How to remove harmful foods from your diet plan

Rafiq Ebrahim offers the ultimate guide!

How to remove harmful foods from your diet plan
Decades ago, my grandmother, tempting me to eat eggs, told me that my father used to keep a couple of eggs in his pocket and eat them raw whenever he needed a boost of energy. It was believed universally that eggs provided strength and were an excellent source of food. Later, nutrition experts warned people not to eat raw eggs as generally they have e-coli and other harmful bacteria that can make you really sick. You may eat eggs freely if they are properly fried or boiled, killing harmful organisms – or so we were told. Years later, scientific research revealed that you should go easy on eggs overall, and not eat more than two of them in a week, as they increase your cholesterol levels and may be detrimental to your health. Now, medical researchers and nutrition experts have announced that eggs are not nearly as harmful as that, and that you can safely eat one egg a day. They say, now, that eggs are full of nutrients – Omega 3, Vitamin E and a good amount of protein!

A study conducted in Ecuador from March to December 2015, published in Pediatrics in its June 2017 issue, suggested that giving young children one egg a day for six months may help them achieve a healthy height and prevent stunted growth.

Five cups of coffee a day are supposed to make you live longer, a study suggests

So what is one to make of all these ups and downs in the reputation of the egg as a food? If only the issue were just limited to eggs!

According to Samantha Heller, registered dietitian at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, many foods commonly considered unhealthy are not actually that bad for you. People used to dread white potatoes, but now they say you can eat them without fear as they contain Vitamin C, B6 and fibre – if they are not peeled.

Butter was believed to be detrimental to health, especially for people who had heart problems or cholesterol, but recent research seems to suggest that it is no longer bad for your health, because it is now a matter of doubt whether whole saturated fats cause heart ailments! Compared to margarine which contains five times more trans-fat, butter is now, apparently, the safer alternative!

Dr Josh Axe, a medical professional and food expert points out that real butter is not only harmless for you in reasonable amounts, but can actually be health-promoting in a variety of ways (Dr. Axe – Food and Medicine).

"Cut down on coffee and tea," we were generally told in the past. But now medical researchers say that up to five cups of coffee or tea are okay!

And now we come to that bete noire of so many diet-conscious people. Sugar has always been condemned and is considered more harmful than even salt. But the experts now say that it is necessary for your body if taken in limited quantity – after all, as everyone knows, your body turns it into glucose, an important source of fuel for every cell in your body.

“Cut down on coffee and tea,” we were generally told in the past. But now medical researchers say that up to five cups of coffee or tea are okay! (Yes, really – I’m quoting Dr. Mercola from the National Health Newsletter of Septembet 07, 2015).

Moreover, in the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a government advisory committee for the first time said Americans could safely consume up to five cups of coffee a day, or approximately 400mgs of caffeine, with no detrimental effects. Consuming coffee means less calcium deposits in coronary arteries, we are told.

Then there is pizza! My youngest grandson who is eight, loves pizza, and if hungry he can devour two to three large slices. He is now allowed only a slice occasionally by his mother, as she believes it is fattening. Meanwhile, the latest research shows that a pizza slice – if easy on cheese – is good for you.

Cooking oils were always in the bad books of doctors and nutritionists, until researchers found out healthy ingredients in most oils – like Olive, Canola, Almond, Sesame, Mustard and Coconut.

Clarified butter – or ghee as it is called in South Asian countries – was considered a boon since ancient times and believed to have many health benefits. It was an item of great importance in the kitchen. Suddenly, a warning was issued by scientific experts that it is very harmful because of its fat contents – whole saturated fats and trans fats – which are detrimental to your cardiovascular health.

Popular discussion is filled with do's and dont's when it comes to food

And now recently, some nutritionists have found health benefits in it, and clarified butter is no longer believed to be that much of a killer.

If you’re trying to process all of these ups and downs, please also not that then it comes to eating, be aware that bugs are good for you! No kidding! The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation announced that consuming insects is a good way to boost protein intake. About 2 billion people around the world already eat bugs regularly, we are told.

“So what’s next?” you might be wondering. What are we to do? Sitting at a dining table with a lot of delectable dishes in front of you, you are confused and find yourself in the middle of a food dilemma. Is this dish good for health or not? What’s the latest research?

My advice is: do not be afraid to eat any food in moderate quantities – no matter what they tell you about how harmful it is. And don’t worry about the ‘expert opinions’. Those keep changing. If it were up to them, we’d stop eating anything!

Rafiq Ebrahim is a freelance writer and novelist