You’re down with acai, take echinacea on the reg, and consider coconut oil a mainstay in your home. But a new class of high-powered superfoods is pushing the envelope even further, making even the healthiest among us stop and do a double take. For starters, there’s Gwyneth’s pricy morning smoothie ritual (whose ingredient shopping list totals $200 thanks to so-called “moon dust”). And then there’s something called Blue Majik and…astrologically farmed eggs?
“We’re always looking for a quick fix, miracle ingredient or drug to cure our issues and make us healthier,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN and Founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition. “When we find something that sounds almost too crazy to be true, we assume it’s the next miracle worker and hop on board.” But not so fast, she says. “It’s always important to understand fully what we’re putting into our bodies before we do so.”
Find out if these hot health trends (and often hefty price tags) can live up to their claims.
5 Crazy New Health Food Trends
1. Astrologically Farmed Eggs
Yes, this is a thing, thanks to London’s uber cool Hemsley sisters. It’s the next step in biodynamic farming, where crops are planted based on the phase of the moon — and on 100 percent ethical, self-sufficient land. Think organic — x 100. For eggs, farmers use a moon almanac to birth healthier chickens, which supposedly lay super delicious eggs. But is all the extra hands-on attention worth it (and the extra 15 cents per egg)?
“Not using hormones or antibiotics in the process of growing chickens is definitely beneficial, but it may not differ from other organic methods,” says Smith. “No research really exists on this.” While Smith notes that eggs are a good source of protein and nutrients like lutein, which may prevent age-related macular degeneration, you don’t have to pay the astronomical price for these star-crossed eggs.
RELATED: The Dirty Dozen: What to Buy Organic
2. Blue Majik
Blue wine isn’t the only trendy blue food. Blue Majik is making its debut in everything from protein shakes to juice (like Juice Generation’s $10 “Holy Water,” complete with the blue-green algae) to blue (aka smurf) lattes. It claims to reduce inflammation and support healthy joints.
“This is basically spirulina, which is a source of chlorophyll, energizing B vitamins and iron,” says Smith. According to Smith, chlorophyll also includes nutrients like vitamins A and C and magnesium. “[Blue majik] contains a compound called phycocyanin, which may also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but research has been done widely in mice.” At $60 for 30 single packets, you might be better off sticking with your regular microalgae supplement.
There are plenty of magic mushrooms on the market, but this fungus that grows on caterpillar larva is the latest ‘It’ ‘shroom (and an ingredient in Gwyneth Paltrow’s morning smoothie). Advocates claim the fungus helps with oxygen uptake, stamina (on the field and in the bedroom) and recovery — not to mention boasts anti-cancer properties. Sounds pretty great, right?
Aside from its long use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, there isn’t really much science to back it up. “No research in humans has found any improvement in trained athletes,” says Smith. A study from Brigham Young University found that it did not improve performance in trained cyclists. As for the cancer and libido claims? Most research has been done in animals, not humans. Given its high price tag ($30 for 2.4 ounces), you can probably pass on this one.
Yes, it’s a mouthful, but the adaptogenic herb — aka Indian Ginseng — has been touted for everything from lowering cortisol levels to balancing thyroid hormones to fighting cancer. And yes, it’s also an ingredient in Gwyneth’s morning elixir. You can take it in capsule form or a bit of the powder or tincture to your daily juice or smoothie.
According to Smith, the herb has been used in Ayurveda and in many cultures for many years. “There has been some research that suggests that Ashwaganda may be beneficial in the areas of boosting immunity, joint health, adrenal gland support and hormone balance,” she says. “But more research in humans is needed.” If you choose to try it, remember it’s a powerful herb and may interact with other medications or herbs you may be taking. “Be sure to be in touch with your medical provider when taking it,” says Smith.
Ever since marijuana has gained favor in the medical community, it’s been shooting for superherb status. It’s been touted to improve athletic performance, relieve pain (including PMS symptoms) and reduce anxiety. Now, MJ is being added to edibles too – and we’re not just talking about pot brownies here. You’ll find cannabis-infused into coconut oil, teas and even canna-butter. Proponents also claim that it will help you detox. (Yes, there really is a cannabis cleanse.)
The tales of weed’s healing powers just may have some weight. Studies have shown that the herb may reduce inflammation. Smith says that one of the compounds in cannabis closely resembles the body’s natural endocannabinoids, which may mediate pain and provide PMS relief while suppressing headaches and helping with insomnia too. Research has also shown that marijuana may improve airflow to lungs by acting as a bronchiodialator. (Ironic, we know.) As for those detox claims? More research is needed. PS: Check your state’s cannabis laws before partaking!