Whenever I tell people I am a nutritionist, they have all sorts of questions about what foods are healthy and what aren’t. They are usually pretty surprised to find out that some of the foods they thought were unhealthy are actually healthy and vice versa. Clever and sometimes misleading marketing all play a role in the often times confusing world that is nutrition. So it is my goal to get back to basics, enjoy real food and discover the truth about several food myths. Come check out these five foods that are actually healthy and should be included in your life!
Five Foods that Are Actually Healthy:
Sodium has gotten a bad rep for a while now, which is due in large part to the amount of processed foods that contain far too much salt. Having too much salt can lead to health problems that’s for sure, but the difference here lies in the type of salt that is used. Table salt (this is what is found in processed foods) is manufactured to look uniformly white and the minerals are stripped from it, whereas sea salt is produced from evaporating water from oceans or lakes and the trace minerals remain. If you are currently eating quite a bit of processed foods then my advice would be to stop, as these foods contain far too much salt and this is where the problem with sodium comes into play. If you are cooking your own foods at home don’t be afraid to add in a pinch of sea salt, it adds a great depth of flavour to your dish! My favourite sea salt is pink Himalayan, it has a great flavour!
Possibly due to the way in which potatoes are often prepared (i.e. French fries), many people are wary of the health benefits of potatoes. Well it is my pleasure to tell you that yes, potatoes are a health food, provided of course that you aren’t deep frying them or loading them with cheese and sour cream. Potatoes contain a good source of fibre and even protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. They also contain a good source of trace minerals which are important for many bodily functions. Potatoes are also a good source of vitamin B6 which is important for proper nerve functioning and is required for the production of serotonin (our feel good hormone), melatonin (this helps us sleep at night), and GABA (needed for normal brain function).
Here are some roasted potatoes with eggs (up next) and avocado toast, one of my all time favourites!
So many people don’t have eggs because they fear that they are too high in cholesterol or they only have egg whites and skip on the yolks. Egg yolks are nothing to fear friends! The simplest way to think about this is that eggs come whole, yolk and the whites, not separate, this is a whole food and should be enjoyed as such. Both the yolk and the whites provide ample nutrition in the form of protein from the whites and lecithin and choline from the yolk. Let’s talk lecithin and choline for a moment. Lecithin is a fat molecule that contains necessary nutrients for several body functions, one of those nutrients found in lecithin is stored in the form of choline. Did you know that a high percentage of your brain’s total mass is composed of choline? So ensuring you have enough of it in your diet is vital for brain development and health. Because choline is sensitive to cooking, please ensure that you leave the yolks runny by poaching or soft boiling them. The other reason people tend to avoid eggs is because they fear that they are too high in cholesterol, but our bodies require cholesterol for many reasons (such as the production of steroid hormones). Numerous studies have not been able to show a link between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels. As with most foods, quality is important and you should aim to find organic, or even better, pasture raised eggs as these are better for the environment, the animal and your health due to a higher ratio of omega 3 and vitamin E.
Ghee or clarified butter is made by simmering butter until the milk and protein solids have been removed (essentially they sink to the bottom). After straining it, you are left with the medium- and short-chain fatty acids which are more easily digested and absorbed by our bodies. Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that nourishes the cells of the intestines and has a beneficial role in the GI tract, which may be helpful to those suffering from IBS. Ghee is also rich in vitamin K2 which is essential for helping our bodies utilize minerals, including calcium and helping to build and support the development of bones and protect against tooth decay. Try and find ghee or make your own ghee from grass fed butter as this will have even more benefits from the higher concentration of CLA’s (conjugated linoleic acid) which have been shown to help with fat loss. Bonus: ghee has a high smoke point!
Here is a pic of some homemade ghee that I made, it is liquid gold!
So long as you aren’t allergic, there is no reason to avoid nuts! Many people hold off on eating nuts though, because they fear that they are too high in fat. Nuts also offer a ton of nutritional value in addition to being a good source of fat such as antioxidants, vitamins, protein and fiber. The fat content also helps to keep us feeling full and satiated, meaning we are less likely to binge on other foods after. The only word of caution here is to watch what nuts you are eating to ensure they are not made with unhealthy oils, other condiments or tons of salt. Try and eat raw nuts as this means less processing and more nutrients. If you really want to up the ante, try activating your nuts by soaking them in water, rinsing and then drying them as this helps with digestion by removing the enzyme inhibitors. My favourite nuts include: macadamia, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts and pistachios.
Here is one of my favourite nut milks to make, cashew and brazil nut!
I hope this was helpful for you! I can definitely relate to demonizing foods that don’t deserve it, but like I said, marketing can be pretty clever in making us think a certain food is better than another, like butter vs. margarine.
Are you surprised by any of the foods on this list? Or are you curious about a particular food? Let me know!