Yummy bits and bobs from my kitchen!
Some food groups have an unwaveringly bad reputation among the nutritionally minded among us. This means that in a bid to be healthy, some will turn to exclusion diets, removing entire food groups from their diets. As I have recently started work in a gastropub which sells mostly (delicious) foods that don’t exactly fit into the “health food” bracket, I’ve been thinking about how these foods fit into a healthy lifestyle.
Although cutting back on excess salt, fat (or excess anything for that matter) is a good thing, taking a total exclusion diet means that we can forget the benefits of eating a truly varied diet(and yes, a varied diet certainly can include sugary/ fried/ salty foods), and will blindly go along with food fads. The 5 following foods obviously need to be portion controlled and have their downsides, but each has an often overlooked healthy side that you might want to bear in mind before cutting them out altogether.
Yes, of course eating too much fat can cause obesity, but what isn’t often publicised are the health benefits of
eating a limited, sensible amount of fat. Some vitamins are fat soluble and mean that they tend to only be available in foods that are naturally quite high in fat, such as butter, oily fish and vegetable oils. Not only can excessively cutting fat out of your diet lead to deficiency in certain vitamins, but it has also been found that people who eat a low-fat diet will often then over compensate by eating excess sugar. Because people need to get energy in order to function, they will tend to crave energy from another source, which explains why obesity rates in the US have boomed since the 80’s, despite the fact that Americans now getting less of their energy from fat and more from sugar.
Olive oil to be precise. Not only does oil have the health
benefits of fats, but olive oil has been linked to prevention of Alzheimer’s disease by several studies. This theory is being taken so seriously that drug companies are now looking into using an olive oil extract in anti-dementia drugs. With the rate of dementia on the rise in developed countries (due mainly to people living longer) this is likely to become an ever more important factor to take into account when choosing a diet. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2009/10October/Pages/Olive-oil-and-Alzheimers-disease.aspx
With the ready availability of sodium packed ready meals, it’s
easy to see why salt has such a bad name in modern diet theories. If you don’t have the time or know how to make your own food it’s easy to overdo it on the salt front, because it is used to enhance the flavour of otherwise not very tasty ready meals. For people who do make their own food however, it’s worth considering the health benefits of adding a little salt to your lovely fresh meals. It has been shown that a low salt diet can contribute to insulin resistance, a condition which is difficult to reverse, associated with diabetes and can contribute to unhealthy weight gain. Not only this but salt can assist in the suppression of stress hormones and therefore aid in more restful sleep.
Although it is widely believed by people interested in health that
gluten is bad for you. The thing is that no reputable studies have actually shown this to be the case. Of Corse people with a wheat allergy or living with gluten intolerance eating gluten is a big health risk. But for people who don’t have to deal with Celiac disease, gluten is a good source of animal free protein. Many meet replacements have added gluten for texture and to enhance their protein levels.
5. Artificial sweeteners
There is a lot bad about sugar obviously the associations with obesity and diabetes and its lack of nutritional
value. The obvious alternative would be artificial sweeteners, except for many people’s belief that they contribute to cancer and strokes. Although these fears are wide-spread, scientific studies have shown that people who eat artificial sweeteners do not suffer any measurable negative health effects from them, leading Cancer research UK to state that artificial sweeteners are “safe for human consumption”. The European Food Standards agency has even suggested that substituting some sugar with artificial sweeteners could have a positive impact on the population’s dental health in particular.
Yes, it is undoubtedly healthy to live up to some of the standards which ‘clean living’ diets suggest. Eating veggies, and controlling portion size Is much better in the long-term than eating sugar and fat packed mega sized meals. But by seeing things in an overly simplified healthy vs unhealthy opposition, we risk having an obsessive “all or nothing” approach to healthy eating. We can take healthy eating beyond a helpful level.