Health Food or Fraud - Page 2
Healthy or Not: Potatoes
Deemed waist-thickening, empty calories by the low-carb zealots, spuds are actually well-stocked with vital nutrients that runners need, including fiber, iron, vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, the latter of which is necessary for proper muscle functioning. Pair potatoes with protein or fat to slow digestion and prevent a blood-sugar spike.
• Your move: Eat potatoes with the skin on, as that is where most of the fiber is found. For cooking, roast, bake or steam potatoes, as boiling leaches out nutrients.
Healthy or Not: Agave Syrup
Verdict: Not Healthy
Agave syrup has gained popularity as a “healthier” way to satisfy your sweet tooth. However, agave is mostly nutrient-void and contains the same amount of calories as refined sugar. Further, agave has high amounts of fructose, the excessive consumption of which is believed to be a contributor the nation’s inflating waistline.
• Your move: Satisfy your sweet tooth with pure maple syrup or unpasteurized honey, both of which contain more antioxidants than agave.
Healthy or Not: Atlantic salmon
Verdict: Not healthy
It turns out Atlantic salmon is easier to grow in captivity than Pacific, even though most salmon farming occurs on the west coast. Studies suggest that consuming too much farmed salmon is a good way to reel in extra contaminants, such as PCBs, as well as potential antibiotic residues. Also, many salmon farms pollute waterways, and escapees may threaten wild species—cross breeding may result in inferior salmon species.
• Your move: Select the more sustainable Pacific wild salmon. If it is too pricey, consider economical farmed rainbow trout. Inland rainbow trout farms have less environmental impact and provide the same heart-healthy omega-3s.
Healthy or Not: Coconut oil
Coconut oil has long been castigated for its saturated fat content, and many health organizations have urged people to treat it as if it were sprinkled with cyanide. Yet, coconut oil is far from a health pariah. Most of the saturated fat in coconut is in the form of lauric acid—a medium-chain triglyceride that has antibacterial properties and does not negatively impact cholesterol numbers or heart health. Plus, coconut oil doesn’t break down when heated, making it a good choice for the frying pan.
• Your move: Coconut oil products labeled “virgin” have a more pronounced coconut flavor so use them in baked goods or smoothies. Refined coconut oil tastes more neutral, making it a good option for sautéeing.
Healthy or Not: Beef Jerky
Jerky gets a bad rap as being nothing more than pieces of parched, fat-laden beef that you pick up at the gas station on a road trip. Jerky actually has very little fat, making it a good high-protein snack.
• Your move: Look for jerky such as Mountain America Jerky (mountainjerky.com) that skip sketchy preservatives and flavor enhancers like nitrites and MSG. Beyond the cow, try turkey, salmon, buffalo and even venison jerky.
Healthy or Not: Fruit Yogurt
Verdict: Not Healthy
Most conventional fruit-flavored yogurt is pumped with added sugars and laboratory-produced flavors, and surprisingly little real fruit. In fact, flavored yogurts can contain up to triple the amount of sugar of plain versions.
• Your move: Select plain yogurt and add your own berries. Even better, choose Greek-style yogurt, which is packed with double the protein of traditional yogurts.