For most of 20th century culinary history, kale wasn’t even eaten, instead only being used as a decorative garnish. However, this changed in the 1990s, and interest in kale’s nutritional properties led to to the cruciferous vegetable exploding in popularity. It is currently viewed as one of the healthiest vegetables available, and regularly makes its way into places it has absolutely no business being. Unfortunately for everyone who has been ruining their breakfast smoothies, kale really isn’t as healthy as it’s purported to be. The leafy green vegetable boasts less vitamin A than carrots, less magnesium than spinach, and less fibre than Brussels sprouts.
Aside from being incredibly confusing to pronounce, acai berries are also completely overhyped when it comes to their health benefits. Originating in the rainforests of South America, acai berries were first brought to the attention of western audiences by Dr. Oz, a TV presenter with a track record of endorsing questionable health practises. In 2009, Oz claimed that the berries improve skin, fight the ageing process, and aid weight loss. These claims have led to acai berries exploding in popularity, and people are willing to pay exorbitant amounts to get their hands on them. The only problem? None of these claims have any basis in reality, and there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the berries have strong health benefits.
Named after the Mayan word for “strength”, chia seeds come from the plant Salvia hispanica and were an important food for Aztec and Mayan civilisations. There has been a recent trend of foods that were prized by ancient civilisations blowing up in popularity, and chia seeds can definitely be included in this category. One of the main claims made about chia seeds is that they are high in omega-3, an important nutrient which is hard to obtain from plants. Whilst this is true, to obtain a meaningful amount of omega-3s from chia seeds one would have to eat a ridiculous amount of them, which would almost certainly result in severe gastrointestinal distress as the seeds are high in insoluble fibre.
Chocoholics everywhere were no doubt delighted when their favourite treat started generating buzz as a superfood. Claims for chocolate’s health benefits are based on its high content of a number of important nutrients, including magnesium, iron, and manganese. However, whilst chocolate does contain these beneficial compounds, it also is packed with sugar. Additionally, the manufacturing process for the majority of commercial chocolate strips away most of the good stuff. Milk chocolate in particular is basically worthless from a nutritional standpoint. Some very dark chocolates are quite good for you, however, as long as they are eaten in moderation.
Avocados seem to never be far from the headlines, whether it’s revelations about Mexican cartels infiltrating the avocado business or an Aussie millionaire stating that young adults would be able to get on the property ladder if only they’d stop eating so much avocado toast. The hard-skinned green fruit is widely assumed to be as healthy as it is controversial, and for a long time was the undisputed superfood-du-jour. However, whilst avocados are full of healthy nutrients like vitamin E and folate, they are also extremely high in fat, with a single fruit packing around 22 grams of the stuff. While this isn’t a problem in itself, the massive overhyping of avocado’s health benefits sees many people eat them in excess without realising how much they are driving up their daily calorie count.
Famous for being unbelievably messy to eat, pomegranate is considered by some to be a superfood. Unfortunately, the evidence is far from convincing. In 2012, POM Wonderful, a company offering a range of pomegranate based juices, was ordered by a judge to stop making outlandish claims about its product’s health benefits. The company had been claiming that its juices treated a range of ailments including heart disease, erectile dysfunction and even prostate cancer. The Federal Trade commission took issue with these claims being made on the basis of virtually no reputable studies and a US court agreed, ordering POM Wonderful to immediately stop advertising their products on the basis of these ‘benefits’.
Goji berries have long been a staple of Chinese medicine, but the tiny red fruit has recently been enjoying popularity with a western audience. Overpriced boxes of goji berries can be picked up in most health food shops, and they have been increasingly showing up in recipes. Goji berries supposedly derive their healing effects from their high content of polysaccharides, long chains of carbohydrates that are reported to have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. However, whilst they do boast a reasonable polysaccharide content, goji berries are also very high in sugar, which almost certainly offsets most of their alleged health benefits.
Smoothies began to take off in the 1990s, and since then their popularity has only continued to grow. Dedicated smoothie shops can be found on most high streets, and bottled smoothies have become a mainstay on supermarket shelves, often in the healthy drinks section. Unfortunately, smoothies are really, really bad for you. Fruit is healthy because of the nutrients it contains, but it’s still full of sugar. The fibre in whole fruit slows down the digestion of this sugar, meaning it doesn’t cause dramatic spikes in blood glucose and insulin levels, but blending fruit destroys the fibre and allows all of the sugar to be absorbed instantly. Commercially available smoothies often have a higher sugar content than fizzy drinks, which massively outweighs the benefits from any vitamins and minerals. The fact that most people still believe that smoothies are healthy has led to massive overconsumption, causing problems from obesity to diabetes.
