What foods are ‘trending’ and are they really good for you?

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Food has become very much like fashion. One particular food all of a sudden becomes trendy and a mainstream obsession for many. What are the reasons? Usually, foods become fashionable because they are thought to be healthier than their counterparts.

Today everyone is swapping brown rice with the South American quinoa, although both are very nutritious. After all, brown rice and quinoa stack up very closely against each other. 1 cup of cooked brown rice has about 215 calories, 5 g protein, 1.75 g fat, 45 g carbohydrates, and 3.5 g fiber. A cup of cooked quinoa has 220 calories, 8 g protein, 3.5 g fat, 39.5 g carbohydrates and 5 g fiber. So why go for quinoa? Unlike brown rice, quinoa’s protein, like animal protein, is high in biological value because it contains the essential amino acid lysine that our bodies can’t produce. For those following a vegetarian diet, quinoa is the first grain of choice. You can also combine brown rice with lysine rich beans to get the same result.

Give up gluten

Gluten free diets are being followed by many. Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat. And while a gluten free diet is essential for those suffering from celiac disease, there’s no evidence that it’s any healthier for the general population, just a lot more complex!

Crazy for Chia

Chia seeds are nutty, edible seeds that come from the plant Salvia hispanica, which grows in Mexico and South America. They’re good for just about everything. Calcium, phosphorus and manganese found in chia seeds are essential for healthy bones and teeth.

They’re high in tryptophan an amino acid that helps regulate appetite, sleep and improve the mood. This food also contains a generous amount of fiber for those of you who suffer from constipation. Just two tablespoons provide around 10 grams fiber, equivalent to 6 cups of salad.

Like flaxseed, it’s a good plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike flaxseed, chia seeds are much more easily absorbed in their whole form, while flaxseed needs to be ground. They can be added to practically anything for added nutritional value.

Nevertheless there is no magic component in chia seeds that will make you lose weight. As always, a balanced and healthy lifestyle is key.

Nondairy Milk

It’s somehow fashionable to drink milk alternatives, and the options are getting more numerous. With all the attractive health claims on these products, are they really that beneficial? If we look closely to the ingredients in these processed products we might have a good reason to worry.

Carrageenan is a seaweed-based additive and it is extremely inflammatory and a possible carcinogen.

Vegetable oils are present in these non-dairy milks and are extracted with toxic solvents as well as high heat and pressure, agents that cause the rancidity of the chemical structure of the fatty acids

Vitamin D2 is a synthetic and isolated form of vitamin D and, as a result, is extremely poorly absorbed. It offers no viable benefit to the body and may actually be harmful. Some experts believe that D2 actually desensitizes Vitamin D receptors in our body, making us more prone to its deficiency

Soy is the main component of the most popular non-dairy milk, soy milk. Soy might be very beneficial in general but high intakes can cause hormonal imbalances due to its high content of phytoestrogens especially in men, children and premenopausal women.

Nondairy milk might be the only option for the lactose-intolerant and vegetarians, but its ingredients should be carefully considered before consumption.

Green coffee bean extract

Green coffee bean extract is the latest supposed “fat burner” being promoted. It’s simply unroasted beans of coffee fruits, the same beans that are roasted, ground and used to make coffee. This overly priced product is said to promote weight loss and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and inflammation in the body. However, the support for weight loss is limited.

It has been suggested that a compound called chlorogenic acid found in raw coffee beans may help reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes by inhibiting an enzyme that promotes the formation of glucose in the liver. However, the small study that involved only 16 subjects, has shown a mere 2 kg weight loss in subjects on the high chlorogenic acid dose. In fact, the coffee-been extract was actually more likely to promote fat accumulation in the liver. And that can lead to the development of diabetes over time.

So what should you do? Drink 1-2 cups of regular coffee per day. Regular coffee will still provide the antioxidant properties while saving on your wallet.

Superfruit goji berries

Goji berries are the new superfood. Goji berries have all 18 amino acids as well as high doses of vitamin A, B, C and vitamin E. Goji berries contain more vitamin C by weight than any other food and more iron than spinach. They also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, some of the most important nutrients for healthy eyes and a healthy nervous system.

But let’s walk down memory lane. First it was cranberries, then acai berries, and now goji berries. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, present in all berries, can help improve your health, slow down aging, and prevent certain diseases. It’s time to finally realize that one fruit is not more “super” than another in the same category or one berry more super than the rest.


Racha Adib is a Beirut-based licensed dietitian who offers nutrition and wellness counseling to individuals and corporations. She graduated from the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics followed by a certificate in Essentials of Business. She is a member of the Lebanese Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics and the Lebanese League for Women in Business. She has also been frequently featured in media on MTV's “The Doctors,” LBC's “Mission Fashion,” and Orbit's “Ayoun Beirut” among others, and hosts a weekly radio program on the latest nutrition news and science breakthroughs. She can be found on Twitter: @rachaadib