Foods that aren’t healthy for us are always getting their place in the spotlight. Really, I think the media would rather announce how bad something is for us rather than give us some good news. Let’s face it – scare tactics sell. But there are quite a few foods that people think are unhealthy but aren’t actually that bad.
Keep in mind that anything is not healthy if you eat it in excess.
Here are 6 healthy foods that you may have been avoiding unnecessarily.
Red Meat: I know, it has been taking a beating in the media lately due to the WHO announcement. But red meat, in moderate portions and lean cuts, is absolutely fine and a fantastic source of protein, zinc, and B vitamins. Sure, red meat contains saturated fat, but a varied diet that’s healthy has a full profile of all fats (besides trans fats – we know those are bad for us and no one is disputing that). You’ll never eat a diet that’s saturated fat free, nor should you.
In short, there is no reason to avoid red meat unless you’re vegan or vegetarian.
Farmed Fish: I’m going to put a disclaimer in here: farmed fish can be great, but it can also be really gross. What a lot of people don’t realize is that not all farmed fish is disgusting – and not all wild fish is clean.
You really need to consider the aquaculture of the location the fish is coming from. I generally avoid all farmed and wild fish from Asia, and this includes shrimp too. Especially shrimp. Not only is the aquaculture over there questionable, but the fishing industry – so not even farmed fish – is rife with horrible treatment of fishermen.
Fish farms/aquaculture in Canada, Scotland, Iceland, and Norway, for example, are tightly regulated. I always look for the sustainable seafood logo where the fish is being sold, so I know that the farmed fish I’m buying is at least done so responsibly. The logo looks like this:
So don’t paint all farmed fish with the same brush and let the fact that a fish is farmed discourage you from eating it. All you have to do is explore where it’s from.
Potatoes: I can’t say anything bad about potatoes, even though lots of people seem to avoid them because they’re ‘fattening’. There’s nothing fattening about potatoes except for when people mash them with cream and butter and eat a plateful of them.
Besides being a source of fiber (mostly in the skin), vitamin C, and potassium, potatoes increase satiety of meals, so they can actually help you eat less. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that most people eat potatoes in their fried form, which obviously is not what I’m talking about when I tell you to eat more potatoes.
Pasta: When clients tell me about their reluctance to eat pasta, I always tell them my story about Italy, where, as you know, pasta is a major part of the diet.
A long while ago, I went to Italy. Determined to buy a pair of pants, I searched for days but couldn’t find any pants that fit me. They were all too small (at least the ones I actually wanted), and in those days I was about a size 4-6. I actually cried in Sisley (the store) because I was so frustrated. What does this say about the Italian diet (including pasta)? I mean, the entire diet and attitude towards food in Italy are both very different than ours, but it says a lot when people can eat pasta often and still remain slim. There’s a difference though in the way they eat it – and we should take note – when Italians eat pasta, it’s generally in servings of around 1 cup, not Olive Garden all you can eat low quality food gluttony. In short, there’s nothing inherently wrong or unhealthy about pasta, but people tend to eat too much of it here in North America. Once again, it comes down to portions. Keep your pasta to 1 cup at meals, or if the pasta is your meal, limit it to around 1.5 cups in total.
Coffee: Unless you have high blood pressure or are pregnant, you don’t need to avoid coffee. Actually, coffee is a source of some pretty powerful antioxidants, and research suggests that it can help prevent Parkinson’s, diabetes, and colon and liver cancer. You do, however, need to watch what you put IN your coffee. I’ve seen people drinking 700 calories a day in cream and sugar in their coffees, which I know sounds unbelievable but is actually a true story. 1-2 cups of coffee a day seems to be ideal for the preventative properties and also just for common sense; if you’re using coffee to stay awake and alert, maybe you should examine your diet/sleeping habits to see what else needs to be fixed.
Bananas: Please stop saying that bananas are fattening. I’m sick of hearing it and it’s totally not true. Bananas are healthy, and that’s all I need to say about that.