Brazil nuts get a lot of hype in bodybuilding circles for their supposed ability to increase testosterone levels. Advantages of elevated testosterone include increased energy, motivation and libido, and an enhanced ability to build muscle. Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which is an important nutrient heavily involved in testosterone production. Unfortunately for those looking for a convenient snack to boost their gains, there isn’t much evidence that Brazil nuts have any measurable affects on testosterone levels. To make matters worse, selenium is actually toxic at relatively low levels, and there have been reported instances of people being hospitalised after consuming too many Brazil nuts.
Once something is anointed as a superfood, it tends to get touted as a cure for almost every ailment imaginable. Coconut oil is a textbook example of this phenomenon, and its list of supposed powers includes killing viruses and whitening teeth. One use of coconut oil that actually has the potential to be harmful is ‘bulletproof coffee’, which consists of black coffee, grass-fed butter and coconut oil. The resultant blend is supposed to enhance mental clarity and stamina, with some anecdotal evidence suggesting it does, but consuming daily cupfuls of saturated fats is a recipe for heart disease.
Legumes are plants from the family Fabaceae including beans, lentils, and peas, and they have been getting a lot attention in recent years for their supposed health benefits. Legumes are high in fibre and can help regulate blood sugar levels, as well as packing reasonable amounts of vitamins and minerals. However, legumes also tend to be high in ‘anti-nutrients’ such as phytic acid. These hinder the bodies ability to absorb certain nutrients, such as iron, copper, and zinc, so eating legumes with every meal can actually lead to deficiencies over time.
Beetroots have recently become a health food sensation, infiltrating dishes in hipster cafes everywhere. However, some of the health claims made about beetroots have been found to be bereft of evidence, and there are even some health concerns around them. The main ailment beetroots are supposed to treat is hypertension. The root vegetable is high in nitrates, which get converted into nitric oxide in the body, potentially lowering blood pressure. Unfortunately, the level of nitrates in beetroots is unlikely to have a significant impact. Additionally, nitrates turn into a compound called nitrosamine when consumed with red meat, leading to an elevated risk of bowel cancer.
Another food that has made the jump from Asian cuisine to the shelves of health food shops. In recent years a plethora of seaweed based snacks has emerged in the west, and health-conscious shoppers have been eagerly lapping them up. Despite the hype, seaweed doesn’t have particularly high levels of any notable nutrients, with one exception: it is high in vitamin B12, a nutrient that is relatively rare in plants. However, the vast majority of people get adequate levels of B12 from their diets, and vegans generally supplement it.
In recent years, scientists have learned a great deal about the importance of our microbiome, the collection of bacterial colonies that lines our intestines. Many afflictions are now being traced back to disturbances in the microbiome, and this has naturally led to a search for ways to help the healthy bacteria in our bodies thrive. Enter fermented food. Ancient products like kefir and kimchi have suddenly erupted in popularity and can now be purchased from most grocery stores. Whilst there is good evidence for the health benefits of fermented products in general, kombucha, a kind of fermented tea that has been selling wildly, doesn’t actually have any studies to back up its claims.
Nuts, when eaten in moderation, are a fantastic source of important nutrients including protein, antioxidants and fibre. It thus seems logical that nut milks would also be good for you, and many people have embraced dairy alternatives, particularly almond milk, in pursuit of health benefits. However, the process by which almond milk is made actually strips away most of the nutrients from the final product, which generally still packs quite a lot of calories.
Honey has played an important role in medicine for thousands of years, with ancient civilisations recognising its ability to enhance wound healing and treat infections. Even today, honey is still widely regarded as beneficial for treating colds, and many people will reach for a cup of hot lemon and honey at the first sign of a sore throat. However, whilst honey does have some medicinal value, its benefits are not as far reaching as the health food industry would like you to believe. Many people also use honey as a substitute for sugar, believing it to be a healthy alternative. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t discriminate between different kinds of sugar, and honey has the same effect on insulin and blood glucose levels as table sugar.
