5 Foods Deemed Unhealthy that Have Health Benefits

May 25, 2022

Author: Angela Trotter, M.S., CNS, AFMCP, Clinical Functional Nutritionist

There are definitely pros and cons to having information readily available at our fingertips.  I feel this can also correlate with nutrition, where there is a claim and a counterclaim for each and every food. AH! Seriously!? 

Ultimately, finding a nutrition plan that works best for you and meets your personal needs while aiming to incorporate whole well-balanced nutrition, will be a good general guideline to finding an approach that works best for you. As a Clinical Nutritionist, I am mostly working with individuals who are experiencing various symptoms such as GI imbalances, hormonal symptoms, pain, autoimmune disease, etc. 

So, although I will be providing a generalized snippet of information here of foods that are commonly deemed unhealthy, that still contain health benefits, I must provide the caveat that when devising a nutritional plan for an individual there may be specifics for them that do not correlate with any ‘general’ suggestion(s). 

1) Eggs

Eggs can get a bad rap, especially when it comes to cholesterol.  Ultimately, most of the population, 70%, will not experience an increase in cholesterol levels when they consume eggs.  However, there are 30% of the population that are known as ‘hyper-responders’ who may experience an increase in cholesterol with the consumption of eggs.  

Eggs can be quite nutrient-dense, with most of the nutrient value residing within the yolk.  These nutrients include: vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin D, iodine, phosphorus, choline and are a good source of protein and fat.  

Caveat: eggs are a common food sensitivity, and are also a known histamine liberator.  If these issues are playing a role, addressing the cause for underlying imbalance is key.

2) Resistant Starches

Resistant starches are starches that do not get absorbed in the small intestine, rather they travel on to the large intestine where they are fermented by the bacteria in the large intestine, allowing for the production of the important short-chain fatty acids (SCFA).  

SCFAs are shown to support the gut barrier integrity, support mucus production here to protect the gut barrier, reduce inflammation, keep pathogens out and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.  

Furthermore, resistant starches are shown to improve insulin sensitivity and satiety and can play a role in reducing cholesterol levels.  

Common resistant starch foods include: cooked and cooled rice and potatoes, plantains, green bananas, beans, peas, lentils, and starchy vegetables.  

Caveat: there are those with varying GI imbalances who may have a harder time consuming these resistant starches, this is where we slowly heal imbalances and introduce resistant starches as tolerated to rebalance the gut.

3) Salt

Quality matters.  When we consider regular table salt, we know that it has been refined and stripped of its minerals and trace minerals and consists of a higher sodium content when compared to Himalayan pink salt.  Compared to table salt, Himalayan pink salt has its minerals and trace minerals still intact, providing a good source of mineral support with consumption.  

Incorporating Himalayan pink salt into the diet can provide a dietary source of these essential minerals and trace minerals, which plays a role in supporting the adrenal glands since they thrive on a sufficient balance of these essential minerals.  This can further support blood sugar regulation, fluid balance, and can support the sleep-wake cycle.  

Caveat: although shown to support blood pressure when compared to regular table salt, be mindful of any salt-sensitive hypertension.

4) Butter

Specifically, the butter known as Ghee.  Ghee is a great option for those who are dairy intolerant since it does not contain lactose or casein. Ghee is a great option to incorporate due to its high smoke point – meaning you can cook it at a very high temperature and not destroy the important nutrients.  Provides several great fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E, and K.  

Ghee will also contain the short-chain fatty acid, butyrate, which plays a role in supporting the health of the gut barrier function and supports a healthy microbiome for gut healing support.  Ghee also contains conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) which is shown to play a role in reducing inflammation, preventing cancer formation, and playing a role in weight loss.

5) Red Meat

Red meat has definitely had a bad rap throughout the years as the main culprit for increasing risk of disease and inflammation.  That discussion would require a complete breakdown of the evidence provided, and also the varying factors that could play a role in why one may choose to be mindful of red meat consumption.  But from a general viewpoint, there are some nutrients provided in red meat that can be nourishing.  

Red meat is specifically nutrient-dense in the B12, which plays a role in just about every function within the body from aging, neurological disorders, mental health, energy, cardiovascular disease, and infertility.  In addition to B12 red meat will also contain all of the other vital B vitamins.  

Heme iron is also another important nutrient found in red meat that is shown to be more bioavailable and better absorbed than nonheme iron found within plant sources.  Iron is essential for women looking to conceive since it will provide the necessary support for the growth and development of the fetal brain.  Other nutrients include vitamin D and zinc sources.

Quality is always important, aiming for a clean organic 100% grass-fed option is shown to have a more robust nutrient profile, specifically of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega 3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory fatty acids).  

Caveat: various GI imbalances may need to be addressed before some individuals are able to tolerate red meat without GI symptoms. 

Have specific questions about your nutritional needs? Contact Angela Today

Author: Angela Trotter, M.S., CNS, AFMCP, Clinical Functional Nutritionist

*Please Note: The information provided on or through this website or blog is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. Engaging with this material does not constitute a client/therapist relationship*



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