Healthy Food Imposters

Egg yolks BAD? Milk GOOD? Don’t eat sugar, White Potatoes EVIL?  What to eat, what to avoid – so many rules, no wonder people are confused.   Some healthy food has gotten a bad wrap while others with no nutritional value are praised; I’ve tried to limit myself to the most popular ones.  MY definition of a health food would be one that promotes health – simple enough, right?  The foods in the “NOT” list have very little nutritional value and can actually hinder your other healthy efforts!  Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for some foods that are generally labeled as “unhealthy” but in reality are health promoting super stars.

“Healthy Foods” that are NOT :

  1. Bread – “whole wheat” and “whole grain” mean nothing.  Bread is still a highly refined, processed food usually containing corn syrup and trans fat.  Best choices would be “sprouted” Ezekiel bread or another sprouted brand – but again, be sure that the main ingredients are sprouted; I’ve seen many out there that say “sprouted” on the label only to investigate further to see “whole wheat” as the first ingredient!
  2. Breakfast cereals – Again, highly refined & processed; typically with added sugar, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.  Any vitamins & minerals are added chemicals.  Best bet would be actual whole grains such as steel cut oats, amaranth flakes, quinoa or brown rice.
  3. Milk – (see previous post about the negatives of milk) – Additives, hormones, preservatives, steroids and pasteurization (which obliterates all nutrients, enzymes, vitamins and renders the protein useless.)
  4. Yogurt – Fat free is pretty much useless when typical yogurts contain added sugar, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.  Any “supposed” health benefits from probiotics are negated by the refined sugars.  Frozen yogurt is no better – when compared to premium ice cream, the yogurt will typically have more additives.  Additionally, cows milk (most of the yogurt out there unless otherwise noted) is hard to digest.  Good options are:  Goat and Sheep Milk or dairy alternatives such as Almond or Coconut Milk.  Go for the varieties with no added sugar! Add your own fruit and stevia to sweeten.
  5. Snack foods such as Granola, Pretzels & Peanuts – Granolas are highly refined, high calories, loaded with artificial ingredients, high in sugar with small amounts of nutrients. Pretzels are processed, concentrated wheat void of any nutrition and basically just empty calories.  Peanuts are highly allergenic, carcinogenic from the aflatoxin mold that they carry and are very high in Omega 6 (which will knock off the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3)
  6. Corn Syrup/High Fructose Corn Syrup – Sorry but those commercials that say “it’s just like sugar” should be condemned!! First off – Sugar is NOT GOOD either!!  It’s a cheap sweetener that rapidly increases blood sugar and insulin; causes weight gain, diabetes, raises cholesterol, contains mercury, thought to cause cancer.  So, WHY is anyone consuming this?? While I don’t promote its use and definitely not ideal, plain old white sugar is actually “healthier” than this crap!!!  Best  sweetener choices are honey, fruit (such as dates) and my fave Stevia (natural plant based sweetener)
  7. Egg Whites – It’s become common practice to discard the egg yolk in favor of just using the white – this is just WRONG!  An egg has two parts – the white & the yolk – they are together because that is how nature intended; the white actually isn’t healthy unless it’s combined with the yolk. The whites solo are devoid of nutrition, have a higher tendency to cause food allergies, can’t be digested on its own and contains a glycoprotein that attaches to B vitamins (specifically biotin) preventing it from being used by the body.  The protein in egg whites are not as formidable without the yolks to balance out the amino acid profile and make the protein more bio-available and therefore more muscle friendly.  It’s also erroneous thinking that the white has more protein – not the case at all – the yolk has almost as much protein plus is the source of all the nutrition (see below )
  8. Sports Drinks – It recently came to my attention that people still think Gatorade is GOOD!!  I guess I’ve spent too much time in my healthy organic bubble where I thought everyone sang the praises of coconut water as a superior hydration drink!  Sports drinks are awful; just the color of them alone makes me cringe!  Artificial colors, flavorings even artificial vitamins!!!  Coconut water is lower in sugar, has 15x’s more potassium, has more calcium, magnesium and sodium – all naturally occurring.  And most importantly is isotonic (which means it has the same salt concentration as the cells of the body and is similar to human plasma – which means quick hydration.   In studies coconut water restored blood volume quicker than sports drink and plain water.  The American Journal of Emergency Medicine published an article that discussed in extreme conditions some physicians have utilized coconut water as a source of intravenous hydration fluid instead of standard IV fluid for short term use. In World War II many wounded soldierswere saved in the Pacific using coconut water as emergency transfusions for plasma.  HA! In your face Gatorade!!