In much the same way as the body can’t tell the difference between sugar sources, different varieties of salt all have the same effects on our internal organs. In recent years there has been a growing consensus that refined table salt is bad for you, whilst more natural salts, particularly Himalayan salt, confer health benefits without the disadvantages. However, at the end of the day all salts are comprised of an equal mix of sodium and chloride, and differences in appearance are superficial. The health claims of Himalayan salt have also led to people upping their sodium intake, with side effects ranging from high blood pressure to heart disease.
Low-fat peanut butter
Humble peanut butter has been enjoying a resurgence in recent years. Whilst it has long been appreciated in fitness circles for its high protein content, it has now gained popularity with health-conscious consumers generally, due to the fact that it contains a number of beneficial nutrients like vitamin E, whilst also being delicious. Eager to cash in, food manufacturers have started producing low-fat peanut butter, which is marketed as a healthier version. Unfortunately, removing the fat also removes the flavour, so most low-fat peanut butters have been packed with unnecessary sugars, which recent science suggests is far worse for you than moderate amounts of fat.
Apple cider vinegar
Another food which is often touted as close to a miracle cure, claims made by the health food industry have caused apple cider vinegar to become wildly popular. Companies have tried to find ways to make the stuff more palatable, such as in the form of apple cider vinegar gummies, but a lot of people simply sip it neat. Apple cider vinegar is claimed to lower blood sugar levels, control harmful bacteria, aid weight loss, and even cure cancer. Studies have found some evidence that the vinegar can moderately reduce blood glucose levels, but there isn’t any data to support the other claims.
In 2004, Vita Coco released their first commercial coconut water drink, and it wasn’t long before the industry was booming. Vita Coco targeted health-conscious consumers with their marketing, claiming that coconut water is packed full of nutrients. Competitors trying to get into the crowded market also pushed their own claims, resulting in the persistent myth that coconut water is somehow a far superior way to hydrate than regular water. Despite the fact that there is no evidence to support this, coconut water sales continue to flourish and the market was valued at $4.2 billion in 2020.
People generally associate highly palatable foods with negative health effects and, conversely, tend to view bland, boring foods as good for you. Couscous manufacturers take advantage of this phenomenon, marketing it as a healthy alternative to carbs such as pasta. In reality, couscous, which is made from durum wheat, is no better for you than pasta, although it is considerably more dull (at least when served on its own). In fact, pasta actually packs more protein, so depending on your dietary requirements it might be the healthier option.
Wheatgrass, in particular wheatgrass juice, has been getting a lot of celebrity endorsements recently, with stars like Angelia Jolie, Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts all taking to social media to show themselves downing glasses of the nauseating green liquid. Claims made for the health benefits of wheatgrass include all the usual suspects – increased weight loss, reduced inflammation, and slowed ageing. Despite these bold claims, wheatgrass juice has almost no nutritional content. Exactly how it came to be such a widespread health fad is baffling, but now that it’s here, it’s probably not going anywhere.
Breakfast is often touted as the most important meal of the day, and muesli is a mainstay in the diets and pantries of health-conscious consumers everywhere. On the surface it seems like the perfect breakfast choice, offering the convenience of cereal without the nasty bits. Unfortunately, muesli is often full of hidden sugars, and it is not uncommon for a bowl to pack upwards of ten grams of sugar, a number that can rise dramatically for varieties that include raisins and dried fruit.
Humans have been eating yogurt since around 5,000 BC, making it one of the most ancient foods still consumed today. Made by heating milk with added bacterial cultures, yogurt can have an impressively high probiotic content, as well as packing a hefty amount of calcium. Unfortunately, most commercially available options don’t live up to the yogurt our ancestors made. In an attempt to make their products more palatable, manufacturers cram their yogurts with sweeteners, killing the healthy bacteria. Worst of all are the low-fat options, which are packed full of sugar.
Quinoa is actually a type of grass, and it has gained extraordinary popularity in recent years as a superfood. It is claimed to be especially beneficial to vegans, as it is supposedly a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids). It has also been claimed to be tolerable for those with gluten intolerance, and its fibre content is touted to be superior to other grains. This last fact is true (just), but both other claims have been thoroughly debunked. Those with coeliacs disease, in particular, need to be careful about buying into the claims made about quinoa, as it has been reported to cause strong reactions in sufferers.
