Experts

Are your smoothies making you fat? We quizzed the experts to find out whether your health habits are REALLY good for you

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Food truths

We’ve all heard that grazing is better than three square meals and HIIT classes are the top way to improve your fitness, but is it actually true? Fabulous finds out

FROM grazing v three square meals to coconut oil v olive oil, Fabulous consulted the experts to bust the most common food myths.

Prepare to be shocked.

Smoothies v Whole Fruit

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Smoothies are a quick way to get several of your daily fruit and veg portions in one hit – but it’s not necessarily as healthy as people think

THE CLAIMS With calls for our daily intake of five portions of fruit and veg to be upped to 10*, it’s easy to see why smoothies and juices are popular – cramming several servings into one drink has never been easier.

THE TRUTH “It’s far more preferable to chew fruit and veg,” says author of How To Lose Weight Well, Dr Xand Van Tulleken.

“Blenders and juicers get in the way of the health benefits of fruit and veg, because they chop up the fibre, so it’s not as good for your gut.

“Plus, they break up cells, meaning sugars are released quicker.

“Your body reacts to the sugar in a blended orange as it would a fizzy drink.”

THE WINNER: WHOLE FRUIT

Coconut Oil v Olive Oil

 Coconut oil has been hailed for its health benefits, but studies show it contains more saturated fat than pork lard

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Coconut oil has been hailed for its health benefits, but studies show it contains more saturated fat than pork lard

THE CLAIMS We’ve gone crackers for coconut, with the fruit’s oil heralded as healthier than that from olives and nuts.

One reason is its high smoke point (the temperature at which a fat starts to smoke, releasing chemicals such as aldehydes, said to contribute to cancer).

THE TRUTH A study by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that, at 82% fat, coconut oil contains much more saturated fat than butter, beef fat and pork lard. As a result, the AHA “advises against the use of coconut oil”. Regular olive oil is just 14% saturated fat, but still has a high smoke point, meaning it’s ideal for everyday cooking – and your waistline.

THE WINNER: OLIVE OIL

HIIT v LISS

 HIIT workouts might not be as beneficial as you thought

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HIIT workouts might not be as beneficial as you thought

THE CLAIMS From Joe Wicks’ online sessions to your local gym’s classes, high intensity interval training – AKA HIIT – is hot right now. It involves short, gruelling bursts of cardio followed by small rests, burning around 400 calories per 20-30 minute session, according to Virgin Active.

Conversely, low intensity steady state (LISS) exercise includes gentler-paced but continuous activity, such as jogging, walking or Pilates, all of which burn as many calories, just over a longer period of time.

Fitness coach Joe Wicks breaks world record for largest ever HIIT session

THE TRUTH It seems the tortoise really does come first. LISS exercises can be just as effective as HIIT for long-term fitness. Last year, a University of Bath study looked at how the intensity of exercise affects our fat tissue.

“It showed that what matters is how many calories were used up by exercising in total, not the intensity of the exercise sessions,” explains Dr Jean-Philippe Walhin, research fellow at the University of Bath.

“Lower impact cardio will take twice as long to accomplish similar things as HIIT, but if you find an exercise that’s manageable then you’re more likely to work harder and stick to it,” adds Carly Yue, personal trainer with DW Fitness Clubs.

THE WINNER: LISS

Grazing v Three Square Meals

 Studies show eating three square meals is better for you than grazing throughout the day

Getty Images

Studies show eating three square meals is better for you than grazing throughout the day

THE CLAIMS Thanks to some experts believing that mini meals could turbo-charge how quickly you burn calories, the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner pattern has been pushed aside in favour of tiny snack pots from supermarkets and tapas-style small plates at restaurants.

THE TRUTH Lots of small meals might not be as good for us as first believed. Research in the journal Hepatology showed a diet with frequent meals boosts fat around the waist and in the liver. Another study, at University Hospital Coventry, asked participants to eat two or five meals a day, and found no difference in calories burned.

“Eating three good-quality meals a day means you won’t have any episodes of severe hunger so you won’t be tempted by unhealthy snacks,” says Dr Van Tulleken.

THE WINNER: THREE SQUARE MEALS

SNACK ATTACK

Are these kids’ lunchbox favourites as healthy as you think?

POPCORN V RAISINS

“Popcorn kernels can damage teeth, and trapped husks can irritate gum tissue, attracting bacteria that can harm gums or lead to decay,” says Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific advisor to the British Dental Association. But raisins aren’t a better option for kids’ pearly whites.

“When we eat, the bacteria in the mouth start producing acids that cause decay and, because raisins are high in sugar, they send them into overdrive,” says Professor Walmsley.

After a healthier alternative? Try Emily Veg Crisps (£1.19, Ocado.com).

THE WINNER: NEITHER

CEREAL BARS V FRUIT YOGHURT

Look at the ingredients on the packet, advises nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville.

“There can be up to 8tsp of added sugar in a fruit yoghurt, and many cereal bars contain added sugar, too,” she says.

The healthier options are bars made by Nakd (£2.40 for four, Sainsbury’s) and Organix Goodies Soft Oaty Bars (£2.50 for six, Tesco).

“Choose ones with nuts or seeds for longer-lasting energy,” Marilyn explains.

For a healthier dairy option, go for natural yoghurt with a handful of fresh blueberries.

THE WINNER: NEITHER

STRING CHEESE V CHEDDAR CHEESE

String cheese is as much a feature of kids’ lives as fidget spinners. But while they contain added calcium and vitamin D, these bendy sticks can be highly processed, with lots of salt (although Dairylea Strip Cheese, £2.50 for eight, has slightly less than others).

“A matchbox-sized piece of organic Cheddar, would be better,” explains Marilyn.

THE WINNER: CHEDDAR

Source: *Imperial College London

Visit Marilynglenville.com. Natural Solutions For Dementia And Alzheimer’s by Dr Marilyn Glenville (£12.77, Lifestyle Press). How To Lose Weight Well by Dr Xand Van Tulleken (£15, Quadrille).




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