Food is such an enjoyable aspect of life and forms a large part of bonding, celebrating and socialising with others. However, in today’s world certain foods and styles of eating are no longer just a source of nourishment or enjoyment, instead they are trends and in some cases a way of living. In this regard, trends can be both beneficial and detrimental to health. To help clear confusion when it comes to food trends, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of some of the health trends causing the greatest stir:
Cauliflower undoubtedly rose to fame hand in hand with and partly thanks to the Paleo movement. Cauliflower is no longer known as the vegetable most likely pushed to the side of the plate. It now takes many different forms ie
cauliflower rice, roast cauliflower (move over french fries), mashed cauliflower and even cauliflower pizza. The demand for this white gem is full steam ahead and is definitely not a fad. The crush on cauliflower is here to stay and rightfully so. Cauliflower in replace of refined white carbs offers a plethora of health benefits including:
- High source of dietary fibre
- Rich vitamin C content
- Lower-carbohydrate content and less likely to spike blood sugar levels making it better for the waist line and appetite regulation
- A member of the cruciferous family famous for their beneficial liver detox effects
If you’re keen to get on the cauliflower bandwagon, give it ago, it may become your new favourite! Best of all replacing refined grains in part with cauliflower is the easiest and most delicious way to help make vegetables the focus of meals!
Grass-fed beef sounds healthy but it is actually healthier for us and the environment? The short answer is Yes and here is why:
Grass-fed means cattle have been raised and fed in grass pastures for a specific period of time. And taking it one step further grass-fed and finished means the cattle have lived their entire life off grass. Conversely, grain-fed means the cattle live off grain-based feeds (eg corn or soy based) this can increase the fat content and sway the fatty acid profile. Grain feed can also contain antibiotics and hormones used to increase growth rates.
Reported health benefits of grass-fed beef as compared to grain-fed include:
- Higher in total conjugated linoleic acid isomers and omega-3 fatty acids (essential fats with an anti-inflammatory effect)
- Better omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (omega-3 being anti-inflammatory)
- Higher in precursors for Vitamin A and E
- Higher in anti-oxidants such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase activity (important to prevent free-radical damage)
- Lower in overall fat content
How to tell the difference? Grass-fed beef can have a yellowish appearance from the elevated carotenoid content and a distinct flavour due to the grass diet. Next time you’re at the butcher, give grass-fed a go, it is better for your health and your tastebuds will be sure to agree!
Bone broth has become a daily ritual for some health foodies and its increasing popularity has landed it on the starters page of some restaurant menus. Bone broth is a rich source of essential amino acids and minerals. Generally, we tend to focus our meat consumption on muscle meats and miss out on a lot of goodness from other parts of the animal. Sipping on bone broth is a way to make sure we are getting the other beneficial parts of the animal. If the thought of sipping broth straight does not appeal, try using bone broth as the base of casseroles and soups for an added nutrient boost!
Top benefits of bone broth include:
- Rich source of glutamine important for gut health
- Source of glycine required for liver detoxification
- Source of arginine necessary for immune function and wound healing
- Source of collagen for anti-aging benefits
There is however a down side of over doing bone broth. Interestingly, bones are believed to sequester the heavy metal lead. The slow-cooking preparation of bone broth can lead to mobilisation of lead from the bones; this is most predominant in chicken-bone broth. Thus, quality is important, try sourcing bones from organically raised animals where possible. And just like everything else in life, moderation is key!
Acai Berry Bowls
Acai berry bowls are dominating the breakfast scene but are they truly worth the hype? Acai berry is packed with 19 different amino acids, fibre, calcium, vitamins and phytochemicals (anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins). Acai further offers a unique blend of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids providing ultimate nutrition.
Whilst acai itself is a beneficial dietary addition, the downside to these bowls can be their high-sugar content. Various “natural” sources of sugar are added to make these bowls taste great and are often not balanced in terms of fats and proteins. This can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and poor appetite control. If you are out and about or making acai bowls are home, opt for a version low in added sugar and one, which includes a protein source (eg nut butter). Overall acai bowls may be a good post-work out option high in carbohydrates and anti-oxidants for repair and refuel but not an everyday breakfast.
Don’t get lost in the title of raw desserts, raw doesn’t always mean healthy. Raw desserts can be loaded with sugar disguised as “dates, coconut sugar, coconut nectar and agave syrup.” Whilst “natural” per se, they are a perfect example of where too much of a good thing can be detrimental and send blood sugar soaring. I give the green light to raw desserts in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet, but definitely not an excuse to go overboard. If you are trying to spot a better raw dessert look for one that incorporates a source of fibre and fat eg avocado mousse, this will help keeping blood sugar levels more stable and counts towards your fruit and vegetable intake at the same time!
Fads and trends that put the spotlight on wholefoods (as we saw with cauliflower) will always be beneficial for health. Learning to eat real foods as opposed to refined processed foods is a rewarding step towards health. Viewing trends as healthier options to not so healthy treats as opposed to an excuse to indulge is an important realisation. Finally, try to not overdo a fad just because it is perceived as healthy; balance will always be the key to achieving a healthy body and mind!
Daley, C et al 2010, ‘A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef,’ Nutr J, Vol. 10, No. 9.
Monro, J et al 2013, ‘The risk of lead contamination in bone broth diets,’ Med Hypotheses, Vol. 80, No. 4, pp. 389-90.