One of the first examples of a ‘superfood’, blueberries first started gaining hype in the early 21st century after government-funded scientists created a rating tool called the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC), which measured the antioxidant content of food. At that time, there was great excitement about the benefits of antioxidants, which were believed to have strong anti-cancer properties, as well as many other positive effects. Blueberries topped the ORAC list, which was published on the USDA website, and blueberry sales started skyrocketing. However, 20 years later, the USDA retracted the list, as well as their claims about the powers of antioxidants whose benefits remain unclear. Whilst blueberries are healthy, they are no better than any other kind of berry.
The baobab tree is found in Madagascar, Australia and mainland Africa. It has long played an important role in tribal medicine, with its bark, leaves and seeds often ground into a powder which is used a treatment for almost any ailment. Baobab has now made its way into western trends, and can be found in most high-street health food stores. Proponents of baobab powder claim that it is high in various nutrients including iron and vitamin C, and helps with everything from regulating blood sugar to improving digestion. Whilst baobab is a reasonably good source of some of these nutrients, experts have stated that they can also be easily obtained from less exotic produce at a fraction of the cost.
The myth that eating carrots will help you see in the dark was started during WWII. The Brits had secretly invented radar, essentially allowing them to see enemy aircraft in the dark, which they explained by claiming in propaganda campaigns that their pilots ate high amounts of carrots. There is actually some truth to the myth, as carrots contain high levels of vitamin A, which improves vision generally. The conical orange vegetable started getting attention as a superfood in the late 2010s, with claims made about its ability to tackle heart disease and boost immunity. However, carrots aren’t any better than most other vegetables nutritionally speaking, and eating too many can even lead to a condition called ‘carotenemia’ which causes orange skin.
A persistent myth about celery is that it is the world’s only calorie negative food. Proponents of this theory claim that the body actually expends more energy eating and digesting celery than it gains from it, making it the perfect snack for those on a diet. Despite the fact that this is absolutely ludicrous, and would imply that one could starve to death faster by eating celery, the falsehood is believed remarkably widely. Celery is a low calorie snack, and it contains a reasonable amount of nutrients such as vitamin K, but it doesn’t outperform the majority of vegetables when it comes to health benefits.
One of the most confusing food trends of the last ten years has been the demonisation of gluten. Whilst there are a number of people who are intolerant to gluten, and some, including coeliacs, who can have very strong reactions to it, for the vast majority of consumers gluten poses no problems. Food companies and health shops have been marketing gluten-free products as healthier alternatives purely on the basis that they are gluten-free, and consumers have been falling for it hook, line and sinker. On closer inspection many gluten-free snacks turn out to be packed with sugar and artificial sweeteners, and most people would be better off avoiding them.
Cornflakes were invented by John Harvey Kellogg in 1894 and have gone on to become a staple at breakfast tables around the world. Cornflakes are undeniably dull, but it turns out that’s kind of the point. Kellogg was a rather strange man, with even stranger beliefs. As well as dabbling in eugenics, he was also puritanically religious, and spent a lot of his time devising ways to stop people from engaging in what he referred to as “self-pollution”. Cornflakes were part of his plan: Kellogg believed that if people only ate bland, depressing food, their passions would never be inflamed and, consequently, they would have an easier time refraining from touching themselves.
The ancient Romans used animal products in some questionable ways, with crushed mouse brain used as toothpaste, burnt earthworms applied as face cream, and cat liver used as a contraceptive (by placing it in a tube and strapping it to the left foot, obviously). They also ate a wide variety of oddities in pursuit of health benefits, including flamingo tongues. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, the tongues of the bright pink birds are not only delicious but full of beneficial nutrients. Flamingo tongues were in quite short supply and thus highly expensive, making their consumption a decidedly upper-class activity.
Low-fat salad dressing
In the 1940s, studies showed a correlation between high-fat diets and high cholesterol levels, leading American physicians to recommend that patients at a high risk of heart disease limit their fat intake. In the 60s, this advice crossed into mainstream public health advice, and an obsession with low-fat diets was born. Food companies began manufacturing low-fat versions of their products, and to keep them palatable began adding excess sugar and chemical additives. These substitutes, it turns out, are worse than fat – a lot worse. Low-fat salad dressing is one of the worst offenders, packing up to 14 grams of sugar per two tablespoons, often in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
Chips are arguably the perfect snack; salty, convenient, and oh-so-delightfully crunchy. They are also, unfortunately, pretty unhealthy, due to the fact that the potato slices are often deep-fried and coated in obscene amounts of sodium, flavourings, and preservatives. In recent years a number of ‘health-conscious’ brands have started offering veggie crisps, generally made from a medley of vegetables such as carrot, parsnip, and beetroot. Although these can often be found in the health food aisles of supermarkets, they have all the same issues as regular potato chips, which people seem to forget were made out of a vegetable in the first place.
