Oh Cosmopolitan, you’re a fashion magazine, and it’s about time you learned to stick with your topic.
Cosmpolitan writer Yvette D’Entremont, which sucks because she runs the pretty OK Twitter account SciBabe, who I like because she often attacks the pseudoscience blogger Food Babe, seems to kick science in the nuts when it comes to writing posts showing “healthy” foods that that allegedly really bad for you.
Maybe I am wrong here, maybe this whole post she wrote is one big joke that she has, and is just playfully mocking extremist health nuts, which is something I have no issue with. But she lays down a TON of claims that are just unsubstantiated by much of anything. And because some people are bound to believe her, I decided to do a critical analysis of her claims.
For her first of the seven, she mentions Kale.
“Too much kale can actually be dangerous. Kale can seriously f*ck up your thyroid Oh, kale no.
Kale has a compound in it called thiocyanate that, in high amounts, severely interferes with iodine metabolism, which can, in turn, result in hypothyroidism. Eating too much kale in an effort to lose weight can actually lower your metabolism (and affect a lot of other things that your thyroid controls). The condition is not common, and drinking kale juice seems to pose the biggest risk.. “
I don’t even like Kale, but what real science does SciBabe have to support this claim? Not a lot. In fact, she only links to two articles, both by the same website, For the first link the news report mentions a single study attacking kale for it’s thyroid goiter effects, which was published in 1974 and is hidden behind a paywall.
Another claim is that:
In some reports in the press, juicing kale is the real culprit. “Although it has not been specifically studied, juicing kale concentrates the vegetable and thus potentially poses a greater risk toward iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism if ingested in large amounts on a very frequent basis,”
Not only do I not care about press reports as opposed to scientific studies, but I would also like to know how “juicing kale concentrates the vegetable.” I mean, sure, if you would eat 6 kale leaves, but drink 40 leaves of pure kale juice. But nobody does that, juicing usually involves combining the kale with berries, apples, citrus, ginger, celery, etc. And I am not even pro-juicing, I find that it is almost as much empty calories as soda pop, and is completely devoid of wonderful fiber and vitamins found in the skin, which is why I add the skin when I am baking an apple pie, or mking apple sauce.
In comparison, a systematic review was done on the safety of cruciferous plants, which includes kale, and concluded with this:
To further this field of investigation, we conducted this systematic paper to determine the safety parameters surrounding the use of cruciferous plants. In this regard, our review identified adverse events in 1335 individuals, out of a total of 101,198 individuals who were included in all studies. Of these, 1292 adverse events were ranked as only possibly or unlikely to be caused by cruciferous plants.
But… but… I thought kale “seriously f*cked up” my thyroid? While eating MASSIVE amounts of foods high in thiocyanate’s can interfere with iodine absorption, resulting in goiter, you are literally going to eat a TON of kale in a short amount of time to get any significant thyroid effects. But if you’re REALLY worried, don’t eat kale, I much prefer Romaine Lettuce myself.
But then there’s this: Avocados are f*cking fattening.
The alleged standard serving size for 50 calories? It’s one-fifth of an avocado. Who the hell puts one-fifth of an avocado on their taco salad? Monks, that’s who. You put that entire 250 calorie bomb on your well-balanced kale salad and say, “Oh, it’s healthy fat,” before eating the salad that, I’m sure by now, has as many calories as a Big Mac.
That’s really all she has against avocados, “it has too many calories!” Not much of an argument at all, because seeds and nuts also are high in fat and calories, doesn’t make them bad food.
Some research suggests that saponins, a naturally occurring chemical in quinoa, cause stomach discomfort and damage your stomach lining.
I dislike Quinoa, as not only does it taste bad, but it is also one of the long list of foods that I can’t dijest as I have horrible GERD, so most grains are off limits for me. But is what she is saying accurate?
Research has indeed shown that these compounds in high enough doses can harm you, and this really low chance of stomach upset can easily be mitigated by washing your grains in cold water, and by simply cooking the grains. But you know what else contains saponins? Kidney Beans, Soy beans, Navy Beans, Chick Peas, Legumes, Peanuts, Tomatoes, Potatoes… it’s a very common proponent is almost every plant, quinoa is of no exception.
“Gram-per-gram, they have the same number of calories [As a Starburst] and almost the exact same number of grams of sugar. They’re not nutritionally the same given the goji berry’s wealth of vitamins, but if you’re watching your weight or if you’re diabetic? Your pancreas will view these as candy.”
I have never consumed Goji Berries, so I decided to look up their nutrition and make a comparison. One cup of Goji berries is 180 Calories, but it also contains about 7 grams of protein. In comparison, per cup, Blueberries have no protein, half the calories, but more sugar, and two times the amount of fiber (8 grams vs 3.5 grams). Miracle berry? Probably not, but is a pretty healthy berry. The fiber counteracts much of the added sugars anyways, unlike candy.
potential for severe gastrointestinal side effects. That cute thing chia seeds do in almond milk when they puff up? They do that in your body too, and the side effects can be painful. They even landed a guy in the ER for expanding post-ingestion and obstructing his airway.
“Potential” is the key word. The man in question had a history of severe medical issues, such as issues swallowing, asthma, and allergies. It did not help that he ate the chia seeds first, and THEN the glass of water, so the “puff up” happened in his esophagus, not in his stomach. So chia seeds are great for people who aren’t stupid.
I did not mention Salmon and Local Produce, which was on this list, simply because what she says about them isn’t wrong. She makes good points and does not provide misinformation on those two points. Salmon does have Mercury and should be eaten less often, and local produce really isn’t any better than conventional.
And this ending by her struck very true:
The point is not that any of these foods are dangerous for you, it’s not to buy into fear or hype about food. Eat a balanced diet and don’t worry too much when diet guru tells you that the next thing chock full of buzzwords is going to kill you. The diet gurus who tell you that these are healthy one day and killing you the next are probably the problem, not the solution. Unless it’s rife with foodborne illnesses, odds are that your next meal is not going to kill you. Not even a locally sourced kale and quinoa salad topped with chia seeds, avocado, salmon, and goji berries.
She makes good points, but it seemed like she had to try REALLY hard to find ANYTHING at all to make these 7 foods sound awful. “This fruit has sugar” or “This one has too many calories” at least are non-arguments, but to make bold assertions, such as ‘quinoa may damage your stomach lining’ or ‘your pancreas views berries just like it does skittles’ is just flat out misinformation.
And it would be a much better article if it was sourced by scientific articles, but alas: Shape, EndocrineWeb, LiveScience, or CommonHealth takes the place of any actual study.
Then again, this could just be a joke article, which I hope it is. I am hoping she was parodying many unsubstantiated claims made by many others on the internet who use non-scientific sources, but I doubt it. But many people are going to view it has legit, and I put my foot down when it comes to unsubstantiated claims.