Not that long ago, we were told that fats were a no-no in our diets, salt was harmful and butter promoted heart disease. A lot of us structured our family meals around low fat foods, thinking we were doing the right thing to help our kids stay healthy. Here’s some safe unhealthy foods.
But recent research has proven otherwise. We now know that healthy fats are good for the growing brains of our children, that low fat foods are full of unsafe chemicals and sweeteners and that the healthiest, most filling way to feed a family is with real food. In fact, the U.S. Government is considering dropping warnings about the dangers of cholesterol from their recommended dietary guidelines.
10 Unhealthy Foods that are Safe to Eat
Cholesterol, though, is only one of the items that has gotten an undeserved bad rap. Let’s take a look at some of the foods we can now welcome back into our family’s diet – with pleasure!
Growing up, I remember my dad being taken off salt completely to lower his elevated blood pressure, which was the norm back in the 80’s. However, while it’s true that studies show that removing salt can lower blood pressure, it can actually be harmful to remove it from your diet. Sodium is a nutrient that our body requires. In fact, Scientific American reported on the benefits of salt in 2011, including one study that said, “the more sodium people ate, the less likely they were to die from heart disease.” That said, the American Heart Association reports that many studies have shown that African Americans are more sensitive to hypertension caused by salt than other ethnic groups. Studies are unclear on the reason behind this genetic association, but it’s worth keeping in mind when you are buying for your family. While still a matter of controversy, we think that eliminating salt altogether is a bad idea. You may want to watch your intake by avoiding processed foods altogether. Instead, you can cook with salt, for the best way to take it in. You can also check out the benefits of Himalayan Salt, which include immune system support, allergy prevention and decreased blood pressure.
This formerly unhealthy food that is now safe to eat in moderation. Now, I’m not going to recommend you go on a daily bacon-eating binge. After all, all bacon contains nitrates, which can be unhealthy for some people (even the naturally occurring ones), although the dangers of nitrates are a subject of controversy. But bacon always gets a bad rap, when in fact, half of its fat is the healthy kind and high in oleic acid may help prevent diabetes, according to Weston A Price. Bacon is full of vitamins and minerals, and sodium (see salt above). We recommend pastured-raised bacon fed naturally. Bacon is heavy and greasy and that may not always play well with a sensitive stomach but otherwise, add it to your child’s plate – once in a while!
3. Pastured Eggs
Another flexible food, the real pop from pastured eggs comes from the yolk – so stop eating only the whites! Eggs are not only a good source of protein and Omega-3, they contain lutein for healthy eyes, choline for healthy cells and brain development, and essential amino acids for healthy hair and nails, plus folic acid and B12 for optimal neural and nervous system health, not to mention other vitamins and minerals. You may even be able feed a toddler eggs every day, although your best bet is to change up the foods they eat daily. Learn how to safely choose eggs for your family.
These have long had reputation for being unhealthy, but avocados are loaded with fiber, antioxidants and healthy fats. They also have more nutrients than other fruits (yes, they are a fruit!) and less sugar than most. Finally, they help you control your appetite and are flexible and are listed on this year’s Clean Fifteen list from Environmental Working Group – so dig in! And if you really want to know all the benefits of avocados we have 11 reasons why you should be eating more of them.
5. Grass Fed Butter
Miss butter? I did too, until I learned that grass fed butter is actually good for you! According to Authority Nutrition, grass fed butter is loaded with Vitamin K2, which prevents calcium from building up – and clogging – your arteries. It also contains one of the best sources of a fatty acid called butyrate, which has anti-inflammatory qualities and may actually be a better way to fight heart disease. Grass fed butter may also help prevent cancer, control blood sugar and hunger, lower cholesterol and boost the immune system. If you can’t tolerate or are allergic to dairy proteins, we recommend trying ghee – real butter with the proteins removed!
This delicious and filling fruit has long been vilified for its sugar and starch content but your body cannot absorb the type of starch it contains and therefore, you won’t get most of the sugar or carbs. Bananas, however, are another great source of butyrate. They are also filling, the best base for almost any smoothie and so flexible to cook with that you can actually make bread from them without flour – perfect for anyone doing a grain or gluten free diet. Bananas have also been observed to fight depression since they contain a chemical that the body converts to serotonin, which can elevate your mood. They are also a great source of calcium. And, a 2005 Swedish study showed that diets high in produce, especially bananas, seemed to lower the risk of a particular kind of cancer.
7. Raw Milk
Illegal in many places and controversial in all, raw milk is another “unhealthy” food that is safe to eat. Despite the FDA’s campaign against raw milk, it’s unclear whether homogenized, pasteurized conventional milk – which can be full of bovine growth hormones and susceptible to bacteria like E.coli after pasteurization – is actually safer than raw milk because few studies are available. Organic, grass fed cows are much less susceptible to these diseases – and that makes raw milk a choice worth considering for your family. RealMilk.com cites a 2003 FDA study that estimated deli meats and hot dogs are 9-10 times more likely to be dangerous than raw milk. And in 2013, the New York Times reported on raw milk, citing a study that showed that European children who drank unpasteurized milk were less likely to get asthma. In America, the Amish consume raw milk and that correlates with less allergies. In fact, raw milk may contain probiotics to help you balance your gut so consider trying organic raw milk the next time you see it available. There are many other reasons why raw milk is beneficial, but we do recommend you buy organic from a trusted and recommended brand, like Organic Pastures. They test daily for bad bacteria and the test results are available within hours, not days.
Most of us moms enjoy that moment when the kids are safely on the school bus and we can have a little “me time” with that cup of coffee. For years, coffee has been vilified too: it’s a diuretic, it’s addictive, it can speed you up. If any of these are a problem for you, skip to the next item. But coffee can also have some positive qualities, too. Coffee drinkers may live longer and coffee may lower risk of melanoma and Type 2 diabetes, among other diseases. There has even been controversy about coffee’s ability to help prevent ADHD in kids – but I wouldn’t advise putting your child on coffee. After all, it is still an addictive substance, as most people who’ve had to go without can attest to! Check out the pros and cons of drinking Bulletproof Coffee.
9. Grass Fed Red Meat
Suffering from much of the same bad rap as bacon, red meat can be healthy for a growing child – if you buy the right kind. We recommend grass fed, organic only beef. This type of beef is leaner, has a better Omega-3 to Omega-6 balance, less risk of bacteria contaminants like Salmonella, less exposure to pesticides and, according to The Mayo Clinic, more nutrients and antioxidants than conventional beef. What better way to get hungry kids full than a grass fed hamburger wrapped in lettuce? It’s the perfect meat for summer grilling too.
The old adage of chocolate being bad for you probably has more to do with how it’s made. Generally, chocolate is loaded with high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, artificial colors and flavors, and plenty of unhealthy additives. However, organic high quality chocolate can be good for you. It may lower your cholesterol, prevent memory decline and reduce risk of heart disease and stroke. This is great news for kids – and, I suspect, many moms too! For your healthiest selection, choose organic and/or GMO free dark organic chocolate without additives.
How do we manage to make the most nutritious, affordable and filling choices for our kids? One way we can do this is by making sure we have the right information when do shop and plan our menus for the week. Keep reading labels and make smart choices avoiding toxic ingredients that can harm our kids. Once labeled dangerous and unhealthy, these foods are now safe to eat. Our kids need nutrition that feeds their growing brains and keeps them sharp so don’t be afraid of buying real food that kids love. It will do their bodies good!
Disclosure: Bookieboo LLC has worked with numerous brands in the natural space, including Organic Pastures.