1.Acai berry juice
Health magazines rave over it and celebrities apparently swear by it, so should you be drinking acai berry juice too? Well, research suggests that this self-proclaimed “superberry” may not quite live up to its hype. Although the berry itself is nutritious, it is difficult to get hold of in its fresh form. Furthermore, studies suggest that the juice only has average health benefits when compared to that of other fruits. In fact, acai berry juice was found to be lower in antioxidants than pomegranates, blueberries and red wine – which are also much cheaper alternatives.
2. Goji berries
All berries are rich in powerful antioxidants that are thought to help prevent cancer, slow down ageing and ward off other nasty illnesses. However, little research has been done to prove that the much publicised – and expensive – goji berry is better than any other berry for maintaining good health. In fact, the humble, relatively inexpensive blackcurrant could actually be your best choice. According to research carried out at the Scottish Crop Research Institute, which examined the nutrients and antioxidants in various types of fruit, blackcurrants may be the healthiest fruit of all.
Many people think of yoghurt as the ultimate health food. However, while it is a good natural source of calcium and other nutrients, many flavoured yoghurts (including those that “contain real fruit”) are high in added sugars, making them not much healthier than any other sugary treat. Furthermore, while yoghurt can be rich in probiotics, many people have trouble digesting dairy, which can cancel out these benefits. For a healthy choice, opt for low fat, unsweetened yoghurt (try goat’s milk yoghurt if you have trouble digesting cow’s milk) and add your own fruit for sweetness.
Smoothies have become a buzzword in health and fitness in recent years, with many people opting to start their day or kill between-meal cravings with a fruit smoothie. However, while they can be a good substitute for other sweet snacks when prepared correctly, the health benefits of smoothies in general may have been blown out of proportion, as many smoothies purchased in stores and at smoothie bars are packed with syrups and refined sugars. Furthermore, even natural sugars in smoothies can add hundreds of extra calories onto your daily intake.
5. Wholewheat bread and pasta
With nutritional advice frequently advising us to up our intake of whole grains, many of us plan our diets around whole grain carbohydrates such as whole wheat pasta, bread and cereals. However, the health benefits of these processed carbs are highly overrated. There is a vast difference between unprocessed whole grains and refined wheat flour products, which are generally lacking in vitamins and minerals. The closer a grain is to its natural state the better it is for you, so swap pasta and bread for unprocessed whole grains such as whole oats, barley, millet and wheat berries.
Just as with whole wheat products, granola does offer some health benefits, being quite rich in fibre and nutrients derived from the rolled oats, nuts and seeds it contains. However, these nutrients and health benefits are just as easily obtained from a bowl of porridge or muesli sprinkled with seeds and nuts. By making this swap from granola, you will not only be cutting costs but also cutting out the high quantities of sugar and oil generally used in commercially available versions of this calorie-laden snack.
7. Vitamin-fortified drinks
With vitamin-fortified drinks you can boost your hydration levels, add to your nutrient intake and enjoy a refreshing soft drink all at the same time – perfect, right? Well, unfortunately not quite. Along with the vitamins and minerals contained in these drinks, you will, in most cases, also be guzzling down heaps of added sugar – often the equivalent of that contained in fizzy drinks. Furthermore, the synthetic vitamins they contain do not compare with those consumed in their natural form. Do your health a favour by swapping vitamin drinks for water and fresh fruit instead.
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