LIFESTYLE

'The Truth About Healthy Eating': 7 Eye-Opening Findings From The BBC Show

It turns out that some superfoods aren't actually that super.

03/06/2016 14:30

Nowadays, many of us are obsessed with eating healthily. But are the latest superfoods and supplements actually having beneficial effects on our bodies? 

In a new BBC documentary called 'The Truth About Healthy Eating', Fiona Phillips chatted to scientists and nutritionists to find out whether these expensive foods are better than your average produce or whether it's all just a load of old rubbish.

Here are seven interesting findings from the show.

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1. Superfoods' health benefits aren't actually that super

Dr Gunter Kuhnle from the University of Reading put five superfoods - goji berries, chia seeds, coconut oil, kale and red quinoa - up against cheaper alternatives to see which were healthier. 

First up, volunteers were given either goji berries or strawberries. Their vitamin C levels were then monitored throughout the day. 

Dr Kuhnle found that there was no "noticeable difference" between the two. 

Next, volunteers were given either quinoa or pearl barley. According to Dr Kuhnle, quinoa releases carbohydrates much slower than other foods and contains a lot of protein.

Volunteers gave blood samples to see how each food performed in terms of releasing energy. Once again, there was no noticeable difference and both grains released a similar amount of energy within two hours of being eaten.

Dr Kuhnle also analysed coconut oil vs rapeseed oil, chia seeds vs linseed, and kale vs white cabbage. He didn't find any evidence to suggest the superfoods were much better than their everyday counterparts.

2. Expensive superfoods can be easily replaced with cheaper, everyday foods

During a supermarket dash, Fiona popped goji berries, chia seeds, coconut oil, kale and red quinoa into her basket - altogether it came to more than £36.

She challenged nutrition expert Sian Porter to find her healthy alternatives for a fraction of the cost. Here's what she suggested:

- Swap coconut oil for rapeseed oil, which is cheaper at around £3

- Swap chia seeds for pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or linseed

- Swap quinoa for rice or pearl barley

- Swap kale for cabbage or spring greens

- Swap goji berries, which are rich in vitamin C, for a bag of mixed summer fruits

Altogether, these items totalled £6, which is £30 cheaper than forking out on superfoods.

3. Eggs win at breakfast

Scientists tested Weetabix, yoghurt and fresh fruit, and boiled eggs and grilled bacon to see which breakfast sustained students for longest and gave them the most energy.

They discovered there was no difference in the amount of glucose that was delivered to the blood between the three different breakfast options and there was also no change in the calories burnt by students after eating the different foods.

In terms of which breakfast sustained the students for longer, there was a clear winner - boiled eggs and grilled bacon.

Those who ate eggs and bacon for breakfast stayed fuller for longer and also consumed fewer calories at lunch time than the students who ate fruit and yoghurt or Weetabix.

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4. Bigger oats are better for the body than finely-milled versions

After looking at how quickly different sized oats passed through the body, scientists found that bigger oats stayed in the body longer than finely milled ones and therefore kept volunteers feeling fuller for longer.

"The bigger the oat, the better the oat," they concluded.

They added that wholegrains that are processed and turned into cereal might not be as good for you as, say, porridge. 

5. Frying eggs isn't necessarily bad for you

While cooking up fried eggs and scrambled eggs, nutritionist Amanda Ursell reveals that when frying eggs, the egg doesn't actually absorb the fat. (The same is also true of lean meat and fish.)

She added that out of fried or scrambled eggs she would opt for fried ones "every day of the week".

6. Boiling is the worst way to cook veg

When it comes to cooking vegetables, it can be difficult to know which is the healthiest method. Do you boil them, steam them, microwave them or stir fry them?

Vitamin C dissolves in water and is damaged by the heat, so microwaving and stir frying are surprisingly healthy options.

But the best method by far is steaming your vegetables, said Ursell.

"Boiling is the worst way of cooking broccoli," she added. 

7. Antioxidant-filled smoothies don't actually work

We spend more than £250 billion a year on smoothies, but are the ones filled with magical antioxidants actually good for you? In short, no.

A leading scientist explained that antioxidants are immediately broken down by the intestine. As a result, just 1% of the original amount of antioxidants will make it into the blood stream. 

'The Truth About Healthy Living' aired on BBC One on Thursday 2 June. Watch it on BBC iPlayer here for more eye-opening findings. 

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