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Good Foods - Bad Foods - or are they?

A recent survey shows that South Africans have an unhealthy appetite for junk food.

15/08/2017

From crispy and deep-fried to high fat and cholesterol content, South Africans have a massive appetite for fast-foods. In a recent report, the Mail & Guardian revealed that more than 80 percent of adults queue monthly at local takeaway outlets.

We know that eating well is essential for maintaining good health, and good health will reduce your chances of possible future treatments and Medical Aid costs but, unfortunately, today's hectic lifestyle makes it easier to turn to a fast-food outlet rather than have to whip up a healthy meal at home.

Over the years there has been some controversy concerning Unhealthy Food That May Be Good For You. Certain foods once considered a no-no are back on the list of healthy foods, when consumed in moderation. Hippo.co.za asked us to have a look at what the experts are saying and share our own opinion in this article.

Jenna Bowes, a clinical dietitian at MME Dietitians, looks at three food items you shouldn't be hesitant to add to your daily menu.

One of the big baddies that supposedly contribute huge amounts of fat to your diet, as well as causing a significant increase in cholesterol, are egg yolks. Eggs are one of the few foods that give us Vitamin D and, while egg yolk does contain fat, they are no more detrimental to our weight or cholesterol levels than the fat found in a lean chicken breast.

Fat is essential in our daily diet but, as with many foods, it should be in moderation. Eggs are in fact a brilliant, and economic, source of protein and provide a range of vitamins and minerals.

Possibly the most versatile and affordable carbohydrate, potatoes can be prepared as wedges, fries, and mash, to name a few. Some of these potato variations can be high in fats and salt and may contribute to weight gain if frequently eaten in those forms.

A potato in its whole form, unpeeled and boiled or baked, with a few added condiments such as a knob of butter, a dollop of cottage cheese or seasoned with some black pepper or freshly chopped chives, offers us a source of fibre as well as a range of different vitamins and minerals.

Popcorn is a convenient snack food, and when it comes to snacking - the more convenient and less time consuming the better. Popular snacks are those that we can simply unwrap and eat with little time or effort to prepare. This is why popcorn has been given a bad reputation.

Microwave popcorn is the most popular form of this snack. High in unhealthy fats with lots of additives, preservatives and added salt and sugar, convenient, microwave or ready-popped popcorn is not always the best option. Homemade popcorn, air-popped or popped on the stove, allows us full control over how much oil and salt are used and is, in fact, a snack that is high in fibre and low in fat - when made correctly - and helps us fill up far quicker than many other snacks when portions are controlled.

Megan Bosman, a nutritional therapist at Simply Nutrition, weighs in on two of the most popular pick-me-ups and why it's okay to have that second bite and cup.

Chocolate gets a bad rap due to its high sugar content, but few people know that dark chocolate contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid used by the body to produce serotonin - the body’s ‘happy chemical’.

The main ingredient in dark chocolate is cocoa, which is considered a nutrient-rich or 'superfood' food. Cocoa is rich in powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, also commonly found in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. Flavonoids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties which are beneficial to people suffering from conditions related to inflammation in the body such as arthritis, certain types of cancer and heart disease.

Chocolate also contains a variety of minerals, including iron and magnesium and iron is essential for the production of haemoglobin, a component of red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body. Magnesium is important for strong teeth, bones and preventing muscle cramps.

For a long time, people have been warned against the risks of caffeinated drinks - coffee being one of them - because of their effect on cholesterol and heart disease, but before you ban coffee, it's always good to look at the bigger picture and how people are drinking their morning cuppa. Do they add sugar and milk? And, what is the quality of the coffee, since many instant coffees contain harmful ingredients that many are not aware of.

Like everything else, drinking coffee in moderation could actually be beneficial for one's health. The antioxidants in coffee could help prevent cancer, diabetes and even slow down ageing. Choose a good quality coffee with no added chemicals, and if you like yours sweet and milky then try some healthy alternatives such as almond milk and honey.

 Readers are encouraged to consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist regarding any further dietary advice.