Food: Here are 5 foods you thought were healthy but aren’t

This week’s Ask a Nutritionist, Noni de Long highlights concerns about vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, fruit juice, egg substitutes, and grains.

Dear Readers, Today’s column is a response to Suzy who asks why she is reading now that vegetable oils and margarine are unhealthy when only five years ago they were considered healthy options. She wants to know why that has changed and if there are other foods we’ve been told are healthier but actually aren’t. So let’s talk about the top five foods that I thought were healthy but aren’t.

5) vegetable oils

We are told that vegetable oils are healthier for us because saturated fats are believed to cause heart disease. This has since been exposed. It is a matter of historical record that the nutrition researcher, Ansel Keys, who was responsible for the ‘heart diet hypothesis’ that said saturated fat caused heart disease, selected and distorted the data to fit the narrative he wanted to support. We now know he took kickbacks from the processed food industry to do so. Heart health has come front and center as a problem in Western countries, and his research paved the way for much of the misinformation that persists today. This includes the idea that fats are bad for us and that vegetable oils are superior to natural saturated fats such as animal fats.

The truth is, saturated fats are more stable, less processed, and less inflammatory – especially when they are a byproduct of healthy animals that are properly grazed. The fat content of meat actually changes according to the way it is raised and fed. Grass-fed beef produces less-fat meat with less inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, for example. We now know that saturated fat raises “good” HDL cholesterol, and that it is very saturated – which helps overeating. We also know that low-fat diets promote increased carbohydrate intake – which is likely the biggest driver of risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome today.

Takeaway? Avoid processed, fortified, and synthetically produced grain and plant oils and replace with grass-fed or pasture-raised animal fats, organic coconut oil, grass-fed butter, organic avocado oil, or organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. Look for animals that have been ethically raised and fed biologically suitable foods, as all toxins to which the animal is exposed are stored in the body’s fat cells.

4) Fruit juices

At some point during the past few decades, consumers have become increasingly aware of all the added sugars in juices and have sought an alternative. The food industry responded to this demand with “natural and unsweetened” fruit juices. But are they better?

Since fruit contains vitamins, juice contains vitamins, right? Well, not really. Vitamins deteriorate from high temperatures, and in order to maintain shelf stability of fruit juice, they must be pasteurized – or quickly heated. This means that any vitamins that were in it before recovery are no longer there.

Well, at least it doesn’t contain sugar, right? Again, not really. Fructose – or fruit sugar – has been shown to be just as harmful to our health as regular table sugar. American pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig is best known for his work on this particular issue. It has shown that far from being benign, fructose is driving the diabetes epidemic and is not a better alternative.

Takeaway? Reduce your risk of diabetes and obesity and avoid fruit juices completely. Instead, opt for homemade herbal iced tea or fruit-infused water with some stevia if you like a sweeter flavor. When you feel like fruit, consume fresh, whole fruit to get all the benefits instead.

3) Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners have existed in various forms for a long time. The food industry wanted a way to sweeten foods without adding sugar and calories. But over time, it has become clear that artificial sweeteners do not help people lose weight, may contribute to metabolic diseases such as diabetes and weight gain, are known to damage the gut microbiome, and are often difficult to stop due to withdrawal symptoms in people who consume them daily. . For more information about the health problems of each of them, go here.

There are now superior natural sweeteners we can turn to that don’t carry these risks. I recommend monk fruit, stevia, unpasteurized honey, or raw palm sugar most often. It is sometimes mixed with erythritol, which appears to be a safe sweetener derived from corn and does not cause the gastrointestinal upset that often occurs. I often recommend a product called Whole Earth that doesn’t have any weird aftertaste and is a blend of a few of these products together.

2) replace eggs

Eggs are bad for you because of cholesterol, right? Once again, we are faced with the misinformation perpetuated by the diet heart hypothesis. You may not realize it, but eating cholesterol does not cause cholesterol to rise. Cholesterol is made and tightly regulated in the home by the body because it is essential for reproductive and brain health.

But it clogs the arteries, right? Cholesterol is part of the patch that the body makes to repair the lining of the artery walls that have been damaged. Blaming cholesterol for atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) is literally blaming the bandage for the problem.

Takeaway? Organic and pasture free whole eggs are extremely nutritious! It’s full of B vitamins and lecithin for the brain and nervous system – but it’s all in the egg yolk! I consider eggs to be a superfood that almost anyone can enjoy regularly with great benefit.

1) healthy grains

The most significant health misinformation we’ve been receiving in the past half-decade is also a byproduct of the heart-health myth, and that is the endorsement of cereal grains as essential to a healthy diet. We have followed these recommendations and people are getting fatter and sicker than ever before in our history. Children are now being diagnosed with what used to be only adults such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The recommendation to take pills regularly has a good relationship with this.

Farmers know that grains fatten animals. It is no different for humans. We’ve been told that slower-absorbing starch outperforms glucose, but in fact wholegrain bread has a glycemic index of about 31.2, making it a high glycemic food, and not much different from a candy bar when it comes to how high it is. Insulin. With insulin, we can never lose weight!

In addition, we know that pills are often very inflammatory. Not all, but a lot.

Takeaway? Most people benefit from reducing their intake of grains and replacing them with vegetables, animal products, nuts, seeds, and fruits. If we want to keep a particular favorite cereal recipe in our diet, I recommend keeping it a treat rather than a staple. Walking away from this balances our metabolism more than anything else we can do.

Thank you Suzy for the excellent question! As always, I welcome readers’ questions. You can write to me at any time at While you’re at it, sign up for my free newsletter at to be informed of upcoming online cooking classes and workshops where we’ll explore the role of delicious whole foods in good health. Subscribers will also get their name on the list for a $200 Homeopathic Christmas First Aid Kit!

Noni Nutrition

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