From villains to heroes: 5 foods redeemed by nutritional science

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  1. Eggs

Once considered harmful to heart health due to their high cholesterol content, eggs have been vindicated.

In the last two decades, research has repeatedly shown that at normal intakes, dietary cholesterol has very little influence on blood cholesterol levels.

Now recognized for their high protein content, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, eggs are no longer a dietary villain.

  1. Fat Spreads

Margarine, made from vegetable fat, replaced butter as the preferred spread in most developed countries due to its lower price and the push for less saturated fat to prevent coronary heart disease (CHD).

However, a link was found between trans fat (produced when partially hydrogenating vegetable fats) and CHD.

Regulations and industry changes have mostly eliminated trans fats, and modern vegetable oil-based spreads are considered a healthy replacement for saturated fat.

  1. Potatoes

Often lumped in with unhealthy high glycaemic index foods, potatoes are actually a rich source of carbohydrates, vitamin C, some B vitamins, and trace minerals.

The way they are prepared, such as cooking and cooling, increases resistant starch, which acts like dietary fibre and may positively impact gut bacteria.

  1. Dairy

Despite confusing health messages, dairy remains an important part of the diet due to its high protein and calcium content. The fat content and type of fat matter when choosing dairy products.

Regular dairy consumption is not a concern if overall calorie and fat intake is healthy. The UK Eat Well Plate still promotes dairy as part of a healthy diet, especially lower-fat options.

  1. Raw Nuts and Nut Butters

Though often maligned for their high fat and calorie content, raw nuts are now seen as a key part of a healthy diet and even weight management.

Recent studies indicate that eating raw nuts can reduce the risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular diseases and sudden cardiac death.

Nut butters, like peanut butter, can also be a part of a healthy diet thanks to their protein, healthy fats, fibre, and micronutrients.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that all foods can fit into a healthy diet, and we should be wary of labeling foods as ‘superfoods’ or ‘villains’. It’s always about balance and moderation.

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