Food Is Not Your Enemy


“Unhealthy” Foods That Are Actually Healthy

Nutritional science changes—often. One day we’re told a food is good for us, the next day we’re told it’s bad. The opposite is true as well—sometimes a food that we’re told to avoid turns out to be quite good for us. Here are four such foods we need to remove from the nutritional “doghouse” based on the latest scientific findings …

Butter. If you grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s like I did, then you likely kept margarine in your fridge rather than butter. Everyone knew that butter was bad for you, and that margarine was better for heart health. Unfortunately, it turns out we were dead wrong.

Margarine is made up of trans fats, and we now know that trans fats are way worse for our hearts than saturated fats. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, your risk for developing heart disease increases by 30 percent if you regularly consume trans fats as opposed to butter (or even lard).

And butter—especially butter from grass-fed cows and raw milk butter—contains many important nutrients, such as vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, lecithin, and trace minerals. So throw out those tubs of margarine and spreads made from overly processed vegetable oils and use butter!

Eggs. Stop tossing out your yolks. The most recent research finds that the cholesterol in egg yolks raises our levels of good cholesterol, not bad cholesterol. And egg yolks are extremely nourishing—they are one of the few foods that contain a good amount of vitamin D, as well as vitamin A, the beneficial long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA, choline, and many micronutrients. Some people pass on the yolks thinking that eating just the whites will help them lose weight. But an egg only has about 70 calories.

Beef (from pasture-raised cows). While we shouldn’t necessarily gorge ourselves on lots of red meat every day, there is a place for beef in an omnivore’s diet, especially if that meat comes from pastured animals as opposed to those raised on factory farms. There is a ton of protein in beef, and many other nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and magnesium. But grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat and higher in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and conjugated linoleic acid than grain-fed beef (a.k.a. “regular” beef in your supermarket). Grass-fed cattle are generally pastured on smaller farms where they’re not pumped full of steroids and antibiotics, which is better for our health as well.

Dark chocolate. Studies have shown that dark chocolate containing a high percentage of cocoa (70 percent or more) has many health benefits. Thanks to the flavonoids and antioxidants found in cocoa, chocolate not only has the potential to lower blood pressure, but it also can reduce diabetes risk and improve cardiovascular health. This doesn’t mean that you should feel free to down a king-size bar, however. Even high-quality dark chocolate is full of calories. Savor just a few squares.

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