Tag Archives: super foods

Super Foods with Super Promises

lemonDrink lemon water to detox your liver, battle depression and dissolve gallstones!

coconut oil1

Consume coconut oil for shiny hair, clear complexion and a healthy heart!

green tea1

 

Sip green tea to lose weight and boost your immune system!

super-foods-300x161
You may have heard these so-called ‘super food’ claims.

Yes, what we eat and drink certainly can help ‘cure what ails you’ and protect against ill health. But the temptation to promise a wee bit more than science supports is rampant in marketing messages and perhaps always has been.
Food fads and fallacies are widespread. Consider this sage advice.

“No subject lends itself more readily to misuse than diet. Fakers fatten and grow rich on gullibility of the public when it comes to selling ‘pointers’ to beauty and health. It is only through education conducted by individuals who possess a thorough knowledge of nutrition that such fakers can be denounced and their pernicious advice refuted.”

– Fairfax T. Proudfit, professor of nutrition at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and author of Nutrition and Diet Therapy, first published in 1918.

Yup, 1918. I keep this old textbook on dietetics close to my desk. It’s been revised eight times and mine is the 1942 edition.

Proudfit

Nutrition science may have advanced by leaps and bounds since then, but truly the basics haven’t changed that much. Eat your vegetables, choose whole grains, seek out high quality protein, and eat a wide variety of foods to get a wide variety of nutrients. Limit sugar, fat and salt and remember to drink water to stay hydrated.

Way back when in Proudfit’s day, nutrition experts were concerned about under nutrition and vitamin deficiency diseases whereas today we’re focused on over nutrition and obesity related diseases including diabetes and cardio-vascular disease responsible for three out of five deaths worldwide.

Let’s get back to the lemon water.

lemonwater2

Every tall tale includes a kernel or two of the truth. Here’s why each of these ‘super foods’ can be healthy additions to your diet.

Lemon Water- The nutritional advantage of drinking water flavored with a little lemon juice is that it provides some vitamin C and the mineral potassium which are important for good health. Adding lemon, orange or a splash of any fruit juice can help make water taste a bit better so that you might drink a bit more to stay hydrated.
Research shows that offering water that is cooled and flavored increases fluid intake.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2756057
Proper hydration aids in digestion and supports all bodily functions including support of heart health and the brain. When you are dehydrated you can feel lethargic and even cranky. So, if drinking lemon water helps you stay hydrated that’s a good thing for the body and the brain. Other than that, I see no miraculous health advantages for adding citrus to drinking water. And actually you should make sure that the exterior of lemons and any other fresh fruit is cleaned before slicing to prevent bacterial contamination of the drinking water.

Coconut Oil-  wow that’s a lot of usefulness! Hmmm….too good to be true? 

coconut-oiluses
While coconut sure tastes good in a Pina-colada or a coconut cake, coconut oil isn’t all it’s cracked up to be as a ‘super food’ according to the US Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has issued warnings to marketers of coconut oil over misleading and unsubstantiated health and nutrition claims.
http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2005/ucm076069.htm

Coconut oil, like any fat, is a concentrated source of calories with 120 calories per tablespoon. And coconut oil is more than 90 percent saturated fat, the kind of fat associated with elevating blood cholesterol levels. By comparison, butter is 65 percent saturated fat. So using a bit of coconut oil to cook dishes such as Thai cuisine is delicious way to enjoy vegetables, but downing coconut oil by the spoonful won’t work miracles for your health.

Green Tea- Wow! you had me at “fights against aging.”

greenteasclaims

As registered dietitian trained to advise folks on food and fitness to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, I do like to recommend drinking unsweetened hot and iced tea because it’s hydrating, provides a non-caloric beverage and provides a gentle lift without the jitters often associated with drinking too much coffee. Green tea and black tea both contain the amino acid L-theanine, which research shows can help you feel alert and calm at the same time. That’s tea-rific!
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328

Note that green and black tea come from the same plant- camellia sinensis. Matcha green tea, enjoyed in tea ceremonies in Japan, is more concentrated than other green teas so will taste, some say, a bit ‘spinachy’ with a strong vegetal flavor. So it’s an acquired taste.

