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Popular Health Foods: Buy or Skip?

It feels like there’s a new diet fad to try out or a new health food to taste test every week. Here’s a breakdown of the most recent crazes and whether or not they’re worth your time and money.

1. KaleKale has exploded on the health food market in recent months with endless recipes and possibilities from kale chips to juice and everything in between. Touted as a “super food,” kale purportedly has high calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C and beta carotene content.

Verdict: Buy. Kale, as a leafy green veggie, definitely has tons of nutritional benefits and is easily incorporated into your diet in smoothies, salads and snacks. That being said, don’t go overboard with it like Jake Gyllenhaal. An all-kale diet sounds both unhealthy and miserable.

2. Maple waterAccording to the DRINKmaple website, maple water is marketed as a “refreshing beverage naturally low in calories, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and non-GMO,” which is all kinds of b.s. In case you didn’t know, regular tap water is all of those things, and doesn’t cost almost $3.50 a bottle.

Verdict: Skip. Although maple water may contain high levels of manganese, which is great for bone and thyroid health, there haven’t been any verifiable scientific studies on the benefits of maple water. You’re better off drinking water and getting those necessary vitamins and minerals from your diet.

3. Greek yogurtGreek yogurt is another of one of those products that could only be found in health food sections of the grocery store before it exploded on the market. Now, aside from regular yogurt, you can find Greek yogurt covered pretzels, granola bars and even yogurt clusters in your cereal. It has double the protein when compared to regular non-strained yogurt.

Verdict: Buy... with discretion. With its high protein content, Greek yogurt is great. (Also, because John Stamos.) Be careful of buying yogurt with lots of fruit jellies and additives because those can raise the sugar content. Also, don’t fall for the “Greek yogurt-covered,” products or the “yogurt flavored,” items... you’re not getting any of the nutritional benefits of actual yogurt.

4. Chia seedsThe seed behind the infamous Chia pets of the 90s, chia seeds are now taking root in our grocery stores. Supposedly, chia seeds are amazing for weight loss and curbing your appetite and contain “super nutrients.”

Verdict: Buy... depending on what results you’re looking for. Chia seeds are great sources of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and protein but don’t actually do much for weight loss according to some studies. They’re a great addition to your diet, but don’t look to them as a cure-all weight-loss aid.

5. Protein barsProtein bars are marketed as great ways to have complete nutrition when you’re on the go or leading an active lifestyle. They also come in a wide variety of appealing flavors that seem like an easy choice for a tasty, quick snack on the go.

Verdict: Buy... with discretion. Protein bars are a great snack if you’re looking for recovery after an intense workout, but be careful with what brand you buy and how often you eat them. A lot of protein bars have the same — if not more — number of calories as candy bars, and it’s easy to eat more than one because they’re sugar and calorie dense. Don’t rely on them as meal replacements, and look for protein bars with more than 20 grams of protein in them.

6. Juice cleansesSupposedly, going on a purely fruit and veggies juice diet is a quick way to shed pounds, “detox” your body and raise your energy levels.

Verdict: Skip. No matter what the commercials tell you, juices do not have the nutritional equivalent of eating fruits and veggies. You lose the fiber and nutrients that come from the flesh of the fruit and you also waste a lot of money on fancy machinery or bottled juices. They are fine every now and then to supplement your diet, but don’t use juices as complete meal replacements for days at a time.

Sometimes it’s easy to fall victim to the hype over popular health food trends, but don’t get caught up in clever marketing scams and celebrity endorsements. Make smart choices about the food you’re eating, and stay healthy!


Photo credit:www.veganyumminess.com

Antara Sinha is a sophomore journalism/pre-med major at the University of Florida. She is a contributing writer for USA Today College, and this is her third semester as a writer for Her Campus UFL. Her interests include health, science and lifestyle writing, and she plans on pursing medical and science journalism.
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