Mythbuster 3.0 – Caffeine Edition

This month, since we’re on the topic of matcha, tea and caffeine in general let’s look at some common sayings about this chemical and how true they are.

  1. Caffeine is dehydrating: Sort of.

Caffeine itself is a mild diuretic (i.e. it makes you run to the restroom more), that’s a proven fact. However, since most of the caffeine you consume tends to be in liquid form (tea, coffee, colas), the water used to make them generally makes up for any slight dip in hydration the caffeine may cause. So while your cuppa will make you pee more, it probably won’t dehydrate you. We say probably however, because while the amounts of caffeine in a cup or two of coffee won’t cause any negative effects, having more than 3 cups may cause dehydration as the effects of caffeine are compounded. TL;DR – Caffeine can cause dehydration of your intake is too high.

  1. Coffee can stain teeth: True.

Our tooth enamel has lots of tiny ridges and cracks, and the dark pigments from caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea or sodas can become embedded in them. However, this happens over a prolonged period and is easy to avoid! Try rinsing your mouth with water after drinking such beverages, or drink through a straw. If nothing else, a quick visit to the dentist, or using DIY teeth whitening methods can also do the trick.

  1. Decaf means no caffeine: False

Decaf doesn’t mean totally caffeine free! For example, decaf coffee still contains about 20mg of caffeine. This is much less than a regular cup of coffee that tends to have about 100mg of caffeine. But still, about 5 cups of decaf would add up to a regular drink.

  1. Caffeine is bad for health: False

In fact, intake of caffeine has been linked to lowered risks of various diseases and cancers, like skin cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, Alzhimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression and many more. However, as is true of most things, moderation is key! A cup a day is no miracle cure, but will probably do no harm either.

  1. Caffeine is addictive: Sort of.

Caffeine is mildly addictive in the sense that it’s a stimulant for the nervous system that your body can learn to depend on. Due to this physical dependence, giving up high doses of caffeine can cause withdrawal symptoms like headaches and difficulty concentrating, as your body has become used to certain chemical reactions. However, there are no long term negative effects of giving it up, and the body is generally able to adapt to normal caffeine-free levels soon. This is why most experts don’t qualify caffeine as an addictive substance on the level of drugs or alcohol.

Fat Is Our Friend! – Mythbuster 2.0

F-A-T. One of the most controversial 3-letter words in the English language. We’re not here to judge anyone’s lifestyles or bodies, we’d only like to dispel one of the longest held beliefs about fats in food. Fat has often been portrayed as the ultimate dietary nemesis and most people have been trained to choose low-fat foods over high-fat ones.

However, fat is actually an essential part of any healthy diet and necessary for a strong body and mind! The key lies in which fats you choose to eat, healthy or unhealthy. Healthy fats – namely mono and poly unsaturated fats help to reduce bad cholesterol, keep your heart in good shape and benefit insulin levels. Unhealthy fats, of which trans fats are the worst and saturated fats partially so, increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

So where can you get these good fats and avoid the bad ones? Most of the sources of healthy fats are common knowledge, so we’ll list them out for you here:

  1. Avocado: Versatile, delicious, cholesterol free and jam packed with monounsaturated fats
  2. Nuts: One to the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially walnuts. Also rich in other vitamins and minerals, depending on the variety
  3. Nut & Seed Butters: An easier way to get all the fatty goodness of nuts.
  4. Olives & Olive Oil: A cup of olive contains 15g of fat, and one tbsp. of oil contains 14g.
  5. Fish: Oily fish like salmon, trout, tuna etc are full of omega-3 fatty acids.
  6. Dark Chocolate: Contains healthy fats, anti-oxidants, vitamins A, B & E… we could keep going!
  7. Tofu: Along with healthy fats, one serving of tofu contains almost a quarter of your daily calcium needs.
  8. Eggs: An inexpensive source of unsaturated fat, protein and choline.

Unhealthy fats on the other hand are generally found in the usual culprits – processed and fried foods. When purchasing food, look out for terms such as ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oil on the nutrition label. Those are just fancy terms for hiding trans-fat, which is completely unnatural, produced under complex chemical conditions and extremely bad for you. It’s the common prevalence of these trans-fats and their adverse health impact that gives all fat a bad rap!

While saturated fat is not as harmful as trans fat it is still believed to increase cholesterol, which in turn can cause a host of other problems. In other words, while unsaturated fats are actively healthy, saturated fats are now considered neutral to the body in the within the correct quantities. These are hence best had in moderation, up to 15g per day. Common sources of saturated fat are butter, cream, red meat and cheese.

So that’s the low down on fat – the good, the bad and the ugly. However, one thing that we would like to reinforce is that just like the right friends, the right fats are in fact extremely beneficial for you! Most dieticians would recommend up to 20-35% of you daily calorie intake coming from fat, for a normal individuals diet. Some celebrity nutritionists like Rujuta Dwivedkar even promote the intake of healthy fats like ghee! So let’s not demonize all fat and instead make informed, conscious decisions to replace the bad with the good in our diets.

 

Mythbuster 1.0 – Berries

Keeping in line with the berry theme this month the Foodstree team looks to bust some myths regarding them.

Don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge a berry by its looks! While a perfectly symmetrical, big, spotless berry might look the most tempting, it might not be the best choice in terms of taste and health. Here’s why a) symmetricity and b) size aren’t the best basis to buy fresh berries:

  1. Uniform berries don’t automatically mean that they are of good quality. Symmetricity is generally a sign that they have been bred in high volumes for commercial purposes. Such berries look great while presenting or garnishing, but tend not to be as flavourful or juicy.
  2. The same goes for size – when it comes to berries, bigger doesn’t mean better! As a rule, bigger berries have less flavour and nutrients. A larger berry will also have a lower skin-to-water ratio, and it’s the skin where most of the nutrients lie.

Our advice would be to buy your fresh berries from a reputable and trusted source, where you can be confident that they have been grown with good practices, care and natural methods. Farmer’s markets are an excellent place for such purchases – the fruit might not be as pretty or large, but will surely be tastier and better for you!

Foodstree Pro Tip:

Don’t wash your berries until just before eating. Moisture speeds up the spoiling – so store them in a clean, dry place and they will last longer.