There are some common foods that us dietitians often find ourselves having to bust myths around. For whatever reason, over time, certain foods seem to have acquired an incorrect label as being ‘bad’. Here are the top ‘bad foods’ that are actually good for you.
Yes, this humble root veg is a fairly potent source of carbohydrates. But that doesn’t need to be a bad thing! Carbohydrates are a beneficial and healthy part of a balanced diet. In fact, they’re recommended – in the right portion sizes. One fantastic quality that white potatoes bring to the table is their beneficial fibre content, particularly when consumed with the skin on. Not only that, but when cooked and then allowed to cool before eating, potatoes provide something known as resistant starch. Resistant starch is a type of fibre that resists digestion and acts as food for our gut bacteria. This assists in creating and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. But it doesn’t stop there! Potatoes contain a number of micronutrients such as vitamin C, potassium and iron. A general suggestion is to fill approximately ¼ of your plate with potatoes when consuming them. Opt for baking, boiling or roasting your potatoes versus eating them deep fried. Like everything, always use extra virgin olive oil to cook potatoes as your oil of choice.
Dairy notoriously gets a bad rap. Yes, there are some people who have a dairy intolerance or allergy. But, unless clinically indicated, there is no need to avoid dairy! Not only is dairy a fantastic source of protein, it also contains key nutrients such as calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and zinc. These are all essential for maintaining numerous structures and functions within the body. Dairy is also commonly fortified with vitamin D in Australia. If you suspect you may have issues with dairy and/or lactose there are plenty of good alternatives to choose from. Ensure you choose an alternative which is fortified with calcium, and ideally high in protein such as lactose-free milk/yoghurt or soy milk/yoghurt.
The key to optimising the nutritional quality of bread is to pass on the white varieties, and instead select wholegrain options, Hint – the browner and seedier your bread looks, the better! Wholegrain varieties of bread provide us with fibre, which is great for gut health, satiety and prevention of certain diseases. Wholegrains also add micronutrients into our diet such as B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and iron. Aussie breads are also fortified with iodine. Bread can serve as a fantastic foundation for building a balanced meal – just remember to pair it with protein, fruits or veg, and a sprinkle of healthy fats. Now that’s healthy! An additional dietitian tip would be to look at the nutrition label on your bread. Aim for at least 3 grams of fibre per serving, and no more than 400-500 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams.
Nuts are often knocked for their high fat content and therefore their relatively high energy (kilojoule or calorie) content. It’s true, you don’t want to overconsume them. The recommended serving size for nuts is about 30 grams. At this amount, you’re more likely to experience their fantastic benefits! Nuts are full of health monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fats, and are are low in saturated (unhealthy) fats. They also provide protein, fibre, and a vast array of vitamins and minerals. Moral of the story – eat your nuts! We suggest choosing the unsalted options to avoid excess intake. And no, you don’t need to soak them or remove the skins, unless you sincerely prefer the taste. The skins on nuts provide phytochemicals that help with boosting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory factors in the body.
Yes, even the yolk! Eggs are a very nutrient dense food. The yolks do contain cholesterol, but cholesterol is not an inherently bad thing. In fact, our bodies need some cholesterol. Not only is cholesterol required for our cells to be as healthy as possible, cholesterol also helps with the production of vitamin D, with the creation of certain hormones, and with the production of bile acids. It’s important enough that if you don’t consume cholesterol through your diet, your body will increase its own production of it. Research shows that consuming dietary cholesterol in the form of egg yolks does not impact blood levels of cholesterol. Did you know that it is actually saturated fats that have more of an impact on our blood levels of cholesterol? Please note though that there is a suggested weekly maximum intake of 6 eggs per week for those with cardiovascular disease. Otherwise, enjoy eggs freely and know that they’re providing you with protein, vitamin D, choline, B12, selenium and carotenoids.
Are there any other food myths that need busting? Reach out and let us know!