Breaking Food Myths: Part 1
Nutrition is an ever evolving beast. What was healthy yesterday (let’s think juice) is now a disgraced food and what was once the cornerstone of bodily destruction (let’s think saturated fat) is now known to have some pretty amazing health benefits. In today’s blog I want to go over some foods that were once, and still are, marketed as healthy that you should probably avoid like the plague, and some foods that have been demonized that you should no longer be afraid of eating*.
Foods you shouldn’t eat but are marketed as healthy:
- Fat-free, Low-fat, or reduced fat foods. People often think that fat-free, reduced fat or low-fat equals healthier. This is usually not the case. When fat is removed from naturally high fat foods such as cheeses, milk, salad dressings, yogurts, and nut butters, it is often replaced with sugars and other artificial and unnatural ingredients to replace the flavor lost by removing the fat. These low-fat items are, more often than not, more harmful to your health (and weight loss goals) than the original.
- Yogurt – specifically reduced fat and/or flavored yogurts. I’ve already discussed why you should avoid reduced fat foods but even if you are getting the full fat version of flavored yogurt or yogurts bought with added fruits, you are getting a product loaded with sugar. I am a huge fan of full-fat greek yogurt, but we will get to that shortly.
- Any processed food substitutes. There are a ton of foods marketed as being healthy because they are vegan, gluten free and/or organic. A vegan, gluten free, or fully organic diet can be a healthy one but not if it is saturated with processed food substitutes. Vegan replacement foods such as cheeses and meats are often more processed and contain more artificial ingredients than non-vegan alternatives. Many people believe ‘gluten free’ and ‘organic’ to be synonymous with ‘healthy’ but this is also not always the case. Gluten free and organic junk foods can be just as, if not more, processed than gluten containing or organic counterparts. If you are following a vegan, gluten free, or organic diet, make sure you are choosing natural foods. If it has an ingredient list, chances are it is not a healthy alternative.
Foods you should no longer be afraid to eat:
- Saturated fats. Bad science and dirty lies led to the belief that saturated fats are bad for us and should be avoided at all cost. We now know that not only is this not the case, but that moderate saturated fat consumption is actually good for you! Saturated fat is important for your health across the board. It is beneficial to brain, cardiovascular, lung, liver, and nerve health.
- Greek Yogurt. A good quality, plain, full-fat greek yogurt, that is. If you can handle dairy, I am a huge fan of greek yogurt. It is a good source of protein, fats, and probiotics. Buy it plain and made with whole milk and it is extremely versatile. Add some honey, berries, and nuts and you have a delicious breakfast bowl (or a healthy dessert substitute). Out of sour cream? Greek yogurt. Salmon for dinner? Greek yogurt+lemon juice+dill is a DELICIOUS dressing for salmon (and you will find it on our menu from time to time).
- Butter. Not only does butter make just about everything better, in moderation it is also good for you! A few great things about butter**: It is high in vitamins A, E and K. The saturated fat in butter is made up of short and medium chain fatty acids which are burned for energy and not stored as fat and also help to keep you feeling fuller longer. Butter is also a great source of butyrate which is crucial for gut health. It feeds the cells lining the colon and helps to regulate the growth of the cells of your intestines. Butyrate also has strong anti-inflammatory properties which can help prevent certain cancers and gut diseases.
- Egg yolks. Egg yolks have been given a bad rap mainly for their cholesterol content. Until recently, it was believed that a diet high in cholesterol would lead to high blood cholesterol. Cue the ever famous “healthy” egg white omelet! Cholesterol is necessary for a number of cellular functions and if you are not getting enough through diet, your body will make its own. Most of our bodies are also pretty good at regulating blood cholesterol levels. If you suffer from high cholesterol it may be due to your lifestyle but probably not because you’re eating too many egg yolks. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help to lower high cholesterol. Now that we know that dietary cholesterol has a limited effect on most people, we can look at the benefits of eating the yolk. Egg yolks contain more vitamins and minerals than the whites, they are a good source of choline which helps to promote heart and cardiovascular health, they contain antioxidants that are beneficial to eye health, and they are a great source of protein!
So there it is, Part 1 of Breaking Food Myths. Be on the watch for future blog posts about other foods you should or shouldn’t avoid and we will see you back next blog!
*If you suffer from serious medical conditions or are under the care of a physician please talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet.
** Preferably from grass fed cows, Kerrygold is what we use.