Bad foods that are good for you
I may be a nutritionist, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to the sensationalism whipped up by food media, in some cases akin to food propaganda. I read an article recently which claimed that coffee was really bad for you; it made a convincing argument, so I pledged to ditch the coffee. Of course the following day I was confused and secretly delighted, when I came across new research that highlighted coffee as a superfood. These contradictions understandably slip through the proverbial scientific net because we are dealing with such a complex subject. Coffee may be good for you, but it also has components which are bad for health. The real question is just how bad it is – can you have a moderate amount or should it be banned completely?
With so much conflicting information, it’s no wonder so many people are brainwashed and confused about the goodies and baddies in their food cupboards. It’s easier to eat what you feel like, when you feel like it and ignore the papers! However this ‘not giving a damn’ attitude can catch up with your weight and health. It’s important to be well informed about what we are putting into our bodies.
The blame for food confusion should not be laid fully at the doors of well-meaning scientists. Much of the bad rap is actually traceable to celebs promoting their latest ‘miracle diet’. One recent case was Mischa Barton’s take on the Gluten free diet. A Gluten free diet is not a lifestyle choice, it’s a medical necessity, but Mischa excluded gluten from her diet and thanked it for her weight loss. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and oats, so by avoiding it you end up excluding lots of healthy and nutritious foods. Avoiding foods or nutrients to lose weight is misguided and potentially dangerous.
I am going to list some muddied foods that aren’t actually as bad for you as you have been lead to believe.
Three million people in the UK suffer from osteoporosis. The Dairy Council recommends that we aim for 3 portions of low fat dairy per day, but the fact is that we aren’t eating enough dairy and so our calcium intake is falling short of what it should be. A lot of people don’t want to eat dairy because they are worried that it will lead to weight gain. This is true, but only if you eat lots of it and that’s why I recommend that you choose the low fat versions only. Choosing lower fat versions like ricotta, Edam, Brie, Camembert and low fat cheddar over full fat cheddar, will help you to cut down on fat and calories without affecting calcium intake.
Eggs were given a hard time throughout the 90’s, but they are slowly getting their good reputation back. Deservedly so, a recent study showed that eggs were an ideal breakfast food due to their high protein content. We also know now that they don’t increase our cholesterol levels.
Too much pasta will leave you feeling stodgy, but too much of anything will take its toll! Pasta is actually rich in complex carbohydrates which are a fantastic energy source and on top of this pasta is low in fat. Pasta is relatively inexpensive and easy to prepare, so smart people are eating it. Bulk up the nutritional punch of pasta and add in lots of veggies or even a tomato sauce.
In recent years potatoes have been replaced by trendier staples, like cous cous, quinoa, rice and pasta. Don’t get me wrong, they are all fantastic foodstuffs, but potatoes deserve their place on your plate too. Potatoes are one of the first foods that those keeping an eye on their weight cut out. Far from being fattening, a cooked new potato has only 26 calories and is packed with nutrients.
This fruit is high in fat and calories, so you might wonder why not swap it for a lower fat, lower calorie fruit. The fat in avocadoes is actually very good for you and as long as you don’t go overboard you can include them in your meals, benefitting your heart health. Crudités with guacamole make a deliciously satisfying and heart-friendly snack.
Many of us shy away from nuts because of their high fat content, but these fats are mostly unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated fat. This type of fat actually decreases the level of “bad” LDL cholesterol and helps maintain the desirable levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. The April 2001 issue of Metabolism reports that a diet rich in nuts, vegetables, and fruits may reduce cholesterol levels as much as medication. As nuts are high in calories try to stick to no more than 6 or 7 (30g) nuts per day.
In case you are wondering, dark chocolate and red wine have benefits too!
It’s all well and good understanding the benefits of foods, but it’s important to listen to your own body too. Eat everything in moderation and stay sensible!
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