Meet the foods that were healthy until humans got our hands on them!
Are “bad foods” really bad for you?
We don’t like to give food polarising labels of good vs bad. The funny thing is, plenty of mankind’s least healthy foods were actually perfectly healthy before we started messing about with them.
How to avoid unhealthy foods
Most foods labelled “unhealthy” are actually fine in their raw or natural form. The problems start when we process them into something else. Rather than imposing a blanket ban on certain foods, why not try to avoid processing techniques instead?
This process shows up in certain oils and things like margarine. The hydrogenation process makes the fat solid, which is more convenient but much less healthy, turning a perfectly healthy oil into a trans-fat.
When a food no longer resembles the thing it claims to be, give it a miss. Things like cheese slices (which look nothing like an actual slice of quality cheese) get like that because they have been processed beyond all recognition. This usually means added oils, sugars, trans fats, thickeners, gums and other stuff you don’t need to eat.
Canning (for meats)
Canning is a great way to preserve the nutrients of some foods, like fish, fruits and veg. But it’s bad news when the food inside is meat. Avoid canned, cured, seasoned meats like pork, luncheon meat, and frankfurters. Eat the real thing instead.
There’s nothing wrong with sugar per se, it’s a great source of energy when you consume it as nature intended via fruit or honey. But processed table sugar isn’t good for you, and nor are perfectly healthy foods once they’re covered in it. Avoid things like granola and cereal bars.
Nature makes its own convenience foods (bananas, anyone?) so avoid the ones mankind has created. We’re talking about things like instant noodles which are usually devoid of nutrients and home to a host of added extras like oils, thickeners and fake flavours.
4 unhealthy foods that can be good for you
Here are four foods usually labelled as unhealthy, that actually have a host of benefits.
A sweet, sugary, melty bar of your favourite chocolate might not be the healthiest choice. But it’s not the fault of the chocolate itself. It’s all the other stuff mankind has added to the raw ingredient: sugar, milk powder, flavourings, extra fats, nougat, caramel, wafers… In its natural form, chocolate (cacao) is a great source of vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and antioxidants including iron, tryptophan, copper and magnesium.
Instead try: cacao or high quality cocoa. Add cacao nibs to yoghurt, oats or homemade baking. Use cacao buttons as a replacement for dark chocolate.
Sugar gets such a bad rap, but only because of what we’ve turned it into. In its natural forms, sugar is a source of energy (great when you need it), with added vitamins and fibre. But humans have to mess with everything, and so we turned sugar into boiled sweets, jelly sweets, and syrups. We added it to biscuits and cakes. And we processed every nutrient out of it and turned it into pure white table sugar.
Instead try: enjoy a moderate amount of heathy sugar from an array of fruit including tropical fruit, especially before and after training.
We’re warned off a high-salt diet, because too much sodium can raise blood pressure which can lead to stroke and heart disease. But salt per se is perfectly healthy – and actually a very important mineral. Once again, mankind messed it up by processing salt and putting it in… well, almost everything. Avoid table salt (which is mined from salt deposits) and start looking at the salt content of processed food.
Instead try: salting your own food with a quality salt like pink salt or Himalayan salt which contains important trace minerals
As a compound, caffeine has proven performance benefits for brain and body. And as a drink, coffee itself is zero calorie. But coffee became a problem when modern man got his hands on it. We’ve changed coffee beyond all recognition by adding sugar, syrups, cream, and immense amounts of milk.
Instead try: switch back to espresso or black filter coffee to reap the many benefits of pure coffee
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