Last week I released a well received article on the foods that I felt were “overrated” or simply not as healthy as you might have been led to believe.
This week, I decided to try my hand at the other side of the coin. I asked myself the simple question Which foods out there are underrated?
In all honesty, I found answering this question to be quite a bit harder because in order for a food to be truly underrated, it has to have not only have a bad reputation but truly truly deserve a much better one.
Take a look down below to see what I came up with, and let me know if you agree or disagree with my selections!
The Top 10 Foods That Are Healthier Than You Probably Think They Are
Carrots: The reputation of carrots as one of the sweeter vegetables out there has probably hurt them a little bit. In reality, they are a very accessible source of Vitamin A, fibre and potassium, which many of us need more of. As far as calories are concerned, you can eat 3 large carrots for less than 100 calories, so don’t sweat it.
Breakfast Cereal: Yes , there are many poor breakfast cereal choices out there but there are also several varieties ( especially muesli or bran-based) that tend to be very high in fibre and nutrients. Given how busy the average person is on a daily basis, it would be a shame to completely alienate breakfast cereal as a healthy, convenient breakfast option.
Tofu: In my private practice, about 95% of my client give me a look of disgust when I bring up tofu. They are either appalled by the very thought of it, or have been led to believe by questionable sources that has toxic effects on their health. For the record, there is no good evidence to suggest that soy lowers testosterone in men or increases the risk of breast cancer in women ( I will be discussing this at length in the near future). I will tell you this though, tofu is a superb protein-rich meat alternative that will do wonders for your health in the long term. Oh, and as far as taste goes, I personally guarantee you that it tastes better than you think it does, especially when an appropriate recipe is followed.
Onions & Garlic: With all of the attention that leafy green vegetables get ( as deserved as it is) , I find that other members of the veggie family may tend to get neglected. I know that I have personally been guilty of this in the past myself. I feel like onions an garlic certainly fall into this category, especially because they are more accessory vegetables. They are also known to be serious digestive culprits for those living with IBS. For the rest of us, however, these vegetables and the others in their family ( such as leeks) are extraordinarily important foods that contain potent sulfur-based disease fighting compounds and should be incorporated into your dishes and recipes as often as possible.
All Fruit: Yes, I am going to go on record as saying that every single piece of fruit is underrated. The furor borne from the anti-sugars craze somehow migrated from pop drinks to fruit. It has come to the point where clients tell me they have reduced or eliminated their fruit intake over the fear of excess dietary sugars. Behind vegetables, fruit are among the most nutrient dense and healthful foods for human consumption. Yes, they contain calories, but this really only starts to matter if you are consuming an excessive amount. Depending on your calorie needs and overall dietary pattern, there is no reason for an otherwise healthy person to be consuming less than a few pieces of fruit a day.
Sardines: When people talk about types of fish you should be eating, it tends to be salmon that always comes up. The reality? Sardines are an affordable alternative that also happen to be an equally an excellent source of Vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, protein AND calcium if you eat the bones.
Popcorn: When popcorn comes up, everyone thinks of the heavily buttered and salted movie version, but good old fashioned plain air popped popcorn is actually an incredibly healthy low calorie snack that truly feels fun.
Whole Grain Bread & Pasta: The anti-carb , anti-wheat and anti-gluten movement has spun completely out of control. I obviously completely support the avoidance of wheat in the proper medical context, but if you are omitting it for any other reason you are, quite simply, doing yourself a disservice. Whole grain wheat products are affordable sources of dietary fibre, slowly digesting carbohydrate and a variety of vitamins and minerals that will help keep you nourished and satiated at mealtime.
Eggs/Shrimp: Eggs and shrimp share a very notable similarity, they have a very high dietary cholesterol content. The good news is, the cholesterol in food is not as important a determinant of your blood cholesterol levels as we used to think. Want the long story short? There is nothing wrong with moderate fish and egg consumption. Shrimp are valuable as a source of omega-3 fatty acids for non-fish eaters and eggs are a great source of vitamin D, which is found naturally in very few foods.
Margarine: For the record, modern margarine is simply a blend of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated ( aka “healthy fat”) rich vegetable oils. I find that many people tend not to realize that you won’t be finding trans fats in the current market of margarine products ( in Canada anyway) and there are even margarine products are fortified with plant sterols, an ingredient which can help lower your cholesterol level ( something that butter certainly can’t do).
What do you think about my selections, and which ten foods would make YOUR list?
Remember that, when you really sit down to think about it, it really is a challenge to select foods that are TRULY underrated.
I promise you that I put a whole lot of thought into this list!
Until next time,
Andy De Santis RD MPH