The smell of cooked bacon is so enticing that scientists have actually studied it, discovering that the sugar and amino acids in the meat mix in what has been named the Maillard reaction, producing around 150 irresistible aroma compounds. Like anything this delicious, bacon is, of course, dire for your health. In an effort to make it healthier, some companies have started producing turkey bacon, which is explicitly marketed as a healthy alternative. However, it’s full of artificial colours, preservatives, saturated fat, and nitrates that, according to the International Agency for the Research of Cancer, are “probably carcinogenic”.
Once something that only bodybuilders paid serious attention to, protein is increasingly on the radar of mainstream consumers. This has coincided with an increasing societal focus on physical fitness, with gym memberships rising 28% over the last decade. Companies eager to cash in now offer a range of protein-infused products, and the protein bar reigns king. Able to pack up to 22 grams of protein into a convenient snack, protein bars now occupy entire aisles in supermarkets. Unfortunately, most commercial protein bars come with some serious downsides in the ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and sodium.
Fruit is widely considered one of the healthiest types of food in the world, packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, so it’s hard to imagine that it could also be bad for you. Unfortunately, fruit is loaded with sugar. This isn’t necessarily a problem when eaten in moderation, as fruit’s high fibre content slows the absorption of sugar, but it can still cause problems in certain situations. When fruit is dried, all the moisture is removed, dramatically reducing the fruit’s size. However, all the sugar and calories remain. Because it is so much smaller, people tend to massively overeat dried fruit, and end up consuming far more sugar than if they had eaten the fruit fresh.
Red meat has come under a lot of fire in recent years due its high concentrations of saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Britain’s National Health Service has also published guidance that red meat is likely to increase the risk of certain types of cancer, and advises that red meat should only be eaten a couple of times a week. People looking for healthier alternatives might be tempted to turn to veggie burgers instead. However, these are often still packed with fat, and tend to contain high levels of sodium and artificial preservatives.
Dr Pepper was invented by Charles Alderton, an American pharmacist, in 1885. Originally known as ‘Waco’, the drink was given its now iconic name by Wade Morrison, a friend of Alderton’s to whom he gave the formula. Considering that the drink was invented by a pharmacist, it’s unsurprising that it was originally marketed for its health benefits. Described as a ‘brain tonic’, early campaigns for the beverage touted its ability to “aid digestion and restore vim, vigour, and vitality”. Nowadays, fortunately, it’s pretty common knowledge that drinking Dr Pepper – or any other sugary drink – is likely to achieve precisely the opposite.
The clue’s in the name with this one. Routinely ranked as the greatest biscuit of all time by the British public, McVitie’s Digestives were invented by Sir Alexander Grant in 1892, and the recipe was fiercely guarded. Digestives were given their name because at the time of their invention it was believed that one of their ingredients, sodium bicarbonate, gave the biscuits antacid properties. This was later debunked and, hilariously, Digestives now come with a disclaimer that states “the ingredients in this biscuit do not contain any substances that assist digestion”.
Like with gluten-free products, people tend to see the word ‘organic’ and immediately assume that whatever product the label has been slapped on has to be healthy. This assumption falls apart pretty quickly under a little bit of scrutiny. To qualify as organic, food simply has to have been produced in compliance with organic farming principles. These include promoting biodiversity, refraining from the use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers, and rotating crops to allow soil to replenish. It doesn’t say anything about the end product. Cookies, for example, can be made using only organic ingredients, and thus earn the coveted label, but that doesn’t stop them from being extremely high in sugar and terrible for your health.
A byproduct of the war on fat is that eggs have been unfairly demonised, with public health advice warning that they contain high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat. Most of these compounds are concentrated in the yolk, so food companies have started selling egg white mixtures with the yolks removed. These are generally marketed as ‘heart healthy’. However, more recent studies have shown that while egg yolks do contain high levels of cholesterol, they don’t actually raise blood cholesterol levels in humans, even when eaten in large amounts. Moreover, most of the beneficial nutrients in eggs, such as vitamin D, are found in the yolk.
