Think you know what fare is bad for you? Think again...
If you haven’t heard the health benefits of moderate consumption of dark chocolate and red wine by now, you must be living off-grid. It turns out, however, that there are many more so-called treats to add to the weekly shop. We’ve researched some firm favourites that may surprise (and delight) you.
Do you opt for reduced fat versions of your favourite foods in an attempt to be healthier? These could be doing more harm than good to your diet. “Often low fat products are high in sugars, which is not a good thing if you’re on a weight management campaign,” says Nutritionist Rick Hay. “Foods that are natural contain the most nutrient density. Full fat foods assist with the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K and essential fats help with hormone balance.” Whether it’s yoghurt, milk or cream, choosing full fat every now and then is no bad thing.
If you believe potatoes equal piling on the pounds, you’re missing out on a nutrient-rich vegetable with many health benefits. A great source of vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B6, this energy-rich carb is also sodium and cholesterol free. “Potatoes are a good option as a cheap, naturally fat-free and nutritious ingredient,” says Registered Dietitian Sian Porter. “A fist-sized baked potato with some lean protein and salad is perfect for when you feel like tucking into some comfort food, but still want a healthy option.”
When you’re trying to lose weight, the accepted advice is to avoid cheese. But new research has revealed you might not need to refrain from the cheese board after all… A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen discovered that eating cheese increases levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (a good cholesterol) which is thought to help protect against metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Meanwhile, another study in Japan found that the dairy favourite stopped fat accumulating in the liver. It’s also thought to help reduce obesity thanks to cheese’s butynic acid levels. So, perhaps it’s not time to throw away the Cheddar just yet.
Pasta has long had a bad rep for making you gain weight, but is it all bad? Rick explains that this cupboard staple, “is a good source of energy and fibre, contributing to healthy digestive function. It is also a good source of the antioxidant selenium, which is beneficial to cellular health and contains manganese that assists with carbohydrate metabolism. It has good levels of some B vitamins and contains some healthy carotenoids, too.” Just watch your portion size, Rick warns, and team with colourful veg and plant-based protein.
Do you often swap butter for a vegetable spread? While these have their health benefits, you don’t need to banish butter from your diet completely. Nutritional Therapist and Functional Medicine Practitioner, Caroline Sherlock from eatdrinklivewell.com reveals that, “butter is a source of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. For those who genetically can‘t convert betacarotene to vitamin A efficiently, eating butter is an easy way to ensure a regular intake of the essential nutrient.” And that’s not all: “Butter is a good source of butyric acid, an important short chain fatty acid that nourishes cells in the intestine. Plus, unlike vegetable-based cooking oils, butter doesn’t easily oxidise, and a high oxidant diet can be damaging to our health.” Switching to organic may be healthier, too. “Many of us are deficient in omega-3,, and organic butter contains small amounts of these essential anti-inflammatory fats,” Caroline adds. Perhaps buttered toast isn’t such an indulgent snack after all…
In the past, if you were trying to cut down your cholesterol intake, eating eggs regularly was a no-no. But if you’re still sticking to this line of thinking, you could be lacking in essential nutrients and goodness. Linda Main, Dietetic Adviser to HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity says: “Eggs are an inexpensive protein and a good substitute for other animal proteins because of their lower saturated fat content. Although the yolk is rich in cholesterol we know that dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol.” The breakfast classic is packed with easy-to-digest protein and is a great source of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and riboflavin so there’s no need to miss out on egg and soldiers (wholegrain, naturally!) tomorrow morning.
You could be doing your body and mind a lot of good if you kickstart your day with a cup of Java. “A strong black coffee can be a healthy asset to a balanced lifestyle, in moderation,” says Dr Sarah Schenker. “It improves alertness and concentration by virtue of its caffeine content. In addition, studies show that the risk of type 2 diabetes is lower among regular coffee drinkers than among those who don’t drink it.” There are other benefits, too: “Coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, discourage the development of colon cancer, improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of liver damage in people at high risk of liver disease, and lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease.” It’s also a great choice before you hit the gym, as it encourages fat cells to be used for energy, as well as helping boost your endurance and focus. Time to put the kettle on?