The wellness industry is built on the myth of “bad” and “good” foods. This concept is created by followers of restrictive diets, for example, the raw food activist David Wolfe came up with the concept of “superfoods” back in the nineties. Many celebrities started to popularize the dubious idea that the basis of a healthy diet must include only certain foods that supposedly have a lot of health benefits and can’t harm health. However, such a diet which consists of a strict set of products (even very healthy ones) doesn’t bring additional benefits and can even harm health. Let’s review the most popular, but completely overrated foods.
1. Egg whites
Egg whites are the richest source of protein, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B2. All these substances are extremely important for health. They maintain heart and blood vessel health and improve the immune system function. However, many people believe that egg yolks, unlike egg whites, are harmful since they are rich in fats and increase cholesterol levels which can cause cardiovascular diseases.
In fact, one egg yolk contains only two grams of saturated fats and three grams of unsaturated fats including essential omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, egg yolks contain calcium, folic acid, vitamins A, B6, B12, and D, and also help your body properly absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Therefore, eating only egg whites is pointless, it’s better to eat whole eggs to get the full health benefits.
2. Freshly squeezed juice
Many people are convinced that juices are no less healthy than the fruits, berries, and vegetables from which they are made. They believe drinking fresh apple is like eating a whole apple or even two- getting a double dose of vitamins. Actually, freshly squeezed juice is not as healthy as fruits. When squeezing fruits, they lose fiber which is necessary for digestion and maintaining the intestinal microflora, as well as most vitamins and minerals since they are found in seeds and peel of the fruit.
Liquids are less filling than solid food, causing you to will eat more. Juice detoxification is a popular wellness myth that has already been described in many revealing articles. Healthy liver and kidneys are able to cope with body detoxification without the help of any juice, and if we are talking about specific toxins or poisons, any juice won’t be able to remove them from the body.
Good news is that drinking freshly squeezed juice once a week may improve heart health, decrease inflammation, and lower bad cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of kidney stones.
Yogurt is made of milk or cream (usually pasteurized) by fermentation – the process in which microorganisms eat sugar contained in milk (lactose), actively multiply and produce lactic acid. Yogurt made in this way is healthy since it doesn’t contain sugar, but is rich calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and probiotics that improve digestion.
However, most mass-produced yogurts are not made this way. During heat treatment which is used in mass production of fermented milk products, beneficial bacteria die and can no longer serve as probiotics. Moreover, yogurts with additives contain a lot of sugar which makes them unhealthy. The same applies to non-fat yogurts: in order to preserve the taste of the product, some manufacturers add hidden sugar or sugar substitutes to it. Therefore, try to choose plain yogurt without additives with a medium fat content as this is the most useful sour-milk version of a snack or salad dressing.
Spinach is the favorite food of Popeye the Sailor Man. 100 grams of fresh spinach contains only 7 calories. At the same time, this vegetable is rich in essential substances. Spinach has a lot of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, calcium, folic acid, vitamin A, and iron. Therefore, spinach can help prevent lung, heart, blood vessel, joint, and bone diseases as well as improve digestion. But this doesn’t mean that you need to eat as much spinach as Popeye does.
Fresh spinach contains oxalates. Their excessive accumulation in the body contributes to gout and kidney stones and interferes with proper calcium absorption. This food also contains large quantities of vitamin A which increases the overproduction of sebum in the skin and causes acne. According to Healthline, many home-prepared solid foods including spinach can have too many nitrates that can cause certain health issues, especially in infants.
Granola is filling and high in fiber,which may improve blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and improve gut health. However, granola, like many other kinds of cereal, contain too much sugar to be considered a good breakfast option. Some granolas may have nearly four tablespoons of sugar in one serving. Eating too much sugar can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and dental problems.
6. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is perhaps one of the most controversial modern superfoods. Possible benefits of coconut oil include:
- Controlling blood sugar levels
- Improving hair and skin
- Reducing asthma symptoms
- Reducing stress
- Increasing good cholesterol levels
- Preventing liver disease
- Fighting candida
- Protecting against cavities, improving gingivitis, and normalizing oral bacteria balance
However, coconut oil also has downsides and the most obvious one is the high content of saturated fat. The ability to quickly burn fats and accelerate metabolism, reduce appetite, and improve the nervous system- are still unproven. On the other hand, it is proven that nations that consume large amounts of coconut oil practically don’t suffer from cardiovascular diseases. This oil can also improve skin and hair health.
7. Chicken Breasts
The white meat of chicken or turkey is traditionally considered the most healthy and affordable source of animal protein. With the proliferation of high-protein paleo and the keto diet, people eat meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Although protein is an essential substance for maintaining overall health, according to the recommendations of WHO and many national ministries of health, proteins should make up no more than a quarter of the daily menu. In addition, they do not need to be obtained from products of animal origin and specifically meat. There are a lot of plant-based foods that have high-protein content:
- Tofu, tempeh, and edamame
- Chia seeds
- Mycoprotein (fungus-based protein)
- Hemp seeds
- Ezekiel bread
Adherents of the “Western diet” (the majority of the population of the USA, Great Britain, and many Russians) eating one and a half times more than normal protein every day, and high-protein diets are associated with the risk of bowel disorders, heart diseases, dehydration, kidney damage, and calcium loss. Therefore, it is worth limiting the consumption of meat, including white meat, and try to add more vegetables, fruits, and cereals to the diet.
Eating healthy but monotonous food every day is not a good idea. Moreover, even superfoods in large quantities can harm your health, therefore it’s important to diversify your daily diet in order to get the most benefit and stay healthy for a long time. By the way, foods that can be dangerous for us (they contain a lot of sugar or trans fats) are few and far between.