Busting myths about the biggest food trends

Heston Blumenthal's carbonara 

Each new year seems to bring with it the next superfoods (or foods to avoid) for healthy eating. Some trends stick around for a few years before being replaced by the next food "magic bullet" touted to prevent cancer, improve cardiovascular health, or other such claim. In a recent article in The Guardian, Joanna Blythman looks at eight current trends and explores the facts and fiction behind them

First up is the persistent claim that pasta is as bad for you as other simple carbs. So is there any truth to pasta company  Barilla's claims that "its unique resistant starch structure makes it more slowly digested than the same amount of flour made into bread?" It does seem plausible: "As long as you eat it "al dente", white pasta does indeed have a glycaemic index comparable with buckwheat or brown rice," so there is merit to the argument that it gives a steadier release of energy than other refined carbs. 

Dire predictions about negative effects of saturated fats are in question as more studies find no correlation between these fats and heart disease. That means whole milk is making a comeback and coconut oil is now being hailed as a health food. But is the highly saturated fat really for you? Says Blythman: "Raw, unrefined coconut oil doesn't get damaged by oxidisation and go rancid the way other cold-pressed vegetable cooking oils do. It is a naturally resilient oil that stands up to the heat of frying without degrading nutritionally. It is also exceptionally rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which have antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial effects." Recent research even points to these medium-chain fatty acids can help you lose weight. Of course, all of these benefits come with a healthy price tag to accompany the alleged health benefits. 

Other trends explored in the article are whether red meat is really a killer, if dates are better for you than refined sugar, and how beneficial bone broth really is. I have always taken the long view when it comes to purported health claims, especially those that label any particular food product as terrible. Whole milk has been in my refrigerator for decades, and I never cut out pasta or made the switch to wholewheat, so my eating habits won't change much based on new research. However, it is heartening to find that my food choices are now vindicated. Are any new trends prompting you to reconsider your dietary choices? 

Photo of Heston Blumenthal's carbonara from DeliciousMagazine.co.uk by Heston Blumenthal

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