Dietitians Dish on the Top 5 Overhyped Superfoods of 2017
With the new year now in sight, it’s time to consider what the last 12 months have taught us and how we can take those learnings into our next chronological chapter. For some of us, this means revamping the way we organize our inbox or implementing some new productivity hacks to keep life running more smoothly. Others among us might be kicking off 2018 with a fresh lease on our search for love and a new willingness to explore dating apps. And would it really be a new year without a new approach to health? We’re fairly confident that you’re looking to make some changes — however small — to your personal health regimen come January, and we’re happy to report that there’s a new survey available from the team at KIND Snacks that should help inform your nutritional action plan in the coming months.
KIND recently surveyed hundreds of dietitians and other nutrition pros from around the country to get their take on the health and wellness trends they expect to see take off in 2018. No conversation about future trends is quite complete, however, without talk of the trends of the past, so the dietitians who participated in the survey also spoke to the superfoods that they feel were most overhyped in 2017. Here are the five foods whose health benefits they were most likely to say have been blown out of proportion.
1. Coconut Oil: The dietitians and other nutrition experts surveyed in KIND’s study ranked coconut — and specifically coconut oil — as the single most overhyped superfood of the last year. Coconut oil has been heavily promoted as the healthiest option for cooking, largely because its high saturated fat content is said to positively impact HDL levels (“good cholesterol”), while negatively impacting LDL levels (“bad cholesterol”). All sounds good so far, right? Kind of. While coconut has been said to promote weight loss and the improvement of certain chronic conditions, the truth is that the research supporting these claims isn’t as strong as it could be. “The bottom line is that coconut can have a place in a healthy diet, but it should be consumed occasionally and in moderation along with other vegetable oils higher in unsaturated fats, like olive and canola oil,” says Stephanie Perruzza, registered dietitian and health and wellness communications specialist at KIND.
2. Turmeric: A bright yellow spice that’s recently found its way into more mainstream foods and beverages, turmeric is best known in the health community for its high concentration of curcumin, a phytochemical linked to reducing inflammation. While eating turmeric certainly shouldn’t hurt you — and might very well improve inflammatory symptoms — Perruzza tells us that the spice’s benefits were blown out of proportion in 2017.
3. Kale: Don’t clear out your crisper drawer or toss your “Kale yes!” shirt in the donations bin quite yet. The heavily promoted leafy green is highly nutritious, so there’s no reason to stop including it in your smoothies or salads. The concern from dietitians is that kale’s high profile in recent years has perhaps detracted attention from other vegetables that are also key for a healthy diet. “Putting emphasis on eating just one vegetable restricts you from getting other important nutrients found in a variety of leafy greens and other orange and red vegetables,” Perruzza says. In particular, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts deserve a little extra credit.
4. Açaí: “Açaí berries got hyped up as the star ingredient in açaí bowls and smoothies,” explains Perruzza. “These bowls offer a lot of nutrition but can pack high amounts of calories and sugar, which is important to consider. They can also be pricey.” While açai bowls are delicious, they are perhaps best eaten in moderation, especially given the fact that — according to the experts consulted in KIND’s survey — research supporting their supposed health benefits is actually fairly minimal.
5. Matcha: We hate to burst your bubble on that pretty matcha latte you’re drinking, but dietitians are pretty confident that our love for the ground green tea leaves will ultimately go down in history as a fad. Matcha’s high antioxidant content does make it a good choice nutritionally, but only time and additional research will tell if it’s as super as we’ve been led to believe in the last year.
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(Photos via Getty)