Breaking down facts and fiction about today’s trendy eats
Kale, quinoa, coconut water, avocado, gluten-free foods — you’ve either heard of them or you’ve eaten them yourself. These are some of the trendiest foods right now and you can probably confirm this through the numerous foodie articles, annoying Instagram posts and over-done Facebook updates.
Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I haven’t tried a few of these (OK, all of them), but what’s more important is finding out if these foods are actually good for us, and figuring out how to work them into our diet. I asked Colleen Parsons, president of CGP Consulting, to fill us in on these trendy foods.
Kale is one of the latest “it” foods. Parsons, who is a fitness and nutrition coach, says that while it’s high in Vitamin A and beta-carotene, it’s not really that different from spinach in terms of the micronutrients it contains.
“It is a cruciferous vegetable and is very high in Vitamin K, which is used in the body’s normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity and bone health,” says Parsons.
“This does present a problem for people taking anticoagulants, such as warfarin, because it interferes with the drug activity. It does tout greater texture and more flavour, which is good or bad, depending on your preference.”
Still having trouble pronouncing this one? Parsons says that Quinoa (keen-wah) has a texture that pops between your teeth and can add another dimension to everyday meals.
Parsons says: “Quinoa producers tout that the seed is high in fibre, protein and some minerals, but technically, it’s not all that different from brown rice. It provides fewer calories per each 125 millilitres cooked serving than brown rice.”
“The avocado fruit has moved from forbidden to fabulous,” Parsons says.
Early explorers used avocado on their bread instead of butter, suggesting these vegetables are high in fat. While that may be true, Parsons says the type of fat is important for our bodies.
“Avocados are high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. They are high in fiber, folate, magnesium and potassium.”
What have you heard about coconut water? I’ve heard it cures hangovers because of its mystical hydration powers.
But, Parsons says she would consider coconut water to be a fairly unremarkable addition to the “it” food category. Parsons says that it does not offer the most effective balance of electrolytes for recovery from sports.
Parsons says that while you could drink coconut water after a light workout, it unfortunately will not be producing any of the magical results you may have heard of.
“It has some redeeming qualities such as it’s natural, slightly sweet [taste] and offers some electrolytes, but as a daily hydrating fluid or sports drink, be cautious,” Parsons says,
“It isn’t calorie free — so consuming throughout the day, when water might be all you need, may be calorically irresponsible.”
I think the first issue with gluten-free eating is that many people don’t actually know what gluten is. Parsons says that gluten is a protein found in certain species of wheat, barley, rye and their cross-bred hybrids. Adding that the demand for gluten-free foods in the marketplace is overwhelming compared to a few short years ago.
People go gluten-free for different reasons, but one reason is much more serious than the others. It is estimated that approximately one per cent of the population has Celiac Disease and consuming a gluten-free diet is a permanent lifestyle change that people with the disease must make.
“Although there are legitimate reasons why those sensitive to gluten eliminate foods containing gluten, going gluten free has also become a popular method for some to eliminate a food group in order to reduce overall calories,” Parsons says.
What is your go-to health food? Let us know!