If you listened to everything the so-called ‘experts’ and doom merchants of diet had to say about food, you’d never eat again.
During the last few years just about everything we eat has been labeled as ‘dangerous’.
Even foods that generations have regarded as essential part of a good, daily diet have been under suspicion.
But what’s the real truth?
Just how good or bad are the basic everyday foods we eat? What are the real risks?
Here are the facts…
Milk: Full-cream milk is dangerous fill of fat. Drink too much and you will dramatically increase your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke. Milk can also cause allergy problem – especially among children.
Facts: You can buy skimmed or semi skimmed milks which contain far less fat and are, therefore, far less dangerous. Milk also contains calcium which helps to keep ones strong. For babies, it is the chief source of protein.
Note: If you drink milk everyday, or use it in the preparation of dishes, make sure it’s skimmed.
Butter: Rich in saturated animal fats, butter is a major cause of heart disease and other circulatory problems.
Facts: You don’t need butter at all. It contains small quantities of Vitamins A and D but you can get these from other foods. Choose instead from low fat spreads which do the same job as butter more safely and more cheaply.
Note: Use butter sparingly as an occasional treat may be.
Cheese: Hard cheeses, such as parmesan and stilton, are rich in fat. But soft, French Cheeses such as brie and camembert, which are low in fat, can be rich sources of infective organisms such as listeria.
Facts: All cheeses contain a wonderful range of vitamins and minerals plus good, essential protein. And low fat cheddar cuts out the health risks.
Note: Buy low fat, low calorie cheeses such as cottage cheese and Edam. Pregnant women, children and elderly should avoid soft cheeses such as brie and camembert. To stay slim and avoid heart trouble, look for low fat version of your favorite cheese.
Yoghurt: The recent botulism scare frightened many westerners off yoghurt. But a bigger problem is caused by the fact that mass marketed yoghurts are rich in fat and calories.
Facts: ‘Live’ or ‘active’, natural unsweetened yoghurt is a high protein, low fat food which aids digestion and can help protect you against many kinds of infections.
Note: Natural, unsweetened yoghurt is an excellent food. Mix in chopped, fresh fruit to make a nourishing and healthy dessert.
Sugar: Full of calories but empty of goodness. You probably eat more than you think. Manufacturers add sugar to just about everything – from soup (to improve the texture) to tinned meat (to keep it soft). Too much sugar will increase your risk of suffering from tooth decay. Scientists have also linked a high sugar intake to cancers of the breast and intestine.
Facts: Sugar is a good source of instant energy – useful if you’re feeling exhausted or need a quick ‘lift’. Naturally occurring sugars – in honey, for example do contain contains vitamins and minerals. Artificial sweeteners are now available if you can’t drink unsweetened tea or coffee.
Note: Make a real effort to cut down your sugar intake. Look at food labels and buy unsweetened products whenever possible (you’ll be astonished to see ho many products contain sugar – even some varieties of baked beans!). Use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar in drinks and my low calorie soft drinks.
When you buy fresh fruit juice, make sure you ask for it unsweetened. Fruits have enough of natural sugars to satisfy your taste buds.
Potatoes: By themselves potatoes are great. But cook them (as chips) in animal fat or mash them with butter and you turn a healthy food into a health hazard.
Facts: Potatoes are a fantastic food source – full of vitamins and fiber. Potatoes are a good source of energy which gives carbohydrates for children. Bake them in their skin and get the best out of them.
Note: If you must have chips, brush the potato slices very lightly in oil and bake them.
Bread: The white sliced oaf is so tasteless that you have to smear butter on it to make it edible. Also, it is low in fiber.
Facts: Most bakers now stock an excellent range of tasty breads. Bread is rich in protein, Vitamins and fiber.
Note: Whole meal bread is best.
Salt: If you have high blood pressure – or you have a family history of high blood pressure you should keep your salt intake low. Many women who suffer from fluid retention or pre-menstrual syndrome would suffer less if they cut their salt intake. This isn’t always easy since many tinned and packaged foods come with added salt.
Facts: Most manufacturers now label their food – so you can see at glance which contains salt. To determine the about (of salt) in ready foods, a good rule of thumb is to see how high up in the list of ingredients it comes. In general, the higher the list, the more the quantity is.
Note: If you find food without salt tasteless, try other flavoring such as lemon juice, vinegar or garlic.
Eggs: The main problem with eggs is hat they are so rich in cholesterol that they can be a heart hazard. There is also a risk of salmonella infection, although it is some what exaggerated.
Facts: You can reduce your risk of infection my avoiding cracked eggs and dishes made with raw eggs. Eggs contain nothing you can’t get from other sources, so you don’t have to eat them.
Note: Adults should limit themselves to two or three eggs a week beaus of the cholesterol content. Eggs are an important source of protein for young children, but make sure they have them cooked, not raw.
Red Meat: Most read meat is rich in fat and doctors have linked red meat to heart disease and cancer. Other disease known to be associated with eating too much red meat include: high blood pressure, indigestion, varicose veins, strokes, piles, gallstones, gout, diabetes and constipation.
Facts: Meat is rich in protein and iron.
Note: Eat red meat no more than once or twice a week at most. Reduce the risk by choosing lean cuts. White meat, like chicken, is also an excellent source of protein. Just make sure you trim off the skin that’s where most of the chicken fat lurks.
Coffee: More than 3-4 cups a day will make your heart beat faster and send your blood pressure sky high. Coffee can keep you awake and make you depressed. It can cause headaches, anxiety and irritability.
Facts: It’s the cheapest and most effective stimulant you can buy legally. If you’re feeling drowsy, a cup of coffee will revive you quickly. Coffee will also help revive mild attacks of asthma.
Note: Use it cautiously. Coffee is a powerful drug. It has also been linked, although not, conclusively, to raised cholesterol.