Most people get caught in the ‘what not to eat’ pages that they fail to understand the concept of nutrition. A food isn’t always bad or good. Whether a food item is healthful or not purely depends on the ingredients and to an extent cooking/processing method. If my plate of meat and vegetables contains fried chicken and gravied vegetables, is that still a healthful meal? What if my fresh fruit juice contains a truckload of sugar? What is my anti-nutrient free real food nutrition plan is 70% rice? On the other hand, if my ice cream contains mostly cream, milk, eggs and berries with a little bit of honey, is that still junk? What if my dosa is cooked with ghee, topped with an eggs, an ounce of cheese and a cup of vegetables?
Thanks to conventional wisdom (and the low fat mafia and the low carb squad and the vegan police and the paleo primates), we’ve successfully reached a point in life where we have no idea what to eat and what not do. And as a result, we end up not eating foods that are shining with nutrients and replace them with nutrient-less cheap fillers like grains.
Here is a list of 5 such foods that taste delicious and are undeniably healthful.
Contrary to what you’ve been told, ghee is not fattening and is in no way atherosclerosis promoting. Ghee contains the same amount of fat and calories as any other oil but, unlike processed industrial seed oils like sunflower oil, groundnut oil, canola oil etc., ghee is rich in many nutrients that are essential to the human body.
Consume ghee on a daily basis because it…
- contains vitamins A, D, E & K.
- has a high smoke point and hence is perfect for high heat cooking.
- contains essential fatty acids.
- is free of lactose (for the intolerant).
- is free of oxidizable polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Watch out for over consumption ‘cos anything you cook with ghee tastes bloody awesome!
2. Dark chocolate
Chocolate isn’t the first guy to show up when you call for health, but that is because of the sugar content and other processed junk and preservatives that are added. Chocolate is (or at least should be) rich in cocoa which has myriad health benefits. So what happens if you pull out the junk, preservatives and fillers, reduce the sugar content and increase the cocoa content? It starts to taste like crap? You couldn’t be further from the truth. It tastes pretty darn amazing and ends up becoming a super healthy snack.
Eat dark chocolate everyday because it…
- is one of the most potent anti-oxidants ever known to man. Yep, way better than green tea and your acai berry madness.
- is rich in vitamins and minerals required for the proper functioning of the human body.
- has been shown to reduce CVD risk and blood pressure.
- Dark chocolate means >80% cocoa. Don’t fall for the “Dark chocolate!!” marketing scam you see in pretty much all chocolate bars nowadays.
- Banana + dark chocolate + quick zap in the microwave (~10-20 sec per banana) = best sweet thing you’ve had.
- Watch out for over consumption. A couple of 1″ squares of dark chocolate is all you need per day.
- Add a pinch of cocoa and coffee to your cooking (especially red meat) and take flavoring to the next level.
3. Ice cream
Like chocolate, ice cream gets the bad wrap it does due to the high sugar, junk and preservative content. But if you break it down, you’ll see that ice cream can be truly healthful when made at home using the right ingredients. If you can make your own ice cream with full fat milk (or coconut milk), whole eggs, honey, vanilla beans and/or cocoa and/or fresh fruits and berries, there is absolutely nothing you need to worry about.
Eat homemade ice cream because it…
- is free of junk and anti-nutrients.
- is rich in fat soluble vitamins.
- is an absolute treat with respect to taste, appearance and smell.
- Honey or sugar, make sure you use as little as possible. The idea is not to come up with a cloyingly sweet concoction but to enjoy a mildly sweet creamy frozen treat.
- Since the ingredients used are extremely calorie dense, watch your portion sizes. Once again, the idea is to enjoy it as a treat and not to make it a meal.
- Vary the fruits you use and keep your palate fresh.
- Feel free to dump the dairy and go the sorbet route. And use tender coconut water in place of water for some added flavor.
Pretty much everyone’s told you mangoes are “fattening”. Honestly, I have no idea what that means. Mangoes, like other fruits, are rich in carbohydrates but are fairly less calorie dense and completely devoid of allergens compared to the regular starches (oats, rice, wheat etc.). A 100g serving of fresh mango contains only about 70 calories (most of which are from carbohydrates) but is also rich in vitamins C and A. So if you live in a place where mangoes are in season, eat up!
Eat mangoes because they are…
- a seasonal fruit and hence are only available for a few months during the year.
- rich in vitamins C and A.
- absolutely delightful and can brighten up any meal.
- extremely effective in controlling sugar cravings.
- Like with any fruit, watch your portion sizes ‘cos the total sugar consumed can easily creep up.
- If you’re prone to an increase in body temperature, be sure to drink some milk (or eating ‘cooling foods’) after.
A perfect example of a hero being bad mouthed as a villain, thanks to half-science and improper understanding of nutrition. Coconut and coconut products with all the health benefits they have to offer, are as close to magic as you can get.
Eat coconuts and other coconut products because…
- Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a medium chain saturated fatty acid.
- Coconut oil incredibly heat-stable and hence, like ghee, are perfect for high heat cooking.
- Coconut products are rich in medium chain triglycerides.
- They help in balancing our your lipid profile by increasing your HDL.
- Coconut oil is anti-fungal helping with candida, IBS and other gut related issues.
- They help with skin and hair care.
- They help in keeping your immunity levels up high.
- Coconut flakes, coconut milk, coconut flesh, coconut water, tender coconut – they are all fair game.
- Watch out for packaged processed coconut milk. Read the ingredients and make sure it contains only coconut and water.
- Like other fatty foods, coconut products tend to be significantly calorie dense and hence monitoring portion sizes is critical.
So next time you deem something unhealthy, think twice ‘cos nutrition isn’t about going on a diet or eating boring foods or giving up on certain foods or going blahblah-free or even making compromises. Sustainable nutrition aimed towards long-term wellness starts where health, taste and consistency meet.