By Ann Sullivan
Various reports on what’s good and what’s bad for you seem to change with the proverbial tide as years go by. For consumers, this can be nerve wracking and confusing at best. Recent studies have revealed that certain things once deemed taboo, have now been found to be good for you. Keep in mind, with any foods, the more natural state, the better. It’s recommended to choose varieties which are free from additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients. It is further advised that you should check with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet. You may be surprised to find some things you’ve been avoiding aren’t bad for you anymore.
Once thought of as a source bad for the heart and full of artery clogging cholesterol, eggs are now viewed as having healthy benefits and being nearly the perfect food source. A recent study by scientists revealed that eggs raise our good (HDL) cholesterol. In fact, they are loaded with protein, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals which aid in cell, brain, nervous system, memory and metabolism functions. Egg protein also aids in muscle development and prevents muscle loss. Medical News Today reports eggs contain all necessary daily vitamins and minerals to produce energy in all cells of your body. The A and B12 vitamins, along with selenium, are vital to keeping your immune system healthy. This in turn plays a role in preventing certain diseases. Eggs are also beneficial for healthy eyesight, weight loss and maintenance, hair and skin appearance, as well as preventing birth defects.
There was a time when the general thinking was coffee and the associated caffeine was bad for us. Many people stopped drinking it, or switched to decaf. Recent studies have shown that drinking coffee has many benefits. Coffee has a very strong antioxidant capacity. It can prevent Type 2 Diabetes in those who drink 2 or more cups daily. Coffee contains minerals like magnesium and chromium, which aid the body in using insulin, therefore regulating blood sugar (glucose) levels. A recent study by the National Institute of Health has also found that people who drink coffee are less likely to develop heart and respiratory diseases. Studies have also indicated that coffee may protect against certain cancers. Additionally, researchers found those who drink at least two cups of coffee a day have a 65 percent less likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s Disease later in life.
3) Whole Milk & Dairy
The original thinking was that whole milk and dairy products like cheese and yogurt contain unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Public health agencies all agree now that whole milk products are healthier than their low-fat counterparts. When the fat is removed, so are the vital protein and calcium nutrients. In fact, recent studies have found that the whole fat found in dairy products may prevent Type 2 diabetes. A recent report in Men’s Health reveals that milk is the one of the best muscle foods on the planet. Milk contains fat soluble vitamins – specifically A, D, E and K. This means they are stored in the liver and tissues, thereby processed by the body more slowly. This allows the nutrients to be used rather than washed out, as is the case with water soluble vitamins. There is no conclusive evidence that consuming the lower-fat counterparts of dairy have any health benefits.
Old school thinking dictated salt can kill you by causing high blood pressure and other issues. In fact, salt is essential to good health. Not consuming enough salt can cause premature death. It contains iodine, a necessary nutrient for a healthy thyroid. In fact, salt contains at least 60 necessary trace minerals. Keep in mind, this is real salt which contains the vital minerals; not processed sodium. Unrefined salt, such as sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, supports a faster metabolism and speeds the elimination of stress hormones associated with weight gain. Another little-known fact is salt is a natural antihistamine and can be used to treat an allergic reaction by placing a pitch under the tongue. Unprocessed salt also aids in digestive functions and regulates blood pressure and sugar levels. It can help clear nasal congestion, which is why saline spray is a common sinus treatment.
Chocolate, in its pure form, is now reported to have a variety of benefits; especially the dark assortment. This is also referring to the natural, unprocessed types that are not laden with artificial flavors and ingredients. Dark chocolate has recently been found to contain powerful antioxidants which can prevent clogging of the arteries. Recent medical reports further reveal that eating small amounts of dark chocolate can help to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of strokes and heart disease. Chocolate lovers will be happy to know that dark chocolate can also boost memory and increase brain function. It’s also a natural sun protectant, as the flavonoids contained in chocolate increase blood flow, skin density and promote skin hydration. It’s advised to choose chocolate with a minimum of 70-85% cocoa. This variety is loaded with minerals and contains a fair amount of dietary fiber as well.
So, where’s the beef? What happened to that commercial and why did it suddenly become an unhealthy choice? Beef seems to have gotten a bad rap in years gone by. In truth, according to the USDA, there are 29 cuts of lean beef available on the market today. Beef contains essential nutrients like protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Half the fat found in most cuts of beef contain the same heart-healthy fats as olive oil. This is not to suggest that you stockpile beef and eat it every day. Everything in moderation is key. Eating beef once or twice a week, however, can provide necessary proteins which aid in proper organ function, as well as supporting a strong immune system. Web MD recommends that you choose the leaner cuts and remove visible fat. It’s the meat protein, not the fat, that you will benefit from.
Potatoes were put on the “no, no” list in times gone by. In fact, they were once thought of as poisonous and completely inedible. Medical News Today reports that potatoes, in their unprocessed natural form, are packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that ward off disease. They’re one of nature’s whole foods. One medium-sized potato has about 164 calories, no cholesterol, a negligible amount of fat and contains protein and dietary fiber. They are also a good source of vitamins C and B6, iron and potassium along with phosphorus, niacin, folate, choline and zinc. They are naturally low in sodium and contain alpha-lipoic acid, which aids your body in converting glucose into energy. Recent evidence revealed that this acid can help control blood sugar levels, and preserve brain and nerve tissues. The flavonoid Quercetin found in the skin contains powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant capabilities as well.
8) Coconut Oil
One labeled as unhealthy, coconut oil, when left unprocessed – meaning not partially hydrogenated, can cure many ailments. Unprocessed, unrefined coconut oil is making a comeback. It’s another product which was once deemed an “unhealthy fat.” Saturated fats are, however, being revealed by researchers as being something that lowers bad cholesterol. Studies have indicated that people who consume large amounts of natural coconut oil have been found to have fewer instances of heart disease. Coconut oil is a staple in many countries outside of the U.S. With this new information, however, it seems to be on the rise again among American consumers. Coconut oil contains rich amounts of lauric acid, which has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-microbial and antibacterial properties. Recent studies indicate coconut is good for our bodies, whether ingested or used topically. It can be used as a skin moisturizer to reduce lines and wrinkles, as well as a hair conditioner.
Once considered a bad cholesterol food, the thinking on shrimp is changing as well. If you’re not allergic to shellfish, adding shrimp to your diet has many nutritional benefits. Shrimp is high-protein and low-calorie. One boiled shrimp is only 7 calories, which means if you ate a dozen, you’d only be consuming 84 calories. Add a little cocktail sauce, and you’re still under 150 calories. Shrimp is nutritious and delicious when sautéed, baked or broiled. It contains key nutrients, including daily values of 100% selenium, 75% vitamin B12, 50% phosphorus and 30% choline, copper and iodine. Shrimp also contains two natural types of anti-oxidants. Selenium is helpful for the immune system, proper thyroid function and fights free radicals – which cause damage to our DNA and can lead to premature aging and illnesses. Astaxanthin, which gives the shrimp its color, has been reported to have anti-inflammatory properties which help prevent disease.