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 were similar to freshly picked veg when it came to Vitamin C content. They also found that frozen spinach was “clearly superior” to supermarket non-frozen spinach .
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.
For decades eggs have been portrayed as being 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 .
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 .
There is also animal fats that can help increase testosterone levels. This is why vegetarians typically have lower testosterone .
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 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.
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. However, 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.
Benefits of caffeine include:
Just try not to overdo it. High caffeine intake can build up a tolerance which leads to disrupted sleep and none of the benefits applying.
The problem with the good/bad food debate is that the public gets 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, to complete novices with no nutritional background.
Many personal trainers who complete a 6-week course are looked up to as experts. The problem is that 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 MyFitnessPal.
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.
For more information on what foods you should be eating to build muscle, I would recommend reading the following article.