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When Good Food Goes Bad

Want to know a secret about me? I eat bad food. I don't mean I eat food that's spoiled, that would be stupid. What I'm saying is I eat food that at one time or another has been put on a "food that healthy people shouldn't eat" list. Foods like bread, eggs and fruit have all be demonized as gut busters, and they're all part of my daily diet.

Big companies throw claims and counter-claims back and forth. Here's a classic example.

Muscle & Fitness magazine had an article that declared grapes were among the "Dirty Dozen, 12 sinful foods in sheep's clothing you should avoid when dieting." Grapes were number 2 on that unhealthy list.

Then Men's Fitness ran an article that said, "Grapes...Arguably the hardest-working, disease-fighting fruit you can eat. Not only do grapes contain reservatrol to help cancer-proof your cells, studies show they also contain a compound called pterostilbene that may help battle diabetes."

So which is it? Diet destroyer or life saver?

They're a little bit of both. Almost any food can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on the way that food is processed and cooked. You just have to use some common sense and a little restraint. Here are five foods that have been branded as bad for you, that can be part of a healthy diet.


Eggs - Egg Whites Eggs. They started out as part of the all American breakfast. Then doctors discovered how much cholesterol was in the yolks and they were bad for you. But bodybuilders ate them because they're high in protein...and they were put back in the good column. Then doctors said eggs were full of fat and they went back in the bad column. But yolks have several essential nutrients like folic acid, selenium and vitamin A, so they're back in the good column.

Don't drive yourself crazy trying to debate the finer points of competing scientific studies. Approach eggs this way. We know that egg whites have virtually no fat, no cholesterol and they're loaded with protein, so eat them without guilt. We also know that egg yolks have some essential nutrients and they taste good, but they're higher in fat and cholesterol; so they should be eaten in moderation. Combine them and use one whole egg for the taste while mixing it with three egg whites for a healthier, balanced breakfast option.

(Nutritional Content of 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg: 125 calories, 5g fat, 212mg cholesterol, 234mg sodium 1.5g carbs, 0g fiber, 1g sugar, 18g protein)


Nuts - Almonds Nuts have gotten a bad reputation because of the way they're processed. It seems when companies doctor foods up they sell better. So nuts are roasted in oil, coated in honey and covered with salt. If you're looking for a snack that's got protein and healthy fats, a handful of dry roasted, unsalted nuts is excellent. Just don't eat them by the handful. Count out a serving of 10 to 20 and put them in a sandwich bag for a snack.'

(Nutritional Content of 10 almonds: 69 calories, 6g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium 2.4g carbs, 1.4g fiber, >1g sugar, 2.6g protein)


Fruit - Orange Fruit is another food where the way it's processed makes all the difference. Drinking it in juice form is convenient, but you lose much of the fiber and it's easy to drink 200-300 calories without realizing it. Dried fruit should be avoided too, because many companies dry it with extra sugar to make it more palatable. Choose whole fruits and eat them without guilt. The perfect time to have a serving of fruit is right after you workout along with a low-fat, protein drink.'

(Nutritional Content for 1 medium orange: 62 calories, >1g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium 15g carbs, 3g fiber, 12g sugar, 1.2g protein)


Bread - Whole Grain Bread has been depicted as the ultimate high-carb fat promoter. But if you choose the right type of bread, it's can actually be a high-fiber fat burner. Look for whole-grain breads that are high in fiber with two or more grams per slice. The fiber helps reduce the amount of fat you absorb in a meal. If you're trying to cut down on sodium, there are salt-free options too. Go ahead and put bread on your shopping list, just make sure it's the whole-grain variety.

(Nutritional Content of 1 slice of whole grain bread: 110 calories, 1.5g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium 20g carbs, 3g fiber, 4g sugar, 4g protein)


Pasta - Whole Wheat Pasta has been painted with the same negative brush strokes as bread, and the same rules apply. Avoid white pasta and look for varieties that are whole wheat and contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

(Nutritional Content for 1 cup of whole wheat pasta: 174 calories, 1g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 4mg sodium 37g carbs, 4g fiber, 1g sugar, 7.5g protein)


Now that you know, you can make changes to your grocery list today and eat healthier tomorrow.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

3/11/2007