Exploring food fads: The nutritional value of bone broth, celery juice and more

March 27, 2019

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By definition, a food fad is a strong, popular enthusiasm for a particular food. It might travel to your table from another culture or time period (think hummus and ancient grains), or it may be a food that suddenly develops a following. Kale is a great example of a vegetable that was once considered a garnish and, once word spread that it offered multiple health benefits, is now a regular ingredient in numerous dishes. Some foods achieve fad status due to marketing promises of amazing health benefits, but how do you know which claims to believe? And how do you know what will work for you, personally? Let’s explore some benefits and downsides of current food fad favorites. 

Bone broth 

Winter weather and spring breezes chill our bones, so a hearty bowl of low-calorie bone broth sounds warm and wonderful. But just how wonder-full is it for your health? Does bone broth go beyond regular soup to provide anything special in nutritional value? First, be aware that it’s really stock – not broth. That means it’s cooked longer to break down the cartilage until there’s a lot of collagen-rich gelatin. You might see benefits such as: 

  • Immunity support. Research shows that chicken soup can relieve symptoms of upper respiratory infections. Old-fashioned chicken soup uses stock, which reduces some mild inflammation.  
  • Nutrition. Plenty of protein for your skin, hair and nails. It may be able to protect and repair aging joints with collagen. It’s also rich in calcium, magnesium and vitamins. 
  • Digestion and sleep aid. The amino acids present in bone broth can be beneficial for some gut issues and help improve your quality of sleep. 
  • Weight loss support. This rich, filling broth is low-calorie yet satisfying. 

Many benefits are listed, but some precautions are in order.  

  • Limited science. There aren’t many studies to support the above health claims. Also, no two recipes are alike, so you can’t expect the same nutrition. 
  • Salt. If you’re on a salt-restricted diet, check the sodium levels on prepackaged bone broth or make your own low sodium version.  
  • Cooking safely. If you’ve put a pot on the stove to simmer for long hours, never leave it unattended. 

Final takeaway on bone broth: Bone broth cooked with cartilage from beef, chicken or fish can be a healthy addition to a well-balanced diet. Add vegetables for increased nutrition and be sure to check the sodium levels if you’re on a restricted diet. 

Celery juice 

Celery has long been appreciated for its benefits related to weight loss and heart health, but what happens when we juice it? As it turns out, celery juice offers these health benefits: 

  • Nutrition. Celery juice contains good amounts of vitamin C and vitamin K. It also provides folate and potassium, which are important to keep you healthy.  
  • Disease protection. There’s some evidence that nutrients in celery juice can help fight cancer and liver disease. 
  • Reduces inflammation. It may help with acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, eczema and other inflammation symptoms. 

Unfortunately, there are some distinct disadvantages to celery juice that you should consider.   

  • Cost. The price of prepared celery juice is much higher for its relative nutritional value than a simple stalk of celery. Also, the cost of a juicing machine far outweighs any benefits. 
  • Concentrated candy. Well, not candy, exactly, but the small amount of sugar naturally present in a celery stalk is concentrated in juice form to add calories you don’t need. Furthermore, for all that extra sugar, celery juice tastes bitter. If you mix in other juices to make it taste better, you’re adding even more calories. 
  • Lost fiber. One of the key advantages to eating a celery stalk is its insoluble fiber. Juice machines strain that out, and with that process you lose celery’s most valuable health benefit.  

Final takeaway on celery juice: Stick with the stalks. Juicing your celery offers some benefits, such as increased vitamin concentrations, but the loss of fiber and added sugar make this expensive concoction a bitter (not better) choice for good health. 

Oat milk 

Oat milk is finding a following in the United States, having been a favorite in Europe for some time. Its pleasant flavor and health benefits are making it a new fad food in the U.S. Here are some of the many benefits oat milk offers: 

  • Tasty milk alternative. It provides a creamy, sweet, yet low-fat option for those who can’t drink dairy milk. 
  • Fiber. While cow’s milk has no fiber, oat milk provides two grams per serving. 
  • Nutritious. It’s packed with B vitamins, thiamin, folate and minerals. 

Oat milk has some issues to consider.  

  • Higher in carbs. This isn’t necessarily bad, since its carbohydrates don’t come from fat, as it does in nut milks. 
  • No calcium or vitamin D. These common benefits from milk aren’t naturally present in oat milk, but can be added. 

Final takeaway on oat milk: Our taste for plant-based foods is growing, so oat milk will probably develop into a standard option for those who can’t drink dairy, soy or nut milks.