And my list of  Healthy Foods

  1. Egg Yolks –This one really does stump me – discarding the source of all nutrition just because it has FAT?? Really People?  I hardly think that 4.5 grams of fat is making a difference when you typically have “sides” with your egg whites such as sausage, ham & bacon (Yes, even turkey sausage or bacon are not the greatest) .  To me it’s almost the equivalent of someone ordering a triple cheese burger with diet coke on the side (merely using this as an example of “what are you thinking”). The complete egg (yolk AND white) is a nutritional powerhouse – Vitamins A, E, D, K, Carotenoids, Zinc, DHA, Lutein, Iron, B12.  Eggs (basically the yolk) will raise your good cholesterol.  MY suggestion would be to avoid all the sources of “man made” fats in your diet and go ahead – enjoy the yolk!
  2. Butter – Of course, I mean – REAL, Organic, preferably Pastured butter.  I hate to admit, I was guilty of shunning butter for over the past 20 years! It all started with a nutrition book I read (yes, I must’ve been about 11) that compared butter to Vaseline!!! OMG that was enough for me and I never used it again until recently when my nutrition mentor was singing its praises.   Here are a few reasons butter is actually good for you –it’s rich in the most easily absorbed source of Vitamin A (which is necessary for Adrenal & thyroid health), contains anti oxidants, rich in lecithin (essential for cholesterol metabolism), the saturated fats in butter have strong anti tumor & anti cancer properties, protects against tooth decay, promotes fertility in women, helps absorb minerals and has a highly absorbable form of iodine.
  3. Coconut Oil (and Coconut products)- The “super star” saturated fat that can benefit everything from weight loss to cancer to HIV. Actually, too many benefits to list!  High in lauric acid and is a microbial that fights viruses and bacteria.  It’s a quick source of energy as its fats are MCT (medium chain triglyercerides).   Assists in weight loss by balancing hormones and the thyroid.  Best sources would be “raw” organic, unprocessed virgin coconut oil.
  4. Potatoes – Natural starch, good source of energy.  Excellent source of fiber, high in vitamin B6, potassium, iron, copper and vitamin C and low in fat.  If you’re going to eat a starchy carb, a potato would be a great place to start.  When compared to plain ol pasta, the potato wins hands down – higher in fiber, nutrients and obviously not processed.
  5. Chocolate – natural antioxidant, high in magnesium and flavonoids that benefit the cardiovascular system and fight free radicals.  Best bet would be organic, unprocessed chocolate – with at least 70% cacao.  Look for ones with minimal added ingredients, high fiber content and lower sugar.
  6. Carrots – Whoever said avoid carrots because they are high in sugar definitely got it wrong.   They’re anti aging, prevent heart disease, improve vision and prevent cancer!  Carrots contain natural sugars and are full of cartenoids and antioxidants!  Once thought of having a high glycemic index and therefore potential to raise blood sugar – however, choosing raw over  cooked will eliminate this (much lower glycemic index, however when you add a fat – butter or olive oil to any food with higher glycemic index, the fat will naturally balance and decrease any surges in blood sugar)
  7. Natural fats – Whole, unprocessed, unheated natural fats found in such products as Olives, Avocado’s and Nuts.   Fats are needed for hormone production and blood sugar balance in addition to enhancing skin & hair health.  Organic, unprocessed, unfiltered oils fall into this category.  Raw is best when it comes to fat – unroasted nuts, unheated oils – these will actually assist your body in weight loss not add to it.