For better or worse, we’re getting a lot of our information from TikTok these days. While sometimes this is dangerous — please don’t try a weight loss plan based on what TikTok says — at times it can reveal some fun health trends.
If you spent any time on TikTok this year, for example, you’ve probably come across the Baked By Melissa Salad at one point or another, or maybe you’ve even sipped on “healthy Coke.” There’s no shortage of health food trends on TikTok, but which ones are actually legit? And should you skip any of them altogether? We asked nutritionists, and here’s what you need to know.
Baked By Melissa Green Goddess Salad
Dreamed up by cupcake genius Melissa Ben-Ishay, this salad recipe that went viral on TikTok initially left many people sceptical. Sure, she can make a great cupcake – but can she really craft a healthy and delicious salad? The answer, according to nutritionists, is yes. This cabbage, cucumber and chive salad complete with a protein- and healthy fat-rich dressing is a great choice.
“This has some protein with the nuts and seeds, and it’s vegan — plus, it’s a good flavour,” says Vanessa Rissetto, registered dietitian and co-founder of Culina Health.
Registered dietitian Eleana Kaidanian adds that this salad is a definite yes in her book. “This recipe is macronutrient diverse with plant-based proteins from nuts and the nutritional yeast, fibre-rich carbs from the veggies and healthy fats from olive oil and nuts,” she said. “Use of nutritional yeast in any recipe that calls for it is a huge plus as it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein like those proteins found in animal-derived foods.”
She adds that beyond its nutritional benefits, she would recommend this recipe because it is easy to make and versatile in the sense that you can use it as a dip, spread or salad on its own.
Emily Mariko’s Salmon Bowl
Emily Mariko’s salmon bowl is arguably as popular as the Baked By Melissa Green Goddess Salad. Made with rice, baked salmon, soy sauce and spicy mayo (and sometimes avocado and kimchi) — and to be clear, there are a lot of different variations of it floating around — this passes Rissetto’s test because it’s healthy, fast, easy and has good flavor.
Kaidanian says that while she would recommend this recipe, she would also encourage mindfulness when using condiments and sauces, choosing low sodium when available, opting for wild salmon for omega-3 benefits and swapping the white rice for brown rice for increased nutrients and more fiber.
Healthy Cookie Dough
Cookie dough that’s healthy? This is too good to be true, right? The answer is probably yes. Made with oats, almond milk, protein powder, vanilla, maple syrup and a few more ingredients, Rissetto says that while this may be healthy, it probably doesn’t taste good.
“I’m certain this tastes like cardboard with a hint of vanilla and chocolate chips,” she says. “I guess technically it’s vegan if you get vegan protein powder and vegan chocolate chips and if you don’t care about taste – then this is for you.”
Lettuce Water For Sleep
While harmless, the TikTok trend of pouring boiling water over romaine lettuce leaves to make “lettuce water” for better sleep probably won’t cure your insomnia – and it probably doesn’t taste great, either.
“This is not a thing. There’s no evidence to prove it,” Rissetto says. “Instead, steep a banana peel in boiling water to help aid with sleep, or take magnesium before bed – that can also help you with digestion, as well.”
Baked Apples For Gut Health
Can baked apples really help improve gut health? Sure, Kaidanian says – there’s some truth to this one. “This is a great recipe. I love the added spoon of yogurt on top at the end for added protein and probiotics,” she says. “I would suggest trying it with the apple skin intact for added fibre and health benefits.”
Made with balsamic vinegar and sparkling water, it’s no secret that this viral recipe raises the eyebrows of soda enthusiasts everywhere.
“This recipe reminds me of the popular prebiotic sodas made with apple cider vinegar,” says Maggie Michalczyk, registered dietitian and founder of Once Upon a Pumpkin. “I’m all for a swap for regular soda, but the jury is still out on if this actually tastes like the real thing. If you like the taste I don’t think it’s bad to drink – if you don’t, don’t worry about it, and save your balsamic vinegar for salads!”
Coconut Cloud Smoothie
Made with spirulina, almond milk, coconut cream, banana, almond butter, pineapple, stevia and collagen, this popular blue smoothie is certainly beautiful. But is it good for you?
The answer, according to Michalczyk, is yes – for the most part. “This smoothie packs a lot of nutrition and is well-rounded with multiple sources of protein, fat and fibre,” she says. “I think it’s a fun smoothie to try recreating at home or at least use as a blueprint if you don’t have all of the ingredients. The pineapple and banana are great natural sweeteners, so I would skip the stevia.”
Avocado Hash-Brown Toast
Avocado hash-brown toast is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: avocado spread on top of hash browns instead of bread.
In addition to tasting great, Michalczyk says that nutrition-wise, it’s pretty good, too. “This recipe is a great balance of carbs and protein,” she says. “You’re getting high-quality protein as well as many vitamins and minerals from the egg, healthy fat from the avocado, carbs and other vitamins and minerals from the hash brown. I think it would be a great hangover helper as well!”
“Nature’s cereal” is made of berries topped with coconut water and ice cubes. As Michalczyk points out, it’s basically a fruit smoothie bowl.
“I am all for having berries and coconut water,” she says. “Nutrition-wise, this has lots of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. It’s basically a fruit salad or a deconstructed smoothie bowl that would be super refreshing on a hot day or post-workout.”
Because there’s not a lot of protein, though, she doesn’t consider it a substantial breakfast. “Pairing the fruit with almond butter would help to make it a more well-rounded snack,” she says.
Keto Pickle Chips
Regardless of whether you follow the keto diet, this trend can be a delicious snack. “This recipe calls for a layer of cheese on both the top and bottom of a pickle, baked until crispy and then paired with ranch,” she says “Although I don’t recommend the keto diet, you don’t have to be keto to enjoy these. I would say they’re a fun, low-carb snack option, and one suggestion is to use a plain Greek yogurt with ranch seasoning in order to make the dip a little more nutrient-dense.”
Long story short: TikTok is packed with health food trends, and more will likely emerge in the coming months. While most of these trends aren’t likely to hurt you, researching your recipe is always a good idea – especially if it comes with big health claims.