Did you know that there are some commonly believed bad foods that are actually good for you? Sometimes popular belief is not always right, and the good news is that some of these commonly held beliefs about certain “junk” foods may not be completely true.
For example, did you know that fried foods, bacon, white rice, potatoes, and ketchup have definite health benefits?
If this is a surprise to you, then you’re going to want to keep reading, because your next meal might be a lot tastier!
- Fried foods don’t have to be bad for you, as long as you use the right kind of oils or fats.
- Some trans fats actually promote heart health, in addition to promoting leanness and even fighting cancer.
- Many of the nutrients in brown rice aren’t bioavailable because of phytic acid. White rice is a better choice.
- Ketchup, as long as it’s not sweetened with fructose or other sugars, is a great source of lycopene.
- Much of the fat in bacon is a monosaturated fat known as oleic acid, the same kind found in olive oil.
Hardly anything is simple, and hardly anything is at it appears, least of all dietary recommendations from mainstream food and nutrition writers.
Too often they hand down blanket recommendations on food that, upon further scrutiny, are riddled with inconsistencies, yesterday’s science, shortsightedness, or plain old two-dimensional thinking.
Case in point, here are some foods you were told to stay away from because they were “bad,” but could actually be good for you.
1. Fried Foods
We’ve been told to avoid fried foods most of our lives, even though practically everyone knows one relative on a farm who lived to be 100 years old despite frying up bacon and eggs and hash browns and drinking down the grease every day before heading out to the fields.
As those long-lived farmers often attest to, fried foods aren’t really less healthy than un-fried foods.
True, cooking in oil will add some calories, but plenty of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, along with beta-carotene (sweet potatoes), lycopene (tomatoes), and lutein (spinach and kale) need fat in order to be absorbed by the body.
Still, you should adhere to a few guidelines.
For instance, only use oils that have a high “smoke point,” which is the temperature at which the oil starts smoking.
Overheating oils changes the chemical composition of the oil to things that might not be so healthy, so use oils such as olive (the refined stuff, as opposed to the extra virgin) avocado, peanut, walnut, or sesame oil for high-temp frying.
Other fats or oils, such as butter or coconut oil, simply have too low of a smoke point to cook with when using high temperatures.
Now there’s been some controversy as to whether applying high heat can turn a cooking oil into a bad variety of trans fat, but even if that actually happens, it’s more likely to occur if you reuse your oil over and over.
For low-temp frying, however, go ahead and use coconut oil, butter from grass-fed cows, or use extra virgin olive oil.
2. Trans Fats
These unsaturated fats are fairly uncommon in nature but they’re a common byproduct of industrially produced foods. They’re feared because they pose a double threat to heart health, raising the bad cholesterol and lowering the good.
But what isn’t commonly known is that there are trans fats that are actually good for your heart, in addition to having fat-burning and cancer-fighting properties.
Collectively, one group of these healthful trans fats is known as conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA.
CLA is found in large amounts in grass-fed meat and dairy products, but it’s also produced in our bodies in small amounts.
Numerous studies have shown CLA to actually reduce the risk of heart disease, in addition to preventing or improving type II diabetes (at least in rats) and even reducing the growth and metastatic spread of tumors.
Additionally, studies suggest that CLA can reduce body fat and even increase lean body mass.
3. White Rice
Yes, brown rice has protein, but it’s a negligible amount; you’re better off with a mouthful of animal protein. Brown rice does indeed have fiber, but you’d be better off getting your fiber through other, more nutrient-dense fiber sources like fruits and vegetables.
And lastly, yes, it doesn’t do much to raise blood sugar, but no one eats a bowl of white rice by itself unless that’s all they get to eat. Instead, they eat it with meat, or vegetables, or a little oil, all of which ameliorate rises in blood sugar.
But there’s one other thing about brown rice that makes it particularly problematic and that’s the presence of phytic acid, a compound located in the rice bran – the part that gives brown rice its color.
Phytic acid, quite simply, grabs on to or chelates minerals, in addition to inhibiting enzymes we need to digest food. This results in making many of the coveted nutrients largely unavailable for digestion.
That’s why white rice, despite decades of propaganda, is often a superior food, especially for athletes.
White rice is fortified with vitamins (digestible ones) and isn’t associated with food allergies, bloating, or any other digestive problems often associated with grains in general.
Go to page 2 for four more “bad” foods that are actually good for you