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Super Food Or Super P#ony?

Get the 411 on the trendiest, most hashtaged foods and drinks. Are they worth the dough? Read on to find out.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Scrolling through your social media feed might tempt you to run out and drop some serious cash on mushroom coffee or an acai bowl, but what among the food porn is just eye candy and what is truly good for you? The trend cycle of healthy, wholesome foods and drinks is in constant flux, and it’s easy to get duped into buying an overhyped product whose only true power is draining your bank account. Still, hopping on board the trend train is a great way to add variety to your diet and keep healthy eating interesting and fun. Here, we separate the science from the sales pitch and reveal what is worth the splurge — and what isn’t — so you can put your money where your health is.

SPLURGE MATCHA

Matcha is essentially powdered tea leaves, and its popularity has been slowly picking up steam — with good reason. For starters, it contains a mother lode of antioxidants, including a next-level compound called ECGC, which may help ward off certain cancers and bolster bone strength. One study found that — since you’re consuming the entire tea leaf — matcha contains up to 137 times more antioxidant firepower than typical green tea.

Matcha has a bigger caffeine kick than black tea (but still less than coffee), and a study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that the combination of ECGC and caffeine in matcha may amp fat burning during exercise. Plus, matcha’s smooth, grassy taste is strangely habit-forming. Just be cautious when ordering commercially made matcha lattes because many include hidden sugary ingredients, like flavored milks or syrups.

SKIP BONE BROTH

Hollywood A-listers and Paleo proponents are guzzling it back, but you may want to hold off on buying into the bigbucks brouhaha. Processed by slowly simmering animal bones and connective tissues, bone broth is hyped as a great source of collagen, which is a building block for bones, tendons, ligaments, nails and skin. It makes sense that drinking it means you’ll get stronger joints, less brittle nails and glowing skin, right? Perhaps. The jury is still out on the hard facts because as of yet, there is no real research that supports the idea that consuming extra collagen via broth is a free pass to the fountain of youth.

“Our bodies already synthesize ample collagen from the amino acids consumed via dietary protein sources like chicken and beef,” says Jennifer O’Donell-Giles, MS, RDN, CSSD, a board-certified sports dietitian. “Therefore, if a person is eating enough protein, they are already making enough collagen and don’t need to get more from expensive bone broth.” What’s more, your digestive tract breaks down the collagen found in broth into individual amino acids instead of absorbing it whole.

Made from the youngest tea leaves, ceremonial matcha is considered the highest grade available and should be consumed as a brewed tea. Less pricey culinary matcha is still high-quality but is better suited for use in smoothies, yogurt and even salad dressings.

That being said, the total protein per cup of bone broth is upward of 10 grams, and the naturally occurring electrolytes could make it a helpful recovery aid after a sweaty workout. “But bone broth is not a complete protein source and is therefore not the best form of protein for rebuilding muscle tissue,” O’Donell-Giles adds. Plus, it’s expensive and is probably not as good — or affordable — as your standard protein shake.

SPLURGE KEFIR

Not quite yogurt and not quite milk, kefir is a cultured, fermented beverage with a creamy-tart taste similar to yogurt. However, kefir contains more strains of probiotics and greater numbers of live and active cultures than yogurt, and because these bacteria play a big role in maintaining immune health, reducing inflammation and protecting your heart and brain, kefir is worth a buck or two.

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July - August 2019

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