Like people, foods too have reputations! Some foods are considered super healthy and bestowed all sorts of complimentary titles. There are others, however, that develop such notoriety that they find it hard to shake off their bad reputations for generations. We think it’s time for some reputation management!
People everywhere have had an awakening about the need to be healthy, to exercise, to have a healthy and nutritious diet; and there is a huge amount of information available in the form of books, or on the internet about what is healthy and what is unhealthy!
Let’s focus on the villains. A few examples of foods considered “unhealthy” include rice, mango, banana – said to cause diabetes; butter, oils – considered fattening; peanuts are supposed to be high in fat; and foods like potato, rice, chocolate, egg yolk, rice are known to lead to weight gain.
The fact is that no food can be termed as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food. All food items have their own benefits and drawbacks. Let us try to clear the cloud of the misconceptions that surrounds ‘bad foods’.
The truth behind foods considered unhealthy
Mangoes are best known as the “king of fruits”. They’re also the national fruit of India. Yet, they are considered unhealthy or ‘fattening’. Mangoes are said to a taboo for someone with diabetes, or trying to lose weight as they have a high calorie content and lead to a spurt in blood sugar level.
The truth: But the fact is that mangoes are a highly nutritious fruit! Mangoes are a very good source of vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. All these not only have their own antioxidant properties, but the mango itself is a rich source of polyphenolic antioxidants that protect against colon and breast cancer. Mangoes are also a good source of potassium, an important mineral in the body required for electrolyte balance, as well as being a source of copper, which is a co-factor for many enzymes and is also involved in red blood cell production.
Read more about the nutritional content of mangoes
Like mangoes, bananas are also considered unhealthy for weight watchers and diabetics due to their sugar andcalorie content, and thought to have a high glycaemic index that leads to an increase in blood sugar levels.
The truth: In reality, bananas are extremely healthy and rich in nutrients. Bananas have a glycaemic index of approximately 51, which is extremely low on the glycaemic index! This fruit is high in mineral content as it is one of the richest sources of potassium that is essential to maintain good blood pressure, and helps maintain optimal muscle contraction. That’s the reason sports persons are often seen having a banana during a sport to give them energy and potassium. They also help to reduce depression due to the presence of tryptophan, a well-known mood enhancer. A good source of fibre, they also help to relieve constipation.
The goodness of bananas – read all about it
Litchis are a very sweet and sugary fruit, and hence thought to be unfit for diabetics and weight-watchers. Besides, they taste so good, they must be bad for you!
The truth: Litchis have a good amount of dietary fibre which is good news for weight watchers. Besides being a good source of fibre, they are an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of B-complex vitamins like niacin, thiamin and folate. They’re also rich in potassium and copper.
Chocolate can be a weakness for the most disciplined eater out there. Some even claim an addiction to it! Had in excess, theoxalates present in chocolate can cause kidney stones. Excessive caffeine consumption in chocolate can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, stress, anxiety and lack of concentration.
The truth: Chocolates are really not that bad! A small piece of dark chocolate is heart healthy as it helps to reduce the blood pressure and LDL cholesterol by 10%. Also, the cocoa of chocolates has flavonoids that are high in antioxidants. Many people eat chocolates when they are depressed, believing that it helps to uplift the mood. The good news? This is indeed true, as it contains serotonin that is a natural anti-depressant.
Rice is mostly avoided by people who are conscious of their body weight, as well as by diabetics. Rice has refined carbohydrates that lead to the elevation of blood sugar levels.
The truth: Rice is a staple source of energy-giving carbohydrates for the residents of many states of India and should not be completely shunned. The low fibre content of white rice makes it easy to digest and light on the stomach. It is also the main source of energy for people with celiac disease.
It’s important to remember that no food is entirely good or bad. One can enjoy all of nature’s bounty, as long as it’s done in moderation.
Photographs via sxc.hu and Creative Commons
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