5 healthy food claims busted

Healthy foods can be the subject of dubious nutritional claims. We set the record straight.

1. Fibre-added juices

Fruit and vegetable juices hardly contain any fibre, since it's usually removed through processing. For example, if you juice two oranges, the resulting product will have zero grams of fibre.

Blend the same two oranges whole into a smoothie, however, and you'll have 6g of the good stuff. Some bottled brands include added fibre via grain extracts or other additives like maltodextrin, a type of soluble fibre.

What you should know: "It's not clear if juice with added fibre would really be more nutritious than regular juice," says Monique Ryan, author of Sports Nutrition For Endurance Athletes.

If you really want more fibre in your juice, just put the whole fruit or vegetables in your blender. This way, you'll keep their fibre intact for a natural, more filling drink.

2. Meat-based nutrition bars

A cross between jerky and a granola bar, they're made with meats like buffalo or beef and dried fruit such as cranberries and orange peels. One bar may contain about 10g of protein - more than typical snack bars - and have little or no added sugar that you often find in those pick-me-up quick snacks.

What you should know: As a source of filling, portable protein, these can be a good option - especially if you typically fall victim to unhealthy vending-machine snacks or the convenient fast-food stop while driving home, says Monique.

3. Chia-seeded everything

Pudding, drinks, squeeze packs, bars, granola and cereals are studded with this tiny seed that provides doses of fibre, protein and heart-healthy omega-3s (ALA). Your body doesn't process ALA as efficiently as omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, but just like flaxseed, chia can pack a punch.

What you should know: Chia seeds are a healthy addition to a guy's diet, but look out for serving size. One serving is a tablespoon - what you'd throw into oatmeal or a shake. You may not get as much eating chia-pumped products as you would using it on its own.

4. Camel's milk

It has been around for thousands of years, but it's having a revival. Compared to reduced-fat cow's milk, one cup of camel's milk has about 10 fewer calories, mainly because moo juice has 3g more protein and a little more fat. Research in the European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition suggests camel's milk may improve blood sugar control and insulin resistance in diabetics.

What you should know: Some brands of camel's milk can run US$16 (S$21) a pint. Ouch! You may prefer the naturally sweeter taste, but beyond that there's really no pressing reason to choose it over cow's milk, says Monique.

5. Healthy chips

Chips take on a nutritious spin when they're made with vegetables, seaweed or egg white, because the typical potato variety adds extra calories.

What you should know: Potatoes have great nutrients in them, like potassium and vitamin C - they just have more calories than most vegetable chips because they're loaded with starch. Before you grab a bag of vegetable chips, however, make sure they aren't masquerading as a health food by comparing the nutrition labels. Chips made from 100 per cent vegetables or seaweed - kale chips or nori strips, for instance - are better than those that use a tiny bit of vegetable powder.

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