What’s a No-No Now? Re-Thinking Food Taboos
Mar 22, 2017 02:00PM ● Published by Becca Newell
When a decision is reached to begin a weight-loss or healthy eating regimen, there are certain food groups, like carbs, that are immediately eliminated from one’s diet because they’re deemed “bad.” While this is inherently true—unfortunately, it’s near impossible to eat three doughnuts a day and still drop a dress size—it’s important to distinguish the good foods from the not-so-good.
Sometimes a complete diet overhaul is in order; other times, it’s more a case of moderating certain food groups already in your every-day eating plan. Either way, we’ve found that a little of the “bad” can do a whole lot of good.
Daily Dietary Guidelines for AmericansPublished by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Added sugarsLess than 10% of calories
Saturated fatsLess than 10% of calories
SodiumLess than 2,300mg
AlcoholUp to 1 drink for women; up to 2 drinks for men
CaffeineBetween three to five 8oz servings (up to 400 milligrams)
CarbohydratesCompletely eliminating complex carbohydrates from your diet isn’t necessarily harmful—especially if adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed—but it may result in a lack of essential fibers, vitamins, and minerals. These starches, found in grains, beans, root vegetables, and whole grain pasta and bread, are good sources of energy and contain calcium, iron, and B vitamins. Fiber is vital in keeping bowels healthy and it also helps create the feeling of being full, which subsequently results in consuming less food—perfect for watching that waistline! Additionally, some fibers, like those in apples, sweet potatoes, and oats, have been shown to help reduce blood cholesterol. Complex carbs are not to be confused with the refined starches in white bread, white pasta, white rice, and other processed foods that contain little to no fiber and other nutrients.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for carbohydrates, established by the Institute of Medicine, is 130 grams per day, which provides enough glucose to the brain for proper function.
Fat (and Cholesterol)Unsaturated fats, like monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats, are considered to be part of a heart-healthy diet; saturated and trans fats are not. The latter are found in items that aren’t exactly diet-friendly, like baked goods, pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, and fried chicken, so eliminating these types of food certainly isn’t unhealthy. Research suggests MUFA-rich fare, like olive oil, almonds, cashews, avocados, and olives, may help to lower your risk of heart disease, meaning the aforementioned items are shopping list staples. Additionally, some research suggests MUFAs may improve blood vessel function and aid in blood sugar control. However, any type of fat is typically high in calories, so be sure to include even the “good kind” as part of a well-balanced diet.
In its 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the government suggested limiting dietary cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams—or about two eggs—per day. This recommendation was removed from the most recent guidelines, since some studies suggest little correlation between heart disease and one’s dietary cholesterol intake. Still, the 2015 guidelines propose a healthy eating pattern with restricted dietary cholesterol.
Women should consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day and men should consume no more than nine teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association.