Dave Shaw 's Opinion

NZ dietitian, performance nutritionist and health expert. Dave does his best to make sense of what we eat.

Dave Shaw: 7 foods that aren't as bad as you think

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The confusion around some so-called 'bad' foods has left many people changing what they put on their plate for no good reason. Following on from the popular harmful 'healthy' foods blog, Dave shares seven foods that aren't as bad as we think.
Don't be concerned when you look in the fridge, some foods aren't as bad as they seem.
Photo / Thinkstock
Don't be concerned when you look in the fridge, some foods aren't as bad as they seem. Photo / Thinkstock

1. Potatoes

An unfortunate spin-off from the carbohydrate debate is the dwindling popularity of potatoes. We all agree that sugar and many refined foods are fattening, but not all carbs are bad for you. It depends on how much you eat, if they're processed and what you team them with. Snacking on potato chips will obviously add notches to your belt - they're deep fried, covered in salt and really easy to overeat. However, whole potatoes - and relatives like kumara - are full of fibre, vitamins and have a relatively low energy density making you feel fuller for longer.

2. Eggs

The cholesterol myth continues to persuade heart healthy eaters to avoid eggs. The truth is, the cholesterol in an egg has a minimal effect on blood cholesterol. So, there's no reason you can't enjoy their health benefits, unless you're allergic to them. Amazingly, they contain enough nutrients to turn a single fertilised cell into an entire baby chicken.

Packed full of quality protein - don't skip the yolk - that's where all the fat-soluble vitamins hide. They also contain choline, a significant nutrient for brain function and lutein, a potent antioxidant.

Read more: 10 harmful 'healthy' foods

3. Peanut butter

It may be high in fat, but that doesn't mean it will make you fat. Peanut butter is a power-food packed with protein, fibre and b-vitamins. It's also a great alternative to margarine. However, be warned it has a high caloric load so don't go eating the whole jar. Instead, use it as a dip or add a spoonful to a shake to boost the nutritional value of what you're eating.

4. Red meat

There's a lot of hype and hoopla tangled around red meat with its debatable tags for promoting some cancers and cardiovascular disease. But this doesn't mean it's bad for you, after all, humans have been eating it for thousands of years. Meat is loaded with protein, vitamins and minerals, including iron, an essential nutrient that helps to transport oxygen around your body. Eating a few palm-sized servings a week can do wonders for your health. However, processed meat - like sausages, bacon, ham and salami - does seem to be more harmful and is more strongly linked to some cancers and heart disease, so it's wise to limit how much of the fake stuff you have.

5. Chocolate

Full of fat and sugar, plus it tastes amazing - so it must be bad for you, right? Well, not exactly. Dark chocolate is an exception and the darker the better. It's very nutritious and full of minerals, including iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. Eating small amounts can also have powerful antioxidant effects and be protective against heart disease. Like all treat foods, don't eat the block, savor a few squares after dinner.

6. Coffee

It's okay to love a latte, there are health benefits in your brew.
Photo / Thinkstock
It's okay to love a latte, there are health benefits in your brew. Photo / Thinkstock

Too much coffee can make you jittery and affect sleep. However, caffeine boasts some health benefits that could help you live longer. Many of the nutrients in the coffee bean make it in to your flat white, including b-vitamins, manganese and potassium. There's some evidence to show coffee drinkers are protected against type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, dementia and some cancers. Plus, coffee is a great source of antioxidants. But, don't chain drink coffees all day, one of two espressos is enough depending on your tolerance. And, if you're pregnant, it's best to avoid it all together.

7. Nuts

Like most fatty food, nuts are often thought of as an unhealthy addition to your diet. However, nuts are a great source of unsaturated fats, vitamins, fibre and antioxidants - all powerful protectors against cardiovascular disease. Almonds provide vitamin E, walnuts include heart healthy omega-3's and eating only two Brazil nuts a day is enough to get your selenium requirements. The fat, fibre and protein can also help regulate your appetite so you eat less. They're nature's gifts and are a great or addition to any salad or for a small snack.

- www.nzherald.co.nz

Dave Shaw

NZ dietitian, performance nutritionist and health expert. Dave does his best to make sense of what we eat.

Dave works in public health and alongside some of New Zealand’s top athletes. Whether it's for vitality, performance, identity or spirituality, Dave loves the way food brings people together. He believes that no one diet is the cure for our growing rates of chronic disease, but a diet based on wholefoods is the perfect start. Always keeping up-to-date with current evidence and food trends, Dave is a relentless researcher for how we should eat and likes to challenge what we may think about nutrition.

Read more by Dave Shaw

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