5 Healthy Organic Foods With Bad Reputations
Diets can range from the delicious to the downright bizarre (apple cider vinegar diet, anyone?). It only follows that advice on what not to eat seems just as widespread as what to eat. Unfortunately, many nutritious foods get a public shunning when the public mistakenly believes that their cons outweigh their pros. Lisa Sasson MS RD, clinical associate professor in the nutrition and food studies department at NYU, sees a similar trend among her own patients.
We asked Sasson for her input on some top bad-rap foods that you can feel good about eating. It's no "cookie diet," but in moderation it's still pretty sweet.
1. Whole Eggs
"A lot of people don't eat eggs because they are full of cholesterol," Sasson says, explaining that many eaters stick with just the whites. "But whole eggs are very, very nutritious. You shouldn't have excessive amounts, but the yolks are full of vitamins and nutrients." She advises us to not think of it as an all-or-nothing choice. "To make an omelette, you could have two whites and one whole," she says. "I think eggs can play an important part in anyone's diet."
While some foods on the list attract excessive debate, this choice often gets overlooked. "I don't think there has been enough attention given to mushrooms," says Sasson. "They're full of Vitamin D, which is very rare to find in natural foods." You'll find little boredom in taste thanks to the wide variety available. Toss them into a salad or use them on a sandwich to kick up the flavor.
"People say it's a high-fat food, and it is, but it's full of good fats," Sasson says. It's true; healthy-in-moderation monounsaturated fats make up more than 50% of the fruit's fat content, meaning you can rest easier incorporating this nutritional gem into your diet. Want to liven up a sandwich? Use avocado instead of butter or mayonnaise as a spread, or use slices in place of cheese.
4. Frozen Fruits / Frozen Vegetables
Surprised? These two are indeed misunderstood, but what tends to keep shoppers away is the process by which frozen fruits and vegetables are prepared. "People take one look at vegetables and they always think fresh is the way to go. For frozen vegetables, when they're harvested, they're flash-frozen, so they keep almost all of their nutrients," she says. "One of the best parts about frozen produce is that you can pick types from every season. Artichokes are very seasonal, for example, so buying frozen means you can enjoy them all year round." For those with busy schedules, frozen is a great alternative to fresh thanks to the cutting, chopping, and cleaning already done for you. Some of Sasson's favorites include berries, papaya, mango, asparagus, peppers, and broccoli.
Oh, what's in a name? Turns out your favorite sandwich topping isn't enough like real butter to give you enough reason to stay away. Filling yet nutritious snacks, nut butters and soy butter both get the green light from Sasson. You can opt for natural peanut butter, but don't sweat it if regular is your only option. "If the only one you have in your cupboard is Jif, I don't think it's much of a problem," she says.
--photo courtesy of Lisa Sasson; additional images by iStockphoto/Scrambled, iStockphoto/morningarage, iStockphoto/MariuszBlach, iStockphoto/Saddako, and iStockphoto/gojak
Davis Jones is an editorial intern at Sierra. His love for the outdoors began when he stepped on a fish hooks as a 12-year-old and cried, in a burst of epiphanic clarity, "I'm too young to die." He attends the University of San Diego and enjoys camping, hiking, backpacking, and other activities that more or less benefit the mosquito population.