Five foods you might think are unhealthy, but actually aren’t

Thanks to old wives’ tales, social media and research that’s now been outdated, there’s more confusion than ever about what’s good for you – and what’s not.

To put your mind at ease, here are five foods you might’ve thought aren’t so good for you, but in reality, are incredibly deserving of a place on your shopping list.

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1. Potatoes

Yep, the humble spud – both sweet potatoes and the old faithful white ones, too. Obviously, when they’re deep fried or turned into a packet of chips it’s a different story, but if you’re cooking them up at home, chances are you’re onto a good thing.

While sweet potatoes provide the disease-fighting antioxidant beta-carotene to support healthy eyes and plenty of slow-burning carbs to balance blood sugars, white potatoes are rich in potassium for muscle function and develop a special gut-loving compound called resistant starch when cooked, cooled down and eaten cold. Potato salad, anyone?

2. Popcorn

I’m not talking about the buttery, salty stuff you get at the movies. Instead, I’m talking plain, air-popped popcorn. You might be surprised to learn that popcorn is classified as a wholegrain.

That’s a really good thing, because science has linked a regular consumption of wholegrains with a raft of health perks, like reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and bowel cancer. So, a cup or two of popcorn for a snack or after dinner bite is actually really good for you.

3. Peanut butter

Here’s a fun fact for your next game of trivia: technically, peanuts are classified as a legume, not a nut. Nonetheless, they contain the winning trio of heart-healthy fats, gut-loving fibre and plant-based protein, just like tree nuts.

My go-to is a spoonful of peanut butter on top of wholegrain toast, but you could also drizzle it over a bowl of cereal, add it to a smoothie or mix it into banana bread mixture before baking. I’d recommend opting for a natural variety of peanut butter (read: one that’s 100 per cent peanuts) to avoid the unnecessary added sugars and salt that traditional peanut butters contain.

4. Bread

Don’t let anyone tell you that bread can’t be a part of a healthy diet… you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. While it’s true that not all bread is the bees knees in terms of nutrition (I’m looking at you, fluffy white loaves), there are many varieties that pack a good-for-you punch.

Wholemeal bread with lots of visible grains and seeds contains stacks of gut-loving fibre, along with plenty of essential micronutrients to keep your body working it’s best. Wholegrain bread also tends to have a low glycaemic index, which means sustained energy levels and balanced blood sugars. #Winning.

5. Eggs

The idea that eggs are bad for cholesterol has now debunked. Research has shown that although certain foods (like eggs) contain cholesterol, they have a very miniscule impact on blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fats, on the other hand, have a far more potent effect on your cholesterol profile – and luckily, eggs are relatively low in these unhealthy fats.

On the flip side, eggs provide far more healthy fats and in fact, provide a special type of anti-inflammatory fat called omega-3s. They’re also jam-packed with muscle-building protein and are one of the few foods that contain Vitamin D (a nutrient that is essential for bone health). If you’re otherwise healthy, there’s no need to limit your egg consumption.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.

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