Are you relying on almond milk to get your daily calcium intake or canned tuna for omega 3?

You may need to think twice, warns leading nutritionist Rob Hobson in an interview with the Daily Mail.

While they do contain some essential nutrients, Hobson believes their good-for-you powers have been over-exaggerated.

All unprocessed foods in their natural state are healthy and should be included as part of a healthy balanced diet.

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And food companies cannot make a claim of being healthy unless they stick to strict guidance laid out by the EFSA in Europe, or USDA in America.

But in some cases, Hobson warns, their nutritional benefits may be misunderstood or over-reported.

Whilst there is definitely no reason to eliminate any of these foods from your diet, relying on them to boost your intake of a specific nutrient may be misleading.

Here, Hobson, co-author of the Detox Kitchen Bible, explains which foods to be wary of, and what might be a better alternative...

1. Spinach

There are other sources richer in iron than spinach. Photo / Getty.
There are other sources richer in iron than spinach. Photo / Getty.

• Known for:

Iron

• You need:

10-15mg iron per day

• Spinach gives:

2.2mg ironper 80g serving

• Better option:

Red kidney beans, 6.6mg iron per 80g serving

This nutritious green vegetable is a rich source of vitamin C, magnesium, folate and vitamins A and K.

But it is best known as being a rich source of iron - helped along by a huge PR boost from the Popeye show.

However, while it is a useful source, it does not contain as much iron as other vegetable sources.

An 80g serving of spinach provides 11 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron.

However, the same amount of edamame beans provides 15 percent of your RDA of iron.
Even better, a similar serving of red kidney beans provides 17 percent of your RDA.

2. Canned tuna

Eat tuna fresh rather than canned to get the most nutrients. Photo / Getty.
Eat tuna fresh rather than canned to get the most nutrients. Photo / Getty.

• Known for:

Omega 3

• You need:

At least 450mg omega 3 per day

• Canned tuna gives:

271mg omega 3 per 100g serving

• Better option:

Salmon, 2,250mg omega 3 per 100g serving

For many of us looking to boost our omega 3 levels, canned tuna seems an easy solution - it lasts months unopened, and can be thrown into any salad or sandwich.

However, due to the canning processing involved, much of the omega 3 is lost.

A survey of 1000 people carried out by leading supplement brand Healthspan found that 58 per cent considered canned tuna to be a good source of omega 3.

Compared to other fish, however, the health benefits are minuscule.

For every 100g of canned tuna, you get 271mg of omega 3.
Fresh salmon, on the other hand, contains eight times that amount - around 2,250mg of omega 3 per 100g.

That said, canned tuna can be a rich source of protein, niacin and vitamin B12.

3. Cod

Salmon is the king when it comes to omega 3. Photo / Pexels.com.
Salmon is the king when it comes to omega 3. Photo / Pexels.com.

• Known for:

Omega 3

• You need:

At least 450mg omega 3 per day

• Cod gives:

160mg omega 3 per 100g serving

• Better option:

Salmon, 2,250mg omega 3 per 100g serving

Ultimately, salmon is the supreme when it comes to omega 3.

Another misconception is that many breeds of white fish are thought to be just as nutritious.

The Healthspan survey showed that 33 percent of people considered cod to be a good source of omega 3.

But a 100g serving contains only 160mg compared with salmon at 2,250mg.

Cod is a rich source of protein and a source of vitamin B6 and B12.

4. Eggs

Eggs should not be your sole source of Vitamin D. Photo / Pexels.com.
Eggs should not be your sole source of Vitamin D. Photo / Pexels.com.

• Known for:

Vitamin D

• You need:

400 International Units vitamin D per day

• Eggs give:

35IU vitamin D per two-egg serving

• Better option:

Eggs + supplements

Eggs are rightly touted as one of the few foods high in vitamin D. But it is not enough alone.

While you may think a two-egg omelette is a solid dose of vitamin D, that barely scratches the surface.

According to official guidelines, we need to consume 10 micrograms of (or 400 International Units) of vitamin D. Two eggs provide just 35 International Units.

Eggs are a rich source of protein and riboflavin as well as being a source of B12.

5. Quinoa

Who knew quinoa was a seed? Photo / Getty.
Who knew quinoa was a seed? Photo / Getty.

• Known for:

Protein

• You need:

About 56g protein per day for sedentary people

• Quinoa gives:

8g protein per 180g serving

• Better option:

Greek yogurt, 23g protein per 8oz serving

This "pseudo-grain" is in fact a seed, which is why it has a good protein profile containing all the essential amino acids.

This is a great food for vegans who may struggle to get a full range of amino acids in their diet.

Whilst it's often reported as being a rich source of protein and is certainly useful, it only contains 8g per 180g serving.

That means it is classed as a source and not a rich source of protein, according to the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) food labeling guidance.

Quinoa is a source of folate and iron as well as being a rich source of magnesium.

6. Almonds

If you consume plant-based milks like almonds, make sure to eat other calcium-rich foods. Photo / Pexels.com.
If you consume plant-based milks like almonds, make sure to eat other calcium-rich foods. Photo / Pexels.com.

• Known for:

Calcium

• You need:

1,000mg calcium per day (different for pregnant women and elderly)

• Almond milk gives:

80mg calcium per 25g serving

• Better option:

Tofu, 434mg calcium per half-cup serving

Like other nuts, almonds are a highly nutritious food and valued addition to the diet.
Nuts are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats that are good for the heart.

Almonds are often reported as being a rich source of calcium but a single 25g serving only contains around 7 percent of the RDA.

Whilst this still contributes to your daily intake you can't rely on this nut if you don't eat dairy foods (richest source of calcium).

If you choose to replace cow's milk for any plant-based alternative such as almond milk, then look for brands that fortify with vitamins and minerals (especially calcium).
Almonds are a source of riboflavin and magnesium as well as being a rich source of vitamin E.

7. Honey

Honey may not be as sweet for you as you think. Photo / Pexels.com.
Honey may not be as sweet for you as you think. Photo / Pexels.com.

• Known for:

Being the :"healthiest sweetener"; supposedly "rich in iron"

• You need:

1,000mg iron per day (different for pregnant women and elderly)

• Honey gives:

To get just 3.5mg (15 percent) you need to consume 750g honey

• Major caveat:

750g honey equates to 123tsp added sugar - 20 times the daily limit

• Better option:

No sweetener

This is the most naturally sourced form of sweetener and considered by some to be a healthier choice.

However, it still contains 17g (3.4tsp) of "added sugar" per tablespoon. That is 56 per cent of the recommended limit of 6tsp per day.

Honey is also often touted as being rich in minerals. Whilst the most abundant might be iron, you would need to eat 750g to provide a source (at least 15 percent of the RDA). That, however, would equate to 123tsp of "added" sugar.

Bottom line is that there is no such a thing as a healthy sweetener and all of them should be used in moderation.