A review of some recent health fads has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that identifies some of the cons associated with juicing, coconut oil, and gluten-free diets.
Dr. Andrew Freeman, co-chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Lifestyle and Nutrition Work Group, explained the need for this review: “There is widespread confusion in terms of nutrition. Every day someone says something is good, and then the next day they say it’s bad. Our purpose was to do our best to give clinicians the tools they need to help their patients.” The conclusions reached concerning these fads are mentioned below.
Popular health fads that aren’t as healthy as you think
Juicing: Juicing uses a processor to extract the vitamin rich juice from various fruits and vegetables but leaves behind their natural fiber. While juicing may help improve the body’s absorption of certain nutrients, the pulp left behind also contains important vitamins and minerals that are normally consumed when eating the whole fruit or vegetable.
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, the director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston, also pointed out that when you juice “you’re leaving behind most of the nutrients, you’re leaving behind the fiber, and research has shown that when you drink calories they aren’t as satiating as when you chew them.” By this logic, consuming your meals in juice form not only cuts out some of the nutrition, but it also leaves you feeling hungrier than if you had just eaten the foods you put into the processor.
Coconut oil: Praised for its restorative benefits for your skin and hair, coconut oil has also become a food trend in cooking and baking. Unfortunately, there is little evidence backing this oil as a healthier substitute for the standard vegetable oils often used, as it contains a high amount of unhealthy saturated fats. These unsaturated fats can contribute to higher cholesterol levels and the potential buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Gluten-free diet: While going gluten-free is a necessity for those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, people who have a regularly healthy digestive system should steer clear of this diet. This is because going gluten-free cuts out many healthy whole grains that are a natural source of fiber as well as other essential vitamins and minerals. Also, many of the substitutes for gluten-filled products are higher in processed and refined carbohydrates that turn to sugar and can negatively affect the management of your blood sugar levels.
Keeping up with the latest health and diet trends can be confusing, and researchers recommend that healthy individuals stick to a mostly produce-based diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and that we try to consume whole foods whenever possible to ensure we are getting the most out of the calories.