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The three foods that may not be as bad for you as you thought

Nutrition trends come and go, and different foods are demonized every day. But, foods that were seen as bad or unhealthy 10 years ago are making a comeback, and foods we grew up with as kids have become nutritional no-nos. Registered Dietician Abbey Sharp is here to set the record straight with the current research and discuss the redeaming qualities of these so-called “bad foods."

FULL FAT MILK

It's commonly assumed that low fat is always best and fat free is the way to go, especially with something like dairy which is a source of saturated fat which was always assumed to cause heart disease. But now a lot of that research is being questioned especially because we now know that there are different types of saturated fats (Conjugated linoleic acid and butyric acid) and it just so happens that some of the ones in milk have some potential health benefits.

There's a lot of research that suggests that drinking dairy milk, especially whole milk, reduces the risk of obesity and especially that stubborn belly fat. One study found that women who drank one serving of whole milk each day were 15% less likely to gain weight than women who had low fat milk.

What to choose: Go for full fat grass fed milk, which is higher in heart healthy omega 3s. The more fat in the milk, the more omega 3s so this is another reason to go full fat.

BEEF

There’s no doubt that we need to be eating more plant based foods in our diet, but lean cuts of beef can also be a great source of iron, b vitamins, zinc, selenium and protein.

One study found that beef eaters had higher intakes of a wide range of vitamins and protein, and lower intakes of fat and carbs. While its true that highly processed meats have been linked to heart disease and diabetes, unprocessed lean cuts of beef can definitely have a place in our diet.

What to choose: The key to reaping all of the benefits of beef really comes down to the cut and preparation. When you're at the store, look for the “round” or “loin” and you’ll usually find a leaner cut.

I also recommend looking for grass fed beef whenever possible because it's higher in omega 3s and has higher amounts of antioxidants.

Finally, when it comes to cooking beef, you’ll want to avoid charring it. I love braising tougher cuts, or adding them to stews so you avoid the carcinogens that form when you over-expose meat to fire.

PEANUT BUTTER

Full fat peanut butter gets labeled as a bit of a junk food, probably because it’s seen as a safe “kid food” and because it’s mainly fat, but we now know that not all fats are created equal and the fat in peanut butter is actually really good for you.

Peanut butter is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, which are known to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides, which reduces the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes

It's also rich in protein and fibre, both of which help keep us fuller longer.  Peanut butter can actually be a great snack for people who are trying to watch their weight. In fact, I know peanut butter gets a reputation as the junky nut butter compared with like almond butter, but peanuts actually contain highest amounts of protein per serving among nuts and seeds with 2 tbsp of peanut butter providing 7 grams of protein.

What to choose: The key is quality. You want to go for a natural peanut butter instead of the typical processed variety because the processed versions tend to have more salt, sugar, and even trans fats in the form of hydrogenated oil. Ideally your PB should just be peanuts.

You also want to go for the full fat one, not the light or low fat version because when food manufacturers remove fat, they tend to add more sugar and salt to compensate. I would much rather you have those satiating heart healthy fats than more sugar and salt.