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What's Left to Eat? The Debbie Downer or Negative Ned's Guide to Food

What's Left to Eat? The Debbie Downer or Negative Ned's Guide to Food

updated

Many Americans are committed to choosing healthy, nutritious foods, but their options appear to be very slim. What choices are unanimously considered to be healthy, if any? A quick Internet search for the foods below yields at least one warning about the risks associated with consuming each:

Red Meat

Red meat has a reputation for being unhealthy, so its inclusion on this list may come as no surprise. On his blog, CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta sums up why eating red meat may be hazardous to your health:

"Aside from high fat and cholesterol, eating a lot of red meat has also been associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and higher risks of breast, stomach and colorectal cancers."

Out: Beef, Lamb, Pork, Venison

Processed Meats:

In its recommendations for cancer prevention, the American Institute for Cancer Research very clearly says to "avoid processed meats."

Out: bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, cold cuts

Dairy:

As PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) criticizes the treatment that dairy cows receive, it also warns of the dangers for those who drink their milk:

"While cows suffer in animal factories, humans who drink their milk increase their chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, several types of cancer, and many other ailments."

The Harvard School of Public Health does not say to avoid milk and dairy altogether, but it does raise concerns about their risks:

"While calcium and dairy can lower the risk of osteoporosis and colon cancer, high intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer. Plus, dairy products can be high in saturated fat as well as retinol (vitamin A), which at high levels can paradoxically weaken bones."

Out: Fat Free Milk, Whole Milk, ice cream, cheese, etc.

Refined Grains

Refined grains are routinely criticized for not being as healthy as their whole grain counterparts. A 2007 article on Web MD mentions one reason why:

"Two new studies suggest that eating simple or refined carbohydrates with a high glycemic index -- like white bread and rice -- raise the risk of type 2 diabetes."

Out: White bread, white sandwich buns and rolls, white rice, corn flakes, pretzels, enriched spaghetti and macaroni, etc.

Whole Grains

Even though mainstream nutritional doctrine insists that whole grains are healthy, not all are convinced. Dr. Joseph Mercola, believes that "severely limiting or eliminating all grains - refined, whole, sprouted or otherwise" would improve the health of millions of Americans. The reason? "Nearly everyone with high insulin levels benefits from avoiding grains - yes, even whole grains."

Out: All other grains

Fruits and Vegetables

We've almost entirely ruled out meat, dairy, and grains ( 3 of the 4 food groups from the United State Department of Agriculture's 1956 recommendations). Surely all fruits and vegetables are okay, right? Not so fast...

Dr. Nicolas Perricone considers grapes, bananas, oranges, carrots, peas, corn, and potatoes to be "bad carbohydrates." On his website he says that bad carbohydrates are quickly converted to sugar once inside the body and "cause inflammation on a cellular level."

The Environmental Health Group includes apples, peaches, strawberries, lettuce, celery, and spinach on the "Dirty Dozen," its list of the twelve non-organic fruits and vegetables that are most likely to be contaminated with pesticides.

Out: Many non-organic fruits and vegetables, and many "pro-inflammatory" fruits and vegetables

Are you