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5 Foods that Don’t Deserve their Bad Reputations

August 5, 2017 by Ginger Hultin MS RDN

Listen…if we can’t eat bananas then I just can’t go on. I regularly contribute to an awesome health and wellness site called Foodtrients where I write about evidence-based nutrition topics and wanted to be sure to share this one with you about my feelings on some of my FAVORITE foods!  I was craving something cold and sweet last night – and that could have meant ice cream. But instead I nabbed a frozen banana and blended it up with cocoa powder, almond milk and some ice. About 1/8 of the calories, no added sweetener and more fiber and antioxidants. So perfect. 

Alright – I should clarify that no foods are innately “good” or “bad” – it’s just all food for energy that we take in to fuel our bodies. BUT there are some foods that have developed bad reputations that are undeserved. You may or may not agree with me (would love to hear it in the comments!) but in my dietitian experience, these are some commonly vilified foods that in fact offer a lot of nutritional value. Here are my top 5 Foods that Don’t Deserve their Bad Reputations. 

5 Foods that Don't Deserve their Bad Reputations

5 Foods that Don’t Deserve their Bad Reputations

  1. Eggs

Research has undeniably changed on dietary fat and cholesterol in recent years, finding that the cholesterol that we consume in foods does not have the adverse effects once thought. Egg yolks are rich in vitamins and minerals including choline, selenium, biotin, B12, B2, B5, iodine, phosphorus, vitamins D and A . They are also a great source of healthy fats and protein, perfect for a snack or meal. Choline is a micronutrient that aids nerve signaling and supports the nervous and muscular systems. It supports the liver and the healthy transport of triglycerides. Choline doesn’t exist in many foods, but eggs are considered an excellent source! They are a great vehicle for veggies so be sure to add spinach, broccoli, mushrooms and kale into your egg dishes for flavor, fiber and even more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One of my favorite ways to have eggs is in a breakfast sandwich.

  1. Soy/Tofu

Unfortunately, some people including some medical professionals continue to cite old research when it comes to soy and tofu. Women remain fearful of plant ‘estrogens’ also called ‘phytoestrogens’ causing breast cancer. Men sometimes believe that eating these foods can cause feminizing effects or the dreaded “man boob”. Old research from years past based on animal studies (read mice and rats who metabolize phytoestrogens differently than humans) aside, newer studies have proven that the naturally occurring phytoestrogens in soy (and in hundreds of other plants we eat) fit into human estrogen receptors but are unable to stimulate them like human or animal estrogens are able to. That’s right: plant estrogens support human health by taking up real estate in the body. Soy products being negative for men is also simply a myth – in fact, these types of foods support men’s health. Soy and tofu are excellent sources of protein, healthy fats, and minerals like molybdenum, copper, manganese, phosphorus and iron and should be included in the diet for both women and men. Aim for organic, non-GMO, unprocessed soy products like tofu, tempeh, edamame beans or miso. I’ve got a plethora of tofu recipes on my site – check out some of my top faves like Tofu Zoodle Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce , Tofu Cranberry Protein Bowl, and Tofu Fresh Rolls with Spicy Noodles. 

  1. Corn

Folks avoid corn for a variety of reasons including the starch or sugar content, the belief that there’s no nutritional value, or because it is known as a highly genetically modified crop. Corn comes in many colors and varieties and is full of antioxidant carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which support healthy aging of the eyes. (I’ve got a great post on that topic here actually). Corn is also high in fiber and vitamins like pantothenic acid, phosphorus, vitamins B3 and B6. When considered a whole grain, corn can be incorporated into the diet in a healthy way. Shoot for organic corn because some conventional varieties tested by the Environmental Working Group have come up with pesticide residues. Try colorful local corn when it is in season to maximize antioxidant content. Include whole, unprocessed corn instead of corn-based food products like chips and other snack foods. I’ve got corn recipes that are perfect for cold and hot weather – check out my recipes for Corn Chowder and Fresh Corn Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

5 Foods that Don't Deserve their Bad Reputations.

  1. Bananas

Fourth of my 5 Foods that Don’t Deserve their Bad Reputations, many people avoid bananas because they have “too much sugar.” This tropical fruit is one of nature’s best portable snack food and contains high levels of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. Bananas commonly contain 14-15 grams of naturally occurring sugar but also offer 3 grams of fiber, including pectins, and the high water content common in fruits and vegetables. Because of these unique properties, bananas help regulate healthy digestion and serve as a prebiotic source for optimal gut health. There is no need to avoid bananas in the diet, but one a day is generally appropriate. Enjoy bananas on their own as a snack, or try my favorite ways to incorporate bananas using my recipes for Banana Ginger Oats or a Vegan Chocolate Banana Shake. You can peel bananas, wrap them in plastic and freeze them to use for later, especially as they get too ripe to eat. 

  1. Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes

Like other starchy veggies, people sometimes avoid potatoes because of their high carbohydrate content. But passing them up means missing out on a delicious and nutritious natural food. Potatoes are high in vitamins B6 and C, and minerals like potassium, copper, and phosphorus. Sweet potatoes contain high levels of beta-carotene. They are also high in fiber – one medium baked potato contains 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber. The starch in potatoes is rapidly absorbed and easily digested; that is true. Potatoes and sweet potatoes have a high glycemic index but the glycemic load is low. The low glycemic load indicates that one serving of potatoes will actually have little impact on your blood sugar. Potatoes are rarely eaten alone and are more often included in a meal with fat and protein sources which will help slow the rapid digestion that could occur if you ate one on it’s own. Potatoes can be served with a lot of added fat or oil (think sour cream on a baked potato, cheesy scalloped potatoes or French fries). They can also be served in a more natural way with fresh herbs and spices for flavor which compliments their healthy nature such as this Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes recipe. Be sure to incorporate potatoes into your diet as one of many options of natural, healthy starchy vegetables. 

5 foods that don't deserve their bad reputation

What do you think? Do you agree? What other foods have an unfair reputation?


1 Comment

  1. Kelli @ Hungry Hobby on August 16, 2017 at 8:58 am


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Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO

An award-winning, nationally recognized nutrition expert and media spokesperson.

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