Debunking Popular Health Foods

Avocado toast, smoothie bowls and green juices all have one thing in common: they are popular “health” foods that have become increasingly trendy over the past couple of years. Whether scrolling through a “foodstagram” or stopping into a trendy health restaurant, these items are sure to be seen. These foods are often on the pricier side, claiming to have unique health benefits, but are they actually worth it?

VALLEY is here to investigate whether or not these trendy “healthy foods” are worth the hype.

Avocado Toast
The Good:

Avocados contain high levels of healthy monounsaturated fats, which according to the American Heart Association, can lower cholesterol levels and even reduce risk of heart disease. This fruit is also jam-packed with fiber, a nutrient many people do not get enough of. Whole wheat breads, which are typically used for avocado toast, contain complex carbohydrates, fiber and protein, which are all beneficial as well.

The Bad:

Avocados are extremely high in calories, and when over-consumed, the levels of fat are high as well. If you are consuming several avocados per day, it is easy to overdo your recommended daily calorie limit. Additionally, if you use white bread, you are basically eating empty calories that provide little to no benefit for you.

The Verdict:

Avocado toast is a great snack or meal, when consumed in moderation. Be sure to use whole wheat bread and just one serving size of avocado for the most health benefits. In addition, stay away from olive oil and other additives that have little health benefits. If you are looking to spice up your toast, consider adding eggs, fruit or even a simple seasoning.

Smoothie Bowls
The Good:

A bowl packed full of fruit, seeds and other typically ingredients seems too healthy to be true. The truth is, a lot of the ingredients in smoothie bowls are actually very healthy. Fruits such as berries contain antioxidants that are very helpful for overall health. Nut butters such as peanut butter, a popular topping, are also packed with good fats and protein. All of these ingredients are great, but the trouble comes when too many of them are combined.

The Bad:

Fruit, granola, coconut and honey are all popular smoothie bowl toppings, but they also have high sugar levels. Once again, all of these items aren’t that bad for you when by themselves, but put them together, and you have a supposedly “healthy” meal that likely double or triples the recommended amount of sugar one should consume per day.

The Verdict:

Smoothie bowls are certainly not the worst thing for you, but they shouldn’t really become a staple part of your diet. In order to maximize the health benefits, choose toppings that are relatively low in added sugars, such as fresh fruit or natural nut butters.

Green Juices
The Good:

Green juices can be a great way to get your daily veggies in. With main ingredients typically including spinach or kale, it is easy to get many of the same benefits, but in a quicker, more on-the-go fashion. Be sure that if you are purchasing a pre-made juice that your desired green is the first ingredient on the list, as nutrition labels typically have ingredients in descending order.

The Bad:

Drinking a glass of pure ground up spinach doesn’t sound appealing to most, but added sweeteners are where these popular juices can go from super healthy to a sugar-packed treat. While a serving size of fruit won’t do too much harm, added juices such as apple or pineapple juice can make added sugar levels skyrocket. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that men only consumer 37 grams of added sugars per day, and just 25 grams for women. It is very easy to drink this entire daily limit in one “health” juice if you aren’t too careful.

The Verdict:

Most green juices on the market today are packed full off veggies, but also a good amount of unwanted sugar. In order to make sure you know exactly what is in your juice, it’s a good idea to consider making your own at home. Consider adding natural sweeteners such as fresh fruit instead of honey or sugary juices.

While none of these “trendy” health foods are too bad for you, like almost anything, it is important to consume in moderation. It is also a good idea to cook these items at home, so you know exactly what you are eating.

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