Some of the health claims for green tea include information on the high concentration of antioxidants, but there are lots of foods that are rich in disease fighting antioxidants including most fruits and vegetables, nuts and other kinds of tea, too.

blacktea

So, when you read about the ‘super’ effects of ‘super foods’ on your health, take a moment to digest the facts before you waste your money on empty promises.

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Kale: The Queen of Greens in the Queen City

Kale Caesar! 

Just as perplexing as the rising star of one actor over another who’s just as or even more talented – who knows how a food once in the back row of the chorus ends up on center stage? 
Such is the story of kale. 
If you’ve crunched on kale chips, one of the internet’s recent recipe darlings, you know what I mean.
Kale, once a humble hero, is a cruciferous vegetable and cousin to cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Described as a dark leafy green, kale comes in curly, ornamental, or dinosaur varieties.  It’s known as a winter green, but is actually available pretty much year round. Look for more kale creations as restaurant menus morph from summer to fall.  It can be braised as a side dish or tossed raw into salads.  Those super popular kale chips are created by chopping the relatively tough leaves into bite sized pieces, drizzling with olive oil and baking until crunchy.

Kale Caesar!

The writing’s on the wall at Butcher & Bee in Charleston
Thought to be originally from Asia, the ancient Romans ate kale and it was a staple of the peasant diet throughout the Middle Ages.  But, chances are the Romans didn’t dine on a salad called Kale Caesar.  A foodie play on the salutation “Hail Caesar!” this healthier version of the classic salad usually made with romaine lettuce is on the menu at Butcher & Bee in Charleston, SC.  
The logo for Butcher and Bee – Get it? 
Hip and healthy dining at Butcher & Bee, oh there are plenty of pork products too. 
A popular place for lunch and themed dinners such as “Geechee Supper” or “Israeli Dinner”, Butcher & Bee blends hip with homemade. 
cherry pick this chair for your lunch time perch
The chairs are unmatched on purpose, have an old school feel – well kind of rummage sale feel – and customers wear t-shirts that say “Make Cornbread, Not War.”  
The crunchy green Kale Caesar at Butcher & Bee sports large croutons made from home made bread and zingy grated Parmesan. 

Knockout Nutrition

It’s a side. It’s a salad. It’s super kale.  Noted for its antioxidant content, anti-inflammatory effects and cancer prevention power, this queen of greens reigns when it comes to nutritional content. With only 36 calories in one cup of kale, you get the benefit of 5 grams of fiber, 15% of the daily requirement of calcium, 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Kale is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important nutrients for eye-health.

Too much of a good thing.

Vitamin K, which is highly concentrated in kale, is important for normal blood clotting and promotes bone health. But too much vitamin K is a problem for anyone taking anticoagulants to treat blood clots, so they are advised to avoid or limit intake of kale because the high level of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs.

Another nutrition negative, kale is loaded with compounds called oxalates which can interfere with calcium absorption so if you’re a big kale consumer make sure to up the ante on calcium containing foods and beverages in your diet.

Kale Creations

Kale adds flavor and texture to soups such as minestrone.  Vegetarian restaurant, World Peace Café in Sandy Springs serves a kale based soup everyday. MetroFresh on Monroe mixes raw kale with jicama, sweet peppers and white balsamic dressing.  Chef Ian Winslade at Murphy’s in Virginia-Highland serves braised kale with grilled Georgia trout. Kale salad is the sidekick for flat iron steak at South City Kitchen.

Lunch at Butcher & Bee with Charleston cookbook author and foodie friend, Nathalie Dupree prolific terrific author of the brand spanking new 700+ recipes
Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking knows a thing or two about kale. 

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