Do these five health foods really live up to their claims?

Food offers us the vitamins we want to survive, and we all know a balanced weight loss program contributes to good health.

Beyond this, many individuals hunt down completely different foods as “medicines”, hoping that consuming sure issues would possibly forestall or deal with specific situations.

It’s true many foods include “bioactive compounds” – chemical compounds that act within the physique in ways in which would possibly promote good health. These are being studied within the prevention of most cancers, coronary heart illness and different situations.

But the concept of meals as drugs, though enticing, is definitely oversold within the headlines. Stories have a tendency to be based mostly on research accomplished within the lab, testing concentrated extracts from foods.

The impact seen in actual individuals consuming the precise meals goes to be completely different to the consequences in a petri dish.

If you do the maths, you’ll discover you really want to eat monumental quantities of specific foods to get an lively dose of the specified component. In some instances, this would possibly endanger your health, reasonably than defending it.

These 4 foods (and one drink) present the frequent therapeutic claims across the foods we eat don’t all the time stack up.


Cinnamon, which comprises a compound referred to as cinnamaldehyde, is claimed to support weight reduction and regulate urge for food.

There is proof cinnamaldehyde can cut back ldl cholesterol in individuals with diabetes. But that is based mostly on research of the chemical in massive doses – not consuming the spice itself.

These research give individuals between 1 and 6 grams of cinnamaldehyde per day. Cinnamon is about eight p.c cinnamaldehyde by weight – so that you’d have to eat at the very least 13 grams of cinnamon, or about half a grocery store jar, per day. Much greater than you’d add to your morning porridge.

Red wine

The headlines on the health advantages of crimson wine are often due to a chemical in grape skins referred to as resveratrol. Resveratrol is a polyphenol, a household of chemical compounds with antioxidant properties.

It’s been claimed resveratrol protects our cells from injury and reduces the danger of a variety of situations resembling most cancers, kind 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s illness, and coronary heart illness.

There is a few restricted proof that resveratrol has advantages in animal fashions, though research accomplished in people haven’t proven an analogous impact.

It varies by wine, however crimson wine comprises about three micrograms (about three millionths of a gram) of resveratrol per bottle. The research which have proven a profit from resveratrol use at the very least zero.1 grams per day (that’s 100,000 micrograms).

To get that a lot resveratrol, you’d have to drink roughly 200 bottles of wine a day. We can most likely all agree that’s not very wholesome.


Blueberries, like crimson wine, are a supply of resveratrol, however at just a few micrograms per berry, you’d have to eat greater than 10,000 berries a day to get the lively dose.

Blueberries additionally include compounds referred to as anthocyanins, which can enhance some markers of coronary heart illness. But to get an lively dose there you’re taking a look at 150-300 blueberries per day. More cheap, however nonetheless various fruit – and costly.


The information that darkish chocolate lowers blood strain is all the time well-received. Theobromine, a chemical in chocolate has been proven to decrease blood strain in doses of about 1 gram of the lively compound, however not at decrease doses. Depending on the chocolate, you may be consuming 100g of darkish chocolate earlier than you reached this dose.

Chocolate is a discretionary meals, or “junk food”.

The really useful serve for discretionary foods is not more than 600 kilojoules per day or 25g of chocolate. Eating 100g of chocolate could be equal to greater than 2,000kJ.

Excess kilojoule consumption leads to weight acquire and being obese will increase the danger of coronary heart illness and stroke. So these dangers would probably negate the advantages of consuming chocolate to decrease your blood strain.


Turmeric is a favorite. It’s good in curries, and not too long ago we’ve seen the hype across the turmeric latte. Stories pop up often about its therapeutic energy, usually based mostly on curcumin.

Curcumin refers to a gaggle of compounds, referred to as curcuminoids, which may have some health advantages, like decreasing irritation. Inflammation helps us to combat infections and reply to accidents, however an excessive amount of irritation is an issue in illnesses like arthritis and could be linked to different situations like coronary heart illness or stroke.

Human trials on curcumin have been inconclusive, however most use curcumin supplementation in very massive doses of 1 to 12 grams per day. Turmeric is about three p.c curcumin, so for every gram of turmeric, you eat you solely get zero.03g of curcumin. This means you’d have to eat greater than 30g of turmeric to get the minimal lively dose of turmeric.

Importantly, curcumin in turmeric just isn’t very bioavailable. This means we solely take in about 25 p.c of what we eat, so that you would possibly even have to eat nicely over 100g of turmeric, on daily basis, to get an affordable dose of curcumin. That’s numerous curry.

What to eat then?

We all need meals to heal us, however specializing in single foods and consuming mounds of them just isn’t the reply. Instead, a balanced and various weight loss program can present foods every with a variety of various vitamins and bioactive compounds. Don’t get distracted by fast fixes; focus as a substitute on having fun with quite a lot of foods.


Emma Beckett, Lecturer (Food Science and Human Nutrition), School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle and Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, PhD Student/Epidemiologist, University of Wollongong. 

This article is republished from The Conversation underneath a Creative Commons license. Read the unique article.


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