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10 superfoods and why they won’t work for you

brunch Updated: Oct 15, 2016 19:39 IST
Lovneet Batra
Lovneet Batra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nourishment. But when juiced and bottled they transform into liquid candy containing mostly sugar (Getty Images)

It is often confusing to cut through the clutter of claims on foods that can make you lose weight, look younger or be fitter.

Here’s what some popular ‘superfoods’ claim to do, weighed against the benefits they really offer.

Quinoa

Claim: Reduces the risk of high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes.

Reality: Quinoa acts just like other whole grains, such as barley, oats and millets, on these disorders. And any benefits offered by this pseudo cereal (actually a seed) diminish the minute it is processed and turned into quinoa cookies or pastas in its refined form.

White tea

Claim: Since this is the least processed of all teas, made from young leaves and buds, it has a detoxifying effect on the body given its high levels of catechins, and burns fat.

Reality: White tea can be very high in caffeine (sometimes higher than black tea) depending on the blend, quality of tea leaves and steep time. And it definitely does not “burn fat”.

Kale chips

Claim: Kale has high amounts of iron, calcium and antioxidants that help fight against cancers and heart diseases, and support liver health.

Reality: Almost all vegetables have high amounts of antioxidants. And when kale is baked as chips with added fat and salt, it adds up to 260 calories which is quite comparable to the 320 calories in a packet of potato chips.

Goji berry

Claim: This ‘miracle’ fruit is a rich source of vitamin C, which makes it a strong antioxidant.

Reality: It has no real health benefits over more familiar berries, such as strawberries. In fact, you can rely on fresh Indian gooseberry (amla) to have a higher nutrient quotient and identical health benefits.

Cold-pressed juice

Claim: Exposed to minimal heat while juicing the fruits, these are the healthiest forms of juices.

Reality: Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nourishment. But when juiced and bottled they transform into liquid candy containing mostly sugar. Even cold-pressed juices don’t hold on to the vitamins, enzymes and fibre that are present in whole fruits.

Chia seeds

Claim: These tiny seeds are packed with high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. They help keep the gut healthy, fight free radicals and provide fullness.

Reality: All the claims are true, but including them in sugary drinks or puddings is unhealthy.

Gluten-free bread

Claim: It promotes weight loss.

Reality: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. For people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune response to gluten damages the small intestine lining, it results in abdominal pain, bloating, nausea and diarrhoea. However, for others there’s absolutely no evidence that getting rid of gluten will result in weight loss.

Organic sugar

Claim: It’s healthier than regular sugar.

Reality: The ‘organic’ label does not mean the sugar is unprocessed. It only means the produce was grown without chemicals. Both white sugar and organic sugar are chemically recognised as sucrose and contain the same calorie count.

Almond milk

Claim: Almonds are a great source of fibre, vitamin E and help reduce bad cholesterol, blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar.

Reality: The processing that goes into making almond milk dilutes these benefits. Besides, sometimes, too much sugar is added. Also, it offers just 1g protein per cup as compared to cow milk, which gives about eight times the value.

Apple cider vinegar

Claim: One of those products that seems to do it all. It aids digestion, balances body pH, helps weight loss.

Reality: The first two claims are correct, but there is no scientific evidence confirming its direct effect on weight loss. Also, a shot taken on a empty stomach on waking up may not ‘undo’ the effect of last night’s indulgent dinner, but will surely put you at risk of potassium deficiency and low bone density.

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From HT Brunch, October 16, 2016

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