Whole eggs or egg whites, raw food or cooked food, fat-free or full-fat… these are just a few of the topics people are eager to ask about as there’s so much conflicting nutritional information out there. The goal of this post is to put you at ease by debunking some of these foods myths once and for all.
- “Eggs are high in cholesterol and will clog your arteries”
Not a single study has ever shown that eggs increase cholesterol or causes any harm to your health. In fact, eggs increase good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. Some of the best research on the health benefits of eggs comes from New York Times investigative journalist Jo Robinson. Her amazing site shows that pasture-raised eggs have:
- Vitamin D for healthy bones and immunity
- Vitamin A and beta carotene for healthy eyes
- Omega 3’s for healthy brains
There’s a clear nutritional difference between pasture raised/organic hens and conventionally raised hens, and part of this is due to how the egg-laying hens are treated. Animals in commercial facilities have a diet that is full of pesticides, and they are often injected with hormones. Residues from these chemicals end up inside the eggs, which then end up inside our bodies.
If eggs aren’t clogging your arteries than what is? For more on heart disease I suggest you read this informative and dense post written by Dr. Peter Attia.
To get all the guilt-free benefits of eggs, buy organic free-range eggs from the grocery store or pasture-raised eggs from the farmers market. Once you find a supplier that gives you an egg with a rich, orange colour yolk, stick with them.
- “Raw foods are better than cooked foods”
This one is tricky, because the truth is, it really depends on the food. Some foods, like radishes, kale and broccoli do loose some of their nutritional properties when cooked. However, the vast majority of food is not only more delicious, but also more nutritious, when cooked. When fire was utilized by cavemen back in the day, it was one of the most amazing discoveries for humans. All of a sudden we were able to eat a much more varied diet because without heat, some foods would be inedible (sweet potatoes, rhubarb) and some downright poisonous (cassava, raw beans). Cooking foods like beets, carrots, tomatoes and sweet potatoes softens the fiber of those foods making certain nutrients more absorbable by the body
Bottom line – some foods are more delicious and more nutritious when cooked, but the opposite can also be true. Whatever you do, don’t fall for “raw food” marketing. I wrote about this in my blog: Three foods that bust the “raw is better” myth.
- “Diet soda drinks are calorie free, and therefore won’t affect your weight”
Going from sugar to aspartame may lessen the calories in the soda you’re drinking, but those nasty chemicals cause chaos in your system. Among other potentially damaging aspects of those weird sweeteners, this very credible article explains how drinking this stuff actually increases your appetite. Even if you don’t click on the article, I really want you to read the following paragraph:
One large study found that people who drank artificially sweetened soda were more likely to experience weight gain than those who drank non-diet soda. Others found those who drank diet soda had twice the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, often a precursor to cardiovascular disease, than those who abstained.
So you can see how calorie-free sodas and drinks completely work against what you’re trying to achieve. Developing metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) or gaining weight isn’t just about calories, it’s about hormones and the way different food substances wreak havoc on our systems.
The calories-in-calories out debate is a much longer discussion to have at another time. For now, ditch calorie free sodas and replace them with a Perrier or soda water, with some fresh lime or lemon, and add a touch of stevia to sweeten.
- “Foods high in fat make you fat”
You should know by now that are good fats and there are bad fats. Healthy societies, in the present and the past, like the French, the Italians, the Spanish and the south-east Asians do not fear fats. Rather, they eat quite a bit of good fat from many different whole food sources.
There are many different sources of “good” fats, such as: nuts and seeds (like chia, sesame, flax, hemp, walnuts), avocados, olives and olive oil, tropical oils like coconut, sustainability caught fish, organic, grass fed butter and ghee, and grass fed meats. All these food sources contain a mixture of all the essential fats we need in our diet in order to:
- build healthy cells
- support healthy brain function and mood
- absorb fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K
- make and regulate healthy hormones
“Bad” fats generally come from foods that have been refined and altered chemically, such as margarine, which can contain soy, corn, cotton and canola oil. I would also avoid safflower and sunflower because of the way they are processed. These kinds of fats are:
- easily oxidized, which is a fancy way of saying that they’re rotten
- deodorized to take the rotting smell out of them
- chemically altered to extend shelf life (that’s why processed foods never go bad)
- full of damaging free radicals (Don’t know what free radicals are? Read this article)
In the body these “bad fats”:
- disrupt cellular function
- cause inflammation
- depress our immune system
- damage the lining of our arteries and organ tissues
Some of you might be saying, “Tamer, I get it, but I don’t eat these things. So I don’t need to worry about these ‘bad’ fats.” Not directly of course, but every time you drive thru a fast food joint, pick up some frozen food to nuke in the microwave, buy foods from the middle isle (or frozen food section) of a grocery store with labels that have a long list of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, you’re consuming ‘bad fats.’ Also be weary of those buffet-style –take-out stations that are increasingly becoming popular in posh grocery stores. Have a look at the labels above the dishes as I can almost guarantee there are some ‘bad’ fats in there.
So use this info to become a more empowered eater. Enjoy eating without having funky worries. Nutrition isn’t like fashion – it shouldn’t be constantly changing. Whole foods are whole foods – eat more of them and cook them from time to time, in good fats of course.