Not all foods are created equal…especially these 7 superfoods (many people think are bad for them).
“Superfoods” are nutrient-rich foods considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
From blueberries to spinach, salmon, tomatoes, acas, cherries, garlic, walnuts, Brussels sprouts and avocados, these foods get rants and raves for their antioxidants that ward off free radicals and stacked vitamin and mineral profiles.
The 7 Superfoods You Thought Were Bad
However, beyond “mainstream” superfoodism, there are several outcasts—other foods—that equally pack a power punch in their nutrient density, and, at one time or another, you’ve been told they are bad for you.
1. Potatoes (Cooked & Cooled)
Potatoes—both white and sweet potatoes—are nutrient powerhouses first and foremost for the PRE-biotics (healthy fiber) and resistant starch found in them. Resistant starch is a type of starch that is not digested in the stomach or small intestine, reaching the colon intact. Thus, it “resists” digestion, and does not “spike” blood sugar like some other carbohydrates do.
In addition, pre-biotics are necessary to feed healthy gut bacteria (probiotics) in your gut. Without pre-biotics, our probiotics and gut flora will not remained healthy and balanced. Potatoes are one of a handful of pre-biotic foods that help promote healthy gut health—especially when they are cooked, then cooled.
Bananas have been referred to as the “fattening fruits” due to their higher sugar content than most other fruits. However, the fructose sugar in fruits, for one, is 100% different than high-fructose corn syrup and other sugar add-ins. And like cooked and cooled potatoes, green tipped bananas and plantains contain resistant starch that help build a healthy gut microbiome. This is one of the superfoods you should not miss.
3. White Rice
“Clean eating tips” tell us that “brown is better,” however unlike brown rice, white rice does not contain the extra husk on its outer shell that’s linked to a higher amount of indigestible anti-nutrients (lectins/phytates) that actually bind to the minerals and vitamins in the foods you eat, inhibiting absorption in your gut.
White rice on the other hand is straight up the rice grain in its rawest form, and in moderation, can also provide your body with some healthy natural pre-biotics without spending money on dance supplements. Soak your rice overnight before cooking to remove any residual unwanted toxins and anti-nutrients (lectins/phytates) from the outer shel prior to consumption.
Whip up a batch of white parboiled rice—like Jasmine white rice—a couple times per week to pair alongside your chicken stir fry, baked salmon or other dinner delight. (Note: “Parboiled rice” means that the complete grain of rice is soaked, steamed and dried, then the hull is removed to make parboiled rice).
4. Full Fat Dairy
Lactose and casein intolerance are two of the highest intolerances for people—ranked as part of the “great 8” (alongside foods like gluten, soy, peanuts and eggs). However, the more fat in the dairy (i.e. full-fat grass-fed dairy)—including grass-fed milk, yogurt and cheese—all contain less lactose if you buy them in the real deal form (i.e. not Yoplait yogurt).
How can this be?! Full-fat, grass-fed dairy trumps any non-fat, low-fat or “light and fluffy” versions any time for a few reasons:
1.) Full-fat, grass-fed dairy is real food—milk in its truest form— (not processed like the low fat versions), and when we eat real food, our body (and digestion) knows what’s up;
2.) The fats in dairy help us DIGEST our food and absorb vitamins and minerals in the first place. In order to absorb calcium, for instance, we need Vitamin D—a fat soluble vitamin. Low-fat and fat-free versions miss this—making them MORE indigestible;
3.) Full-fat, grass-fed versions of yogurt and kefir contain natural probiotics. Low fat versions that are heated, processed and chemically treated do not (the probiotics are eradicated or made very little).
4.) Full-fat, grass-fed makes you more satiated. Fat=satisfaction. Without it, we want more or get hungry within an hour or two.
Dairy may still not agree with you 100%, but experiment by trying the full-fat, grass-fed plain versions, or if anything, sister foods—like Goat’s Milk. My favorite as of late? Kefir—particularly Goat’s Milk Kefir (Bonus: It’s stacked with probiotics as well since it is a fermented food).
5. Red Meat
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, plus protein, plus Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (a healthy fatty acid linked to anti-inflammation and blood sugar balance) make grass-fed red meat a superfood. Unfortunately, meat often gets a bad rep for “causing” cancer, heart disease or high blood pressure without accurate research to support it. What these claims should state is “bad meat” (just like processed, packaged foods) causes inflammation and disease—not meat itself.
There IS a difference in conventional, grain-fed and farm-raised meat vs. grass-fed, pastured, sustainably raised meat. There IS a difference in eating an animal that was raised on Big Macs, Ding Dongs and Coca Cola in cramped, closed confined quarters and administered antibiotic shots, versus a healthy, humanely-raised animal that ate fresh grass, had no hormones injected into its body and lived in its natural environment—roaming the fields on that grass.
Complete proteins—like red meat—contain all the essential amino acids that you cannot get from anywhere else but protein sources themselves, and red meat—like pastured chicken, eggs and wild-caught fish are in a completely different ball game than your Walmart Supercenter’s butcher shop or National Beef Packing Company’s conventional meat.
6. Butter & Ghee
Fat does NOT make you fat—butter included. Butter and ghee contain Butyrate, an Essential Short-Chain Fatty Acid that promotes anti-inflammation and a healthy gut flora. These fatty acids are also burned for energy much more easily than long-chain fatty acids—making them energy and metabolism powerhouses.
Yup, contrary to popular belief, Saturated Fats like butter and ghee are essential for boosting your metabolism, blood sugar balance, antioxidant defense, brain health, detoxification and strong mitochondria (cell energy). In addition, Saturated Fats, like butter and ghee, are NOT the culprits to blame for heart disease.
Most of us grew up being told that foods like red meat, eggs and bacon raise our cholesterol levels. This diet-heart myth (that eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol in our blood)—originated with studies more than 60 years ago.
In fact, did you know that 80% of all heart attack patients do not have “high cholesterol” markers?
Moreover, while diet does play a role in the balance of your cholesterol—you actually need more healthy cholesterol in your diet (not less). Your body tightly regulates the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling internal production; when cholesterol intake in the diet goes down, the body makes more. When cholesterol intake in the diet goes up, the body makes less.
Additionally, it’s important to recognize what “high cholesterol” even means. “High cholesterol” essentially means “inflammation,” and most of this inflammation has to do with the health of your liver. If you eat a LOW-FAT, processed fat (vegetable oils), refined and packaged food, artificial sweetener rich or sugar rich diet, your liver suffers (hello “high cholesterol”).
7. Egg Yolks
Similar to butter, eggs—particularly the yolks—get a lot of flack for having saturated fat. However, remember, fat does a body good. Egg yolks also contain phospholipids—fats directly responsible for encompassing the cell membranes of your cells. Without phospholipids, your cells become more permeable and more immune to “fat storage,” toxin overload, and inflammation.
Couple the healthy fat in egg yolks with their stacked nutrient profile, including: Vitamin A (healthy vision, skin, hair and cell membranes), Vitamin D (energy, fat metabolism and digestion), B Vitamins (energy), Selenium (healthy Thyroid and metabolism), and carotenoids (antioxidants that give the yolk its yellow color) to ward off “free radicals.”
The Bottom Line
Don’t believe everything you always hear—especially food rules. The realer your food is where “superfoods” rule. Quality matters.