Bad Foods that are Actually Good For You

Bad Foods

We’ve all heard people who are dieting tell us that they owe their success by eliminating “bad” foods from their diet.

A lot of the foods described can vary in terms of how good they are from person to person. Some people will tell you that bread is the enemy, or processed food, sugar, alcohol, or maybe it’s red meat, eggs, or some dreaded supplement that will destroy your kidneys.

Problem is that there really isn’t any food that is ‘bad‘ for you. There are foods that maybe shouldn’t be over-consumed, and foods that have less nutritional benefits than others, but all of the food that is sold in a supermarket is both safe to consume, and can make up part of your diet.

In fact a lot of the foods that are often labelled as bad, could actually be good for you!

This article will look at some of the more common “bad” foods that you should be adding to your diet today.

1. Frozen Vegetables

For some reason a lot of people believe that when you freeze vegetables you lose a lot of nutrients and that as a result frozen veg is not as healthy as ‘fresh‘.

Well actually frozen veg is much fresher than any non-frozen veg as it is frozen immediately after being picked, which prevents the loss of nutrients.

A study by Favell (1998) found that frozen green beans and carrots was similar to freshly picked veg when it came to Vitamin C content, and that frozen spinach was “clearly superior” to supermarket non-frozen spinach [1].

Another benefit is that the frozen veg has a much longer shelf life, is easier to cook, and is usually a lot cheaper when bought in bulk.

2. Eggs

For decades eggs have been portrayed as bad for you, even today many people will tell you that eggs are full of cholesterol and will lead to heart disease.

While eggs do contain a lot of cholesterol, they actually raise HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) whilst also changing dense LDL cholesterol to large LDL cholesterol.

Large LDL cholesterol actually has no influence on heart disease, whilst HDL cholesterol actually has a beneficial effect.

Another benefit of eating eggs? They are a great source of antioxidants which can help protect the eyes [2].

3. Red Meat

Let’s get one thing out in the open, there have been studies that show a correlation between red meat and dying earlier. But that does not mean that red meat causes death.

For starters the studies have found no mechanism for how red meat causes death which is actually a big deal.

Correlation does not imply causation, in other words just because someone died earlier and also ate red meat does not mean that it was red meat that was responsible.

Secondly, there needs to be a distinction made between processed and unprocessed red meat. In a meta-analysis comparing the two it was found that unprocessed red meat had no correlation with increased risk of heart disease or diabetes [3].

In fact there are a lot of benefits to eating unprocessed red meat, for starters there is the high protein levels which can help increase thermogenesis, metabolism, and satiety [4][5].

There is also the animal fats that can help increase testosterone levels, which is why vegetarians typically have lower testosterone [6].

4. White Potatoes

A few years ago there was a huge shift in opinion on white potatoes, they went from being a staple of the western diet to being seen as a high-calorie food that was responsible for weight gain.

Well actually white potatoes are a very good food. They are high in Vitamin B6, Potassium, and Vitamin C, they are very high in satiety (which is excellent for diets) and in terms of calories they are quite low.

The problem with white potatoes is that they can be used to make some very high-calorie foods, chips, fries, wedges, filled potato skins are all high calorie. But if you deep fry and food and cover it in cheese you have turned it into an unhealthy food!

Boiled potatoes, jacket potatoes, and even mashed potatoes (provided they aren’t swimming in butter) are all excellent, healthy additions to a diet.

5. Caffeine

A lot of people associate caffeine with ill-health, when people go on diets one of the first things they give up is caffeine. But as with potatoes, caffeine itself is not unhealthy for you but you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

Also, some sources of caffeine can be very high calorie (lattes, energy drinks, soft drinks etc).

When used in moderation the benefits of caffeine are too numerous to fit into one article. Caffeine can increase metabolism [7], improve performance [8], and promote fat oxidation.

Just try not to overdo it, as high caffeine intake can build up a tolerance which leads to disrupted sleep and none of the benefits applying.

Conclusion

The problem with the good/bad food debate is that the public get fed a lot of misinformation.

This usually comes from the media, but a lot of it comes from the fitness industry. From multi-level marketers who promote meal-replacement shakes, and hire complete novices with no nutritional background.

Many personal trainers who completed a 6 week course are looked up to as experts but their knowledge can often come from their own personal beliefs, not from science.

The best way to combat this misinformation is to count calories using well known trackers such as my fitness pal. This way you can see for yourself whether a food contains too much saturated fat, too many calories, or not enough protein.

Don’t let someone tell you that you must avoid bread when your calorie counter shows that you can easily fit it into a healthy diet.

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[1] Favell, D. 1998. A comparison of the vitamin C content of fresh and frozen vegetables. Food Chemistry 62(1): 59-64
[2] Fernandez, ML. 2006. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 9(1): 8-12
[3] Micha, R., Wallace, S., Mozaffarian, D. 2010. Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation 121(21): 2271-83
[4] Pasiakos, S., Cao, J., Margolis, L., Sauter, E., Whigham, L., McClung, J., Rood, J., Carbone, J., Combs Jr., G., Young, A. 2013. Effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: A randomised controlled trial. The FASEB Journal 27(9): 3837-3847
[5] Halton, T., Hu, F. 2004. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 23(5): 373-85
[6] Hill, P., Wynder, E. 1979. Effect of a vegetarian diet and dexamethasone on plasma prolactin, testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone in men and women. Cancer Letters 7(5): 273-282
[7] Dulloo, A., Duret, C., Rohrer, D., Girardier, L., Mensi, N., Fathi, M., Chantre, P., Vandermander, J. (1999) Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. American Society for Clinical Nutrition 70(6): 1040-1045
[8] Burke, L. 2008. Caffeine and Sports Performance. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 33(6): 1319-1334

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