Crickets and charcoal and snails ó oh, yuck.
Donít forget the bones.
Meet the ingredients for the most popular health trends ó unappetizing as some seem ó so far in 2015.
Popular, however, doesnít necessarily equal smart. What should you know before you slurp the bones, guzzle the charcoal, eat the crickets and exfoliate with the snails? Following is a rundown of those trends, collected from health publications and websites, with analysis from a panel of local experts:
University Medical Center dietitians/nutrition experts Sally Saban, Barbra Wilson, Wendy Harrell, Shane DeMille, Kristin Hasting and Peter DiPrete II; Damon McCune, coordinator of the UNLV Nutrition Center, and Susan VanBeuge, an assistant professor at the UNLV School of Nursing; and Dr. Ronald Hedger, assistant dean of clinical skills training at Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine.
? TREND: ďBulletproof coffeeĒ
Claims: Touted as an all-day energy boost, this concoction ó in which your coffee includes a helping of grass-fed butter ó bottoms out at 450 calories.
DeMille: Thereís a distinction between regular butter we get at the store and grass-feed cow butter. The cow feeds on grass, so there will be better fatty acids and itís not going to result in heart disease like regular butter would. The more orange color the butter is, the better fatty acids it contains, instead of the pale butter youíd find at the store.
McCune: The concept was youíre getting calories from the butter and youíre getting fat that will give you a sustained bit of energy, but the problem is all the calories are from saturated fat. The caffeine is a vasoconstrictor (narrowing the blood vessels) and the increased saturated fat could clog the arteries, so it could be a compounding effect, adversely.
Hedger: Itís becoming more common to put butter on things like doughnuts and everything else. For years weíve said to try to avoid the real butter. But it actually fills the person up ó and weíre talking about a pat of butter, not pound of lard. It gives a creaminess to the coffee and it provides a very fast energy boost. And the key to this thing is it keeps you full. Your appetite is decreased for longer throughout the day. But the downside is it adds 300 calories to your coffee.
? TREND: Cricket flour
Claims: Nocturnal crawlies are pounded into a flour-style powder, used in desserts and protein bars and reportedly rich in iron, B12, calcium and protein.
DiPrete: Itís a great source of protein with lower environmental impact as opposed to poultry, and it is not uncommon in a lot of other places in the world. Just the Western world is a little slow to catch on to using insects as protein. Itís not crazy.
McCune: Claims about the nutrients in them are probably true and probably high in fiber.
Hedger: If you were out in the wild and ate crickets, you would do quite well. It wouldnít fill you up, but it would give you protein. You see it in energy bars. Itís pretty popular.
? TREND: Bone broth
Claims: Made by boiling down beef, fish and poultry bones, it purportedly yields shiny hair, eases joint pain and improves digestion.
Wilson: There may be small amounts of nutrients in it released from the bones in the boiling process. Whether that actually translates into any health benefits is questionable. Thereís no research to support it. They are probably just making a lot of money off inexpensive broth.
Saban: Bone broth has been around for thousands of years. When I think back to the beginning of my food service career, 30-plus years ago, we were taking the bones from chickens and turkeys and using it in the production of other foods. Itís just into a new trend cycle.
Hedger: The nutrients in the bone marrow itself improve your digestion, it can help allergy symptoms, and it can boost your immune and brain health. Itís really high in things like amino acids and the glycine, which helps the bones.
? TREND: Drinking charcoal
Claims: Reportedly recommended for its detoxifying effects and popular at juice bars.
VanBeuge: In the hospital, sometimes weíll use activated charcoal if someone takes an overdose of something, and it absorbs bad things.
Hedger: Itís not like barbecue charcoal, which is made out of coal. This is made more of detoxified stuff that you swallow and it absorbs toxins. It can even lower your cholesterol, treat excessive gas and diarrhea. Some people have tried charcoal from the barbecue ó theyíll get mostly sick on that.
Wilson: The thinking is that the porous nature of the charcoal is going to absorb and extract toxins out of the body, but thatís not true at all. I think it comes from the fact that activated charcoal is used in the environment for cleanup, but that doesnít mean it will do the same things for the body.
Itís not going to differentiate what it can extract from the body, if in fact it does that, so it can be extracting good nutrients from your body, too. I think theyíre making lots of money off of something that is not helping people.
? TREND: Snail facials
Claims: Snails slither over your face ó scratching with their 14,000 teeth ó leaving behind slime reportedly packed with nutrients and antioxidants that leave skin fresh and supple.
VanBeauge: I think itís popular in Thailand and some of the Asian countries. I lived in Japan for a few years, and the snails over there carry some diseases that are deadly. But I imagine they use snails that are OK for facials.
Hedger: That is very true. It comes from Japan. After they slime you up, they massage the stuff in. But it will help exfoliate in dead skin cells and ease inflammation. The live snails on the face hasnít been sanctioned in the United States, which doesnít mean itís not done. But itís approved in anti-aging creams.
? TREND: Bee pollen
Claims: Some scientific studies suggest it keeps colds and allergies at bay, curtails food cravings, helps skin tone and even fights cancer.
Hasting: Itís not a miracle supplement, and itís not snake oil, either. The research-based evidence is it can help men suffering from prostate problems and mitigate the effects of radiation damage from high-dose treatments. Gram for gram, bee pollen has 50 percent more protein than beef, and seven times the amount of iron than beef, but it is very low in fat.
It is very rich in things like copper and zinc. But it completely lacks vitamin B or vitamin K and itís very low in vitamin E, so itís not a perfect superfood.
Hedger: A lot of people confuse bee pollen with natural honey. But thereís no bee pollen in natural honey. The bee pollen is harvested from the body of the bee near the mouth. When they pollinate flowers, itís not near the mouth. This stuff is safe if taken short term. People can go overboard with it. But it does have really high vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. It improves asthma. Itís not safe for pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding. Someone who is allergic to bee stings, stay away from bee pollen. Itís like a supercharged bee. It can increase bleeding problems. If youíre allergic to bees, you could actually die from it.
? TREND: Tiger nuts
Claims: Also known as ďearth almondsĒ because theyíre grown underground, they are purportedly high in healthful fats and natural sugar, improve energy and circulation, and prevent heart disease.
Harrell: There hasnít been scientific evidence on health benefits. Itís just a healthy snack. Itís not a nut; itís more in the potato family, 100 percent gluten-free, nut-free, allergen-free and dairy-free.
It has a sweet, nutty flavor. It is a rich source of energy, minerals and potassium, high in vitamin E and C. But itís recommended you eat one or two pieces a day because it can cause bloating. They are also really hard because theyíve been dried for about three months, so you have to soak it in water anywhere between 12 and 24 hours. This is not something you buy in the bag and start chomping on.
? TREND: Full-fat foods
Claims: Theyíre healthier than low-fat foods, which can cause sore joints, inflammation and dry skin.
McCune: If itís low-fat or fat-free, youíre typically replacing it with a lot of sugar to replace some of the flavor, so most of the time theyíre not reducing the calories. If you want to have cheese, have some cheese; just donít have the whole brick of cheese. Your hair, skin and nail health, and your joints are very dependent on your fat intake. It does a lot of things in our bodies. Aside from gender-specific hormones, it insulates all our organs and itís our second form of fuel. Anybody who has ever tried to go on a low-fat diet for any extended period of time, usually itís pretty miserable.
Hedger: With low-fat, you get increased weight because you think you can eat more of it. You need fats and things that have calories ó but not the superduper Big Mac deal, where you get five patties. Like most things, itís about moderation.