Watch what you eat…

I finished the section about nutrition in class this week. The students received the introductory information which is pretty straight forward. Vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates haven’t changed much over the years. What has changed is which foods are the “bad” foods.

You know the ones, if you eat them you’ll have a heart attack, get cancer and high blood pressure while becoming obese.

Now while Americans do have big problems with these ailments, its difficult to pinpoint the food that is causing the most damage. Years ago, many different foods were demonized and we took them off our tables in an effort to be healthier. With further study, we found that now these bad foods turn out to be not so bad, some are even good for you. Here is just a small sample…

egg

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Eggs. They were taboo because they contain cholesterol. And everyone knows that too much cholesterol in your blood can clog your vessels and lead to heart attacks. However, it turns out that the egg’s cholesterol (dietary) is not the same as the clogging cholesterol in your blood. And the egg is packed with protein with several vitamins and minerals.

chocolate

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Chocolate. Remember when chocolate caused acne and made you fat? Well, now it turns out to be heart-healthy, but you have to come over to the dark side, at least most benefits seem to come from dark chocolate. There is a Swedish study that says chocolate lowers stroke risk and 90% of Swedish chocolate is milk chocolate, so maybe milk chocolate lovers still have a chance.

glass of milk

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Whole Milk. Now here’s one that hits right at my home. It wasn’t the milk that was bad for you, but the fat in the milk. So, the switch was made to skim milk. I had to slowly change from whole to 2% to 1% then skim. My boys grew up on skim milk, four gallons a week to be exact. They don’t even care for the whole stuff, too thick. Recent studies indicate that drinking whole milk reduces central obesity.

And to add insult to injury, the study didn’t say just add whole milk, but also real butter and real whipped cream. All these years without whipped cream… dairy fat is the hero now. Instead of removing these items from our diet, we need to make sure that we use them.

whip cream (2)

Coffee. Back then it was caffeine fueled anxiety that would stunt your growth. There is still caffeine but it’s not as bad as we believed. It apparently enhances brain function. Plus there are many good antioxidants  and nutrients in coffee, and they actually add real whip cream on top of some cups.

Nuts. These were known to have good nutrition, but with a lot of fat. Now that we know there is good fat and bad fat, the nuts rise to the top of the pile. Tree nuts are usually recommended, but studies show that peanuts, which are really legumes (like beans and peas), are just as good. In fact, boiled peanuts seem to have a similar amount of the same antioxidant that is found in red wine, and you don’t have to hide a handful of peanuts from your pastor.

This is just a sample of foods that are now thought to be good for you. Just google or bing the phrase, “bad foods that are actually good for you” and you will get many hits that give these and other ideas on foods.

Just remember that too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Take each area mentioned above with moderation. Overuse can quickly throw the nutrition benefits and the calories into the negative column.

And keep checking with the latest nutrition research. Maybe some favorite taboo food is on the verge of changing from a zero to a hero.

dsb

 

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David Brooks

Associate Professor of Biology & Nursing at East Texas Baptist University

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