I talk plenty about so-called “healthy” foods that are anything but, so in this post I’m switching it up. There are many foods that have gotten a bad rap over the years, and they’ve really done nothing wrong to deserve it. The media and bogus health professionals are usually to blame for this, as one opinion can lead to an entire decade-long movement. Unfortunately, many people have banned these foods from their diets when they could be providing much-needed nourishment. Check out the most dissed on foods below and why they should be given a second chance.
“Evil” Foods That Really Aren’t:
- Eggs: The poor egg has had to deal with some serious hate. Cholesterol was all the rage in the 80’s and 90’s, and since egg yolks are high in cholesterol, they were quickly shunned and replaced with products like egg beaters (which have natural flavors and colors added). However, those with high cholesterol are better off blaming bad genes and greasy food than healthy foods that happen to contain cholesterol. Cholesterol in itself is not a bad thing, in fact our bodies need it to function. The cholesterol found in egg yolks won’t have a negative effect on overall cholesterol, and you’re missing out on an excellent source of protein, vitamins and omega-3’s if you ban them from your diet. Choose pasture-raised or cage-free eggs when possible.
- Butter: Many people consider butter to be synonymous with heart disease, and if you’re eating a stick a day, then that may be true. But butter is perfectly acceptable in small doses, and is much better than its fake butter counterparts. Margarine and other butter substitutes often contain trans fats and artificial ingredients, which are much more harmful to your health than the saturated fat in butter. Choosing butter from grass-fed cows provides your body with vitamins, healthy fats and good cholesterol, and we all know it tastes better than margarine. A small pat on your toast or in your saute pan won’t do you any harm, and will add excellent flavor.
- Full-fat Dairy: Fat went hand-in-hand with cholesterol as being widely hated for a couple of decades. It seems there is a low-fat or fat-free version of every dairy product on the shelves now, and these are still looked at as more favorable over full-fat dairy products. Low-fat and fat-free dairy contradicts itself though, because dairy is fat. When you take the fat out of dairy, you are left with a product that needs other ingredients added to make it dairy-ish again. These ingredients can take the form of sugar, flavors or other lab-made additives. Consuming full-fat dairy can actually help with weight loss and lead to reduced risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Eating fat doesn’t mean you become fat. And the omega-3’s, protein and vitamins in full-fat dairy will do your body good.
- Coffee: Oh happy day! Terrible studies years ago concluded that coffee increased your risk of cancer and heart disease. However, this was also at a time when a lot of people smoked a pack a day and ate a ton of unhealthy fast food, so you can see how the results may have been skewed. In reality, the antioxidants in coffee can reduce your risk of cancer and diabetes, keep your brain healthy and make you feel happier and more energized. Often, what we put in our coffee is more to blame than the coffee itself. Adding artificial creamer and sugars can easily make this healthy beverage a health nightmare. Keep it simple with a small amount of plain creamer and cane sugar, and choose fair trade coffee when available.
- Potatoes: I’m not going to sit here and argue whether or not potatoes are real vegetables, but they are certainly not an unhealthy food (unless they’ve been cut into sticks and deep fried). A small to medium potato coupled with a protein and some greens makes for a perfectly healthy meal. Potatoes have vitamins and fiber, especially when you eat the skin, and can lower blood pressure. The more colorful the potatoes, like purple, red or orange, the more vitamins and minerals you’ll get. Yes, potatoes contain natural sugars, but so do fruits, vegetables and grains. It’s all about moderation and preparing them in a healthy way. So go ahead and eat your potatoes!
- Nuts & Nut Butters: Yes, nuts are fats, but good fats! They are also a high-calorie food, but because they are so nutrient-dense, they’re not going to break your day if you eat them in moderation. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and omega-3’s. Portioning nuts out properly allows you to have a healthy, filling snack. And while peanuts are not technically a nut, I still include them in this category. Be mindful when buying nut butters though, as many will contain added sugars and oils. Your best bet is to find a store that lets you grind your own nut butter, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
- Salt: Often associated with high blood pressure and heart disease, salt may be one of the most fearsome foods we eat. And while those with existing high blood pressure should be mindful of their sodium intake, several studies have shown little correlation between moderate consumption of salt and high blood pressure or heart disease. Your body needs adequate amounts of sodium to function properly, and you can keep it in check by eating fresh foods you season yourself rather than processed foods that already contain a lot of salt. However, the type of salt you consume does matter. Avoiding refined table salt is best, as it can contain additives like aluminum and bleach. Instead, opt for sea salt or Himalayan salt when seasoning food.
Have you nixed any of these foods from your diet? Bring ’em back in! And leave a comment if you’d like.