New Delhi: The craze for fitness seems to be taking quite a toll on the health of young and old alike, affecting the food choices they make and altering their eating patterns. The fact is that most packaged foods that are emblazoned with the words like 'organic', 'low-fat', 'no-added-sugar', 'all-natural', etc, are, for the most part, just sneaky marketing jargon.
While there have been overwhelming shreds of evidence that better dietary choices could prevent many health conditions, including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, most packaged foods that are labelled or plastered with health-related claims consistently fall short in the nutritional department.
Here, we have listed five foods that are often called 'superfoods' claiming to have a myriad of health benefits but aren't all that super:
Touted to have all kinds of health benefits, including protection against Alzheimer's and cardiovascular disease, due to medium chain saturated fatty acids, coconut oil doesn't seem to live up to its hype. Actually consuming coconut oil may raise total cholesterol since it contains a high amount of saturated fat.
There are a number of health benefits associated with the consumption of honey, from preventing cancer to easing cough and colds, from relieving arthritic-related discomfort to healing burns, among many others.
But it has been proven that eating too much sugar in any form is bad for your health, which includes means natural sources like honey, maple syrup, or any type of natural sweetener. In fact, some experts point out that honey can contain traces of flower pollen - an allergen.
With the popularity of almond milk on the rise, many people assume that it provides the same benefits as whole nuts. Like any other nuts, almonds are rich in protein, antioxidants, fibre, and minerals. But since almond milk is made from blanched skinless almonds, a lot of the nutrition is lost during processing. Although most brands of fortified almond milk have calcium and vitamin D added, it does not give nearly the same benefits as whole almonds. In fact, it's not even close.
Milk contains valuable nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin D, protein – which are all good for your body. However, a research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed that people who drank three glasses or more a day (680ml) were twice as likely to die early than those who consumed less.
Some researchers believe that the fat content of milk can contribute to an increased risk of heart attack.
Also, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association from Harvard suggested that milk consumption was tied to weight gain and digestive distress such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Sea salt is often promoted as being healthier because it contains extra minerals. The truth is that sea salt has the same basic nutritional value as table salt, and both contain comparable amounts of sodium by weight. The main differences between them are in their taste, texture and processing. So, if you have been asked to limit sodium, you have to restrict your intake of sea salt as well.
The reality is that there is no legal or official definition for 'superfood'. Superfoods are loosely defined as foods that are packed with essential nutrients - antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals – and eating them may boost overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. With superfood claims on the rise, it can be confusing for consumers to separate the hype from the truth about foods.
What's important is that you should eat a variety of foods, mainly focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, as part of a balanced diet, rather than concentrating on a specific food.