the 10 per cent of us who do over one hour of vigorous exercise per session though, as it has been reported to help replace essential electrolytes like potassium which water cannot do. However there is a much cheaper way to do that - eat a banana.

MYTH 7: PROTEIN POWER – Meat eating is better for us than plant-based eating, right? Despite being dubbed this year's number one food trend, if we thought the merits of protein and 'plant-based eating' had permeated the national psyche, think again. 

When questioned, over 53 per cent of Brits believe it impossible to consume the recommended daily amount of protein on a vegetarian or vegan diet, with 60 per cent saying they had not cut down their meat intake in the last two years, assuming vegetarians to be less healthy than those who eat meat. 

Perhaps the basis for this assumption is the fact that a third of Brits don't actually know where protein comes from.
While 32 per cent could only identify chicken as a source of protein, discounting options like spinach, broccoli and hemp seeds, which actually have more protein gram for gram than chicken or steak.

On that topic, Tammy Fry, International Marketing Director of Fry's Family Foods, who produce a range of frozen vegetarian and vegan products, said: 'It's surprisingly easy, varied and delicious for a vegan/vegetarian diet to meet the daily recommendations for protein, as long as calorie intake is adequate.

'One of the most interesting things about protein is that the body doesn't discriminate between animal and plant-based sources, so the likes of spinach, broccoli, soy, beans and legumes are just as good – if not better – for you than meat.'

He added: 'With no medical or legal definition as to what counts as a superfood, it's unsurprising that we don't always understand their health benefits.

'It is important however, that we don't just follow the latest food trends but actually take the time to understand how and why the likes of kale and quinoa are valuable to our health so that they become an integral part of our diet in the future.'

Unknown by 38 per cent of Brits, frozen foods can be known to have an arguably higher calibre source of protein and superior in nutritional value to fresh produce.

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