Another item that’s likely to be found in supermarket health food aisles, trail mix might seem like the perfect on-the-go snack for the health-conscious consumer. Nuts are known to be highly nutritious, boasting high levels of healthy fats and compounds like vitamin E, and raisins are also surprisingly good for you, packing a number of compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Unfortunately, commercial trail mix generally has a lot of added nasties. The raisins are often coated with extra sugar and sulphites, a food preservative that can have adverse health effects.
Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès was a French chemist who invented margarine in 1869, after responding to a challenge from Napoleon Bonaparte to create a butter substitute for the military and lower-class citizens. Originally made from beef tallow, the recipe was eventually amended and modern margarine is made from a blend of refined vegetable oils. At one point, margarine was considered healthier than butter, due to the latter’s high content of saturated fat. However, whilst it gets good scores in the saturated fat department, margarine contains high levels of trans fats, which it turns out are even worse for heart health. A single tablespoon of margarine can contain over two grams of trans fat, making standard butter the healthier choice.
Raisins and yogurt both pack impressively high levels of nutrients and healthy compounds. One could thus be forgiven for assuming that yogurt-covered raisins would be the perfect choice of snack for health-conscious consumers, as it seems logical that a product made by combining two healthy things will still be healthy. Unfortunately, despite the fact that they have weaselled their way into health food aisles the world over, yogurt-covered raisins are actually pretty bad for you. This mostly comes down to the yogurt coating, which is injected full of unholy amounts of sugar. In fact, a single serving of yogurt-covered raisins packs around 19 grams of the stuff.
It’s no secret that sugar is bad for you. It wreaks havoc on your insulin levels, setting you up for diabetes, and has been linked to a huge range of diseases, from cancer to depression. Unfortunately, it also tastes fantastic. We are biologically hardwired to love sugar, as our bodies can immediately convert it into energy. This is why when artificial sweeteners were invented they seemed like a miracle product, allowing people to indulge their sweet tooth without suffering from the adverse health effects of sugar. Unfortunately, it has emerged that sugar substitutes come with some serious drawbacks of their own, such as messing with your blood sugar levels and increasing cravings, wreaking havoc on your gut’s microbiome, and potentially even increasing your risk of cancer.
Hedgehogs are undeniably cute, and the thought of eating them seems unconscionable. Not to mention the spikes. However, that calculus might be changed somewhat if it turned out that hedgehog meat had healing properties, and unfortunately for the spiny little mammals, this is exactly what people used to believe. A German cookbook from the mid-15th century titled ‘Das Kochbuch des Meisters Eberhard’ (Master Eberhard’s Cookbook) recommended the consumption of hedgehog meat as a cure for leprosy. It also recommended dried and powdered hedgehog intestines as a cure for UTIs.
The idea that red wine is good for you dates back to studies from the 1970s, which found that French people were less likely to suffer from heart disease than other Europeans, despite them eating more saturated fats. Since the French also tend to drink a lot of red wine, a tentative correlation was made, and people have clung to it ever since. Wine does contain some healthy compounds, including polyphenols, which are good for your heart, and resveratrol, which might have some anti-aging benefits. However, most of the health benefits are outweighed by the well-documented drawbacks of alcohol, and drinking wine every day can quickly lead to dependence. In short, whilst the odd glass of red wine is fine, and possibly even healthy, there are much better ways to look after your heart.
The idea that multigrain bread is healthy hinges on the assumption that more varieties of grain must mean more nutrients. However, most types of grain have fairly similar nutritional profiles, so adding more varieties doesn’t really achieve a great deal, except for allowing companies to get their products into the health food aisle. Additionally, many multigrain breads are made from refined flours, which strips away the fibre and leads to spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Instead of going for fancy products boasting seven different types of grain, look for simple breads made with whole grains.
A Roman speciality, hippomane is harvested during the birth of a foal. Closely resembling placenta, the hippomane’s job is basically to store toxins that are formed inside the allantoic sac during pregnancy, making it about the last thing you’d want to eat willingly. However, the Romans were cheerfully unaware of the hippomane’s biological role, instead viewing it as a convenient snack to boost virility. Before you judge them too harshly, consider that in recent years there has been a growing trend of celebrities eating their own placentas after giving birth.