Underrated Healthy Foods
by Jennifer Sygo, Postmedia News
published February 06, 2012
rating: (21 Ratings)
Eats that deserve respect
We know that certain foods are near-indisputable nutritional winners. Green, leafy vegetables, berries, almonds, yogourt, salmon: you'll find these foods in almost every diet book available today. But there are some foods that, for whatever reason, don't get the respect they deserve. Here's a closer look at some that are often overlooked and under-appreciated.
Eggs became nutritional persona non grata when cholesterol fell out of favour in the 1970s and '80s. High in cholesterol, egg yolks were labelled as risky choices for those who were concerned about their hearts.
More recent research, however, has revealed that dietary cholesterol not only has a limited impact on blood cholesterol, but population studies have found that the association between egg consumption (up to seven yolks per week) and heart disease is relatively weak (the exception being those with type 2 diabetes, who seem to see an increased risk of cardiovascular events with egg consumption).
What's more, eggs are a good source of protein, and the yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that are important for eye health, as well as choline, which is important for brain development.
Lean red meat
Red meat has fallen out of favour because it has been associated with colorectal cancer, and fatty cuts of beef and pork are believed to raise cholesterol levels, and, in turn increase our risk of cardiovascular disease.
But despite the negative attention, red meats are actually remarkably nutritious and provide some nutrients that can be difficult to obtain from other sources. In particular, the meat from four-legged animals is high in heme iron, a type of iron that is absorbed about three times better than the non-heme iron found in plant foods such as spinach and beans. This makes red meats particularly beneficial for those who have reduced iron stores, most commonly women of child-bearing years.
Beyond iron, red meats are also among the best food sources of zinc, important for wound healing and immune system function, and vitamin B12, important for red blood cell formation: a three-ounce serving of most red meats will provide between a third and a half of your daily needs for both nutrients.
Once a lunchtime staple, peanut butter has tumbled down the nutritional ladder, not only because of its high fat and calorie content, but also because of its potential to trigger severe food allergies.
Poor public image aside, however, peanut butter boasts an impressive nutritional resume, not only for being one of the relatively few foods rich in vitamin E (a two-tablespoon serving provides 17 per cent of your daily needs), but because of research demonstrating that regular nut and nut butter consumers tend to have a lower body weight than their nut-avoiding counterparts.
While this seems counterintuitive - after all, nuts and nut butters are among the highest-calorie foods around - nuts may help with weight control by serving as natural appetite suppressors, and research suggests that we don't actually absorb all of the fats from nuts, but rather excrete a portion in our waste.
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