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14 'bad' foods you can stop demonising

14 'bad' foods you can stop demonising
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Many foods have been given a bad rap at one time or another, and you may have eliminated them from your diet (or still eat them, but with guilt). However with ever-changing food and nutritional news, there are plenty of foods you can be eating without feeling guilty.

Ever-changing food news

Ever-changing food news
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What we hear about healthy eating and nutrition is always changing: first fat is the devil, then it’s not; losing weight is all about cutting calories, then it’s carbs. And sometimes one negative research claim about a food trumps all the positive benefits – giving it an undeserved rap. Learn the truth about these misunderstood foods and why they can retake their rightful place in your diet.

Whole milk

Whole milk
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This is the milk your mum gave you, and what you stuck with until the whole saturated-fat-causes-heart-disease news happened. Then you switched to the reduced-fat versions or non-dairy alternatives. But here’s the thing: if you can drink cow’s milk, it’s a good source of protein, providing 8g per cup (plus calcium and vitamin D); in comparison, a cup of rice or almond milk has only 1g of protein or less. Whole milk obviously has more fat and calories than skim – “but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” says nutrition therapist Alissa Rumsey. A little fat may help you feel fuller for longer, so you eat less, she explains. Plus, research has also cast some doubt on how harmful saturated fat really is for you. Just stick to a single-cup serving to keep calories in check.

Start the morning with a generous splash of milk in this Fruity Bircher muesli.

Bread

Bread
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No, no…not the sliced white kind. That loaf stays on the supermarket shelf. But feel free to reserve a spot in your shopping cart for 100 per cent whole-grain breads. Those slices contain whole grains and all the nutritional perks that come with it. Refined grains – used to make the white breads – are stripped of the outer bran shell and germ (where most of the vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre occur), leaving only the starchy endosperm centre. “Whole grain carbs regulate blood sugar better and are linked to a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers,” says Rumsey. But bread buyer, beware: some brands label their breads ‘natural’, ‘whole grain’, or ‘7-grain’ on the package, but are still made mainly with refined grains. To make sure you’re getting the real deal, the first ingredient should be ‘whole grain flour’ or ‘100% whole wheat flour’.

Coffee

Coffee
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It’s been blamed for stunting growth and messing with blood pressure, among many other ills. But recent research finally gives your beloved cuppa the credit it deserves. Coffee can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and certain cancers. It can also improve your mood, boost brain function and even lead to a longer life.

According to Prof Hyppönen, Director, Australian Centre for Precision Health, “Coffee is the most commonly consumed stimulant in the world – it wakes us up, boosts our energy and helps us focus – but people are always asking ‘How much caffeine is too much?’.”

“Most people would agree that if you drink a lot of coffee you might feel jittery, irritable or perhaps even nauseous – that’s because caffeine helps your body work faster and harder, but it is also likely to suggest that you may have reached your limit for the time being.”

Three to five cups a day is the recommended amount for most adults – but go easy on the cream and flavourings that can add tons of sugar and calories.

Considering giving up coffee? Find out what quitting coffee can do to your body.

White potatoes

White potatoes
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You worry about the high-carb content, but the root of the problem is how most of us choose to eat potatoes – as fatty fries, salty spuds or calorie-crazy chips. One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found potato chips may contribute to more weight gain per serving than any other food. But a naked, humble baked potato (without the shredded cheese, sour cream and bacon bits) contains only about 670 kilojoules and is packed with vitamin C, energy-producing vitamin B, fibre and potassium. White potatoes also contain resistant starch – a type that isn’t fully broken down or absorbed by the body, so it doesn’t cause the same spike in insulin as other high-carb foods, says Rumsey. To retain the most nutrients when cooking, bake or microwave with the skin on, which is where most of the fibre is.

Potato and cauliflower make a great combination in curry. Try this Spiced lentil dhal, a meal relished by vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

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Dark meat

Dark meat
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Health-minded meat-lovers, hear this: white meat breast and dark meat thighs are both good sources of lean protein and packed with vitamins and minerals. Dark meat, because of the type of muscle, even has slightly more iron than white. It is also higher in calories and fat. But if you take the skin off – where you find most of the fat in poultry – a skinless chicken thigh has only 185 more kilojoules and two extra grams of unhealthy saturated fat than a skinless breast. Plus, dark meat is juicier and has more flavour.

Bananas

Bananas
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Yes, they contain more calories and carbs than some other fruits, but it’s well, bananas to ban bananas from your diet. These fruits are high in potassium – a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and most of us lack. Bananas are also a good source of filling fibre, and research shows eating them can refuel your body as effectively as a sports drink during exercise. Plus, greener or less-ripe bananas contain resistant starch, which helps boost gut health.

Got overripe bananas you don’t know what to do with? Pop them in this Chicken and banana korma recipe.

Canned vegetables

Canned vegetables
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Before you screw your face up, consider this: canned veggies offer the same amount of vitamins and minerals as their fresh counterparts, says Tanya Zuckerbrot, author and founder of F-Factor Diet. In fact, research shows eating them is associated with a higher-quality diet, lower body weight and lower blood pressure. Plus, canned veggies are inexpensive, prepped and ready, and always available, regardless of the season. Sodium can certainly be high, but that’s easily remedied: look for low-sodium versions and rinse them until the water until it runs clear to get rid of the excess sodium content, suggests Zuckerbrot.

Regular salad dressing

Regular salad dressing
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Fat-free versions may be lower in kilojoules but are often loaded with sugar and salt to add flavour. Plus, your body needs fat to absorb many of the vitamins and other nutrients in your salad greens. Creamy salad dressings are smart to skip since they can contain a lot of saturated fat. Your best bet is a vinaigrette that lists olive or canola oil as a main ingredient (for a dose of healthy fats), followed by vinegar, water and spices. Keep your drizzle to two tablespoons to help control kilojoules.

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