Doesn’t it seem like there’s a new health trend every week? Once upon a time it was coconut oil. These days, everyone is raving about kombucha and avocado. But, when a food is placed on a pedestal, it gets more credit than it deserves. Yes, it’s true. Some superfoods are overrated.
That’s not to say that they aren’t healthy. Superfoods can be part of a nutritious diet. But, that holds true for most foods. When something becomes trendy, it’s basically worshiped.
This trendiness also makes a superfood seem like a cure. Sure, it has benefits, but moderation is key. Too much of anything can actually backfire. Need proof? These five superfoods prove that you can’t judge a food by its fame.
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil became the “head honcho” of oils, thanks to its medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs. Your body uses MCTs as energy instead of storing them, and they won’t spark insulin resistance or inflammation.1 2 Plus, coconut oil is mostly made of an antibacterial MCT called lauric acid.3
But if you break it down, coconut oil is high in saturated fat, something most people don’t realize. In 2017, the American Heart Association even released an advisory about it. Like butter and beef, coconut oil raises “bad” LDL cholesterol, a major risk factor for heart disease.4
The final verdict? Depending on the person, occasionally eating coconut oil won’t hurt. People with normal cholesterol levels can get away with moderate intake. However, those at risk for heart disease should steer clear of this “miracle” food.
2. Red Wine
Alcohol rarely gets a stamp of approval. So when the benefits of red wine came to light, drinking seemed slightly healthier.
Red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes. It relaxes blood vessels, fights platelet accumulation, and boosts “good” HDL cholesterol. Together, these benefits reduce heart disease risk.5
But, red wine is still alcohol! Too much of it increases the risk for inflammation, platelet aggregation, low HDL cholesterol, and liver disease.6
Stick to one or two glasses each day. When part of a healthy and active lifestyle, red wine is a great choice.
3. Bone Broth
Bone broth is made by simmering animal joints in water, a process that releases collagen, minerals, and amino acids. The liquid is both hydrating and tasty! It’s so popular that you can buy it in individual “juice” boxes as well.
Unfortunately, bones can also accumulate lead.7 Store-bought versions are also likely to have unnecessary sodium, artificial flavoring, and coloring.
Again, in moderation, bone broth can be part of a healthy diet. Read the label carefully, or just make your own.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, has been used for thousands of years. According to a 2004 study, it enhances insulin sensitivity and reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes.8
Trying to lose weight? ACV also slows down gastric emptying, helping you stay full and eat less. This translates to a lower risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.9
Despite its benefits, ACV isn’t a miracle cure. It doesn’t prevent type 2 diabetes by itself! Exercising and healthy eating still take the cake.
Furthermore, the type of ACV also matters. Processing destroys all the “good stuff,” so it’s best to avoid pasteurized apple cider vinegar, which is found in most groceries. Raw, organic versions have more acetic acid, beneficial enzymes, and antioxidants.10
ACV makes for a great salad dressing or marinade. Otherwise, a spoonful a day won’t keep diabetes (or any other disease) away.
Kombucha combines fermentation and tea, two health superstars. It’s packed with nutrients and probiotics, or “good” bacteria.11 But it’s possible for bad strains to grow, leading to gastrointestinal problems like nausea and vomiting.12
But, then there’s sugar. Like most bottled drinks, sugar is often added for extra flavor, so read the label. Always buy kombucha from a reputable brand or source.
Moral of the story? Don’t blindly follow a trend and do lots of research. At the very least, remember good health is a lifestyle – not a miracle food.
|↑1||Amarasiri, W. A. L. D., and A. S. Dissanayake. “Coconut fats.” (2006).|
|↑2||McCarty, Mark F., and James J. DiNicolantonio. “Lauric acid-rich medium-chain triglycerides can substitute for other oils in cooking applications and may have limited pathogenicity.” Open heart 3, no. 2 (2016): e000467.|
|↑3||Dayrit, Fabian M. “The properties of lauric acid and their significance in coconut oil.” Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society 92, no. 1 (2015): 1-15.|
|↑4||Advisory: Replacing saturated fat with healthier fat could lower cardiovascular risks. American Heart Association.|
|↑5||Saleem, TS Mohamed, and S. Darbar Basha. “Red wine: a drink to your heart.” Journal of cardiovascular disease research 1, no. 4 (2010): 171-176.|
|↑6||Djoussé, Luc, and J. Michael Gaziano. “Alcohol consumption and heart failure: a systematic review.” Current atherosclerosis reports 10, no. 2 (2008): 117-120.|
|↑7||Monro, J. A., R. Leon, and B. K. Puri. “The risk of lead contamination in bone broth diets.” Medical hypotheses 80, no. 4 (2013): 389-390.|
|↑8||Johnston, Carol S., Cindy M. Kim, and Amanda J. Buller. “Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes Care 27, no. 1 (2004): 281-282.|
|↑9||Kondo, Tomoo, Mikiya Kishi, Takashi Fushimi, Shinobu Ugajin, and Takayuki Kaga. “Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects.” Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 73, no. 8 (2009): 1837-1843.|
|↑10||Štornik, Aleksandra, Barbara Skok, and Janja Trček. “Comparison of cultivable acetic acid bacterial microbiota in organic and conventional apple cider vinegar.” Food technology and biotechnology 54, no. 1 (2016): 113.|
|↑11||Teoh, Ai Leng, Gillian Heard, and Julian Cox. “Yeast ecology of Kombucha fermentation.” International journal of food microbiology 95, no. 2 (2004): 119-126.|
|↑12||Srinivasan, Radhika, Susan Smolinske, and David Greenbaum. “Probable gastrointestinal toxicity of kombucha tea.” Journal of general internal medicine 12, no. 10 (1997): 643-645.|