Deactivate this nutty health fad, please

06 September 2017 - 14:18
Activating nuts, seeds and legumes involves soaking and then re-hydrating them in order to get rid of naturally-occurring antioxidant compounds called phytates.
Activating nuts, seeds and legumes involves soaking and then re-hydrating them in order to get rid of naturally-occurring antioxidant compounds called phytates.
Image: iStock

Will the silliness of the so-called health food industry never stop? The newest fad (you may or may not have already started throwing your money at it) is activated food.

I thought food became activated by eating it. How wrong I've been all these years. 

Activating nuts, seeds and legumes involves soaking and then re-hydrating them. This gets rid of phytates, which are naturally occurring antioxidant compounds found in grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

The theory is that these evil phytates bind to minerals in our diet and make them less available. And so activating is all the rage.

There are problems with the whole deal, though.

First, anything activated is so bloody expensive that you can eat only half of what you normally would, so minerals being made more available is pretty pointless.

Second, there's no research done to show eating activated anything has a positive effect on health. Absolutely none (in fact, opposing theories - also unproved, of course - suggest phytates actually prevent certain diseases).

If almost your entire diet consists of nuts, legumes and grains, there might be an issue, otherwise forget it. Save your cash.

Looking for some activated wonder-food, I decided on the Cacao and Goji Berry Raw Activated Date Bites from Woolworths. And wow, this product is a veritable fiesta of vague "health" gumph.

First up, I'm told that there's No Sugar (the word "added", appears in teeny script beneath this). Read the nutritional info and you'll see that this date-derived sugar is 24.4g per 100g of product. Which means that gram for gram, there is more sugar here than in Coca-Cola. Sure, I might eat 100g of this more slowly than I'd drink 100g of a soft drink, but it's still kinda crazy.

And goji berries? There is no evidence at all, anywhere, that they're more nutritious than an orange or a much cheaper berry. And the retailers aren't actually saying there is. They don't' need to: once all the lifestyle magazines have praised the newest faddy food, based on thin air, we're primed.

Then there's the raw cacao. Another fad we're not yet rid of. A lot of clever people think there are good reasons to eat your beans roasted (which is what ancient cultures generally did), not least of which is to kill toxin-producing moulds that develop during fermenting.

The biggest problem of all with these faddy health creations is that, almost without fail, they're terrible in both taste and texture.

As always, I say just go for the dark Cote d'Or chocolate slab and get the caffeine and dopamine fix you're craving. Feeling satisfied and blissful, you'll move on and you'll be healthier because you're happier. In fact you'll quite probably feel activated.

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