KGUN 9News


Are kale and coconut oil truly miracle foods?

Posted at 10:19 AM, Nov 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-19 12:19:40-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - There always seems to be a new super food that helps fight disease or make you look younger.
Kale and coconut oil have been hailed by some as miracle foods, but what makes them healthy?
"When you look at a leaf of kale, you see really dark green vibrant colors and those literally are some of the anti-oxidants that are in that vegetable in that leafy green," said Hana Abdulaziz Feeney, a registered dietitian.
Studies shows that kale can lower cholesterol and reduce certain types of cancer.
"Kale is a great source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin A, and also a photochemical called lutein," said Stephanie McGinnis, a registered dietician.
While kale has definite health benefits, coconut oil is a bit more controversial.
"There's not a lot of research that proves that it can help with some of the claims like weight loss, or controlling diabetes, or reversing heart disease," said McGinnis.
"It's another oil that can be used in cooking, but it actually has anti inflammatory compounds in there," said Feeney.
While there may be anti-inflammatory compounds in the pulp, it's high in saturated fat and experts suggest it shouldn't be labeled as a health food.
For dieticians, like Feeney, food trends can be frustrating.
"Variety is key," Feeney said. "I think the downside to the food trend is the person that just doesn't like that food. So it's kind of a missed opportunity to promote dark leafy greens,"
Dark, leafy greens like bok choy or broccoli also have the same health benefits as kale, Feeney said.
Promoting a healthy diet is the reason Sunny Holliday opened 'Lovin' Spoonfuls, a vegan restaurant at 2990 N. Campbell Ave. Holliday says a lot of people who may not like certain vegetables, end up loving her dishes. She wanted to show people that you can eat your favorite foods, and make them healhty. The apple kale smoothie is popular, Holliday said, even if people hate the vegetable.
"If I can talk them into trying it, they love it," said Holliday.
At sixty years old, Holliday swears by a plant based diet.
"I'm one of the few people I know that are my age, that are not no drugs -- nothing. And feeling really good," Holliday said. "It's got to be the diet.
The bottom line? Not one super food will save you.
"Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. You'll hit on those different nutrients without having to single in on a food you don't like," said McGinnis.
Experts suggest buying organic kale if you can. It's a vegetable that contains high amounts of pesticide residue even after washing.