Myth Busting: 5 Foods You Think Are Healthy But A Dietitian Doesn’t

There’s so many food options out there that we’re always seeking for the healthier alternative. But are those options really as healthy as you think they are? NJF Wellness Centre Dietitian, Tyson Tripcony shares the 5 foods that really aren’t giving you the health boost as you thought they were.

health-foodsimage via pinterest

Acai bowls

Acai bowls are touted as the best superfood/best breakfast/best brunch/best snack you could possible ever eat. Acai bowls are usually loaded to the 9’s with the Acai, but also with fruit, coconut, nuts, seeds and other “superfoods”. I do understand that people may look at these at first glance and thinking they are healthy, but as a dietitian I do not. Sure, it has fruit, nuts, seeds – fibre, carbs, some protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, but the big thing is it has A LOT of food and kilojoules in one bowl. It terms of kilojoules, many are about the equivalent of eating a cheese and bacon burger. It is true that the kilojoules in an Acai bowl mostly comes from natural nutrient rich foods, however too much of anything is not advised.

Coconut Oil

Coconut “oil” is heavy in saturated fat, and although the research now shows that saturated fat isn’t as bad for your heart health as we once thought, that doesn’t mean it is good for you. Alternative oils such Extra Virgin Olive Oil actually have a cardio-protective effect when consumed regularly in moderate amounts. The same cannot be said for coconut oil. Like all fats, coconut oil is also very calorie dense. Which means that the more you consume it the more you are adding huge amounts of kilojoules your body may not need, and will actually lead to a calorie surplus and a subsequent increase in body weight.

Cacao

Seen to be the world’s answer for chocoholics wanting a ‘healthy’ fix of chocolate. WRONG. Let’s break it down.
Using a popular food database you can do a breakdown of the two products Cacao powder versus Cocoa powder.

Cacao powder (‘super food’) per 100g contains around 1000kJ, 27g of protein, 11g of fat, 16g of carbohydrates.

Cocoa powder (non-‘super food’) per 100g contains 1400kJ, 24g protein, 14g fat, 20g carbs

As you can see, there isn’t a huge difference between the two. Sure, you have a higher protein content, and slightly lower fat and carbohydrate content but in the grand scheme they aren’t really that far apart. Delve deeper and look at different brands of Cacao powder and the values get even closer to Cocoa powder.

Cacao is marketed as full of antioxidants etc., and this is somewhat true, but if you buy chocolate products that are 60-70% or more of cocoa you are going to get those same antioxidant benefits.

What you are paying for when you spend 5 times the amount on cacao products is hype, not health benefits. Don’t be fooled by the hype, go eat some regular dark chocolate instead.

Almond Milk

Your standard non-fortified almond milk is often nothing more than flavoured (often sweetened) water. Just have a look at the nutritional panel next time you are scouring the shelves. You will find it has little protein content, little fat content and the carb content slightly less than normal milk. Be sure to tcheck the ingredients list which will help tell you the percentage of almonds in it. Most almond milks have 3% almonds or less offer little additional nutritional benefit unless they are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Look for a brand with at least 10% almonds, which will contribute to your daily protein requirements.

The only time I would ever recommend someone to drink almond milk on a regular basis would be someone who cannot tolerate normal dairy products or was vegan. Even then, I would promote fortified soy milk (for the protein particularly) as a dairy alternative, over almond milk.

If you enjoy the flavour of almond milk in your coffee or smoothie, go for it. But if you are doing it for health, you’re on the wrong path.

Juices

Although juices often have a great variety of fruits and vegetables, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you are often missing one of the most important nutrients that fruits and vegetables provide; fibre. Juicing also increases the glycaemic index (release of sugar into your bloodstream) of the food, as it is taking out the fibrous parts of the fruits and veg which help to slow the breakdown and absorption of the natural fruit sugars. This can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and the all telling “sugar crash” so many of you say you experience.

On top of that, you will easily be able to juice 4 apples, 3 oranges, 4 sticks of celery, a heaped handful of spinach and drink it within 10min. Now logistically think about it and tell me if you could eat the all of that food without juicing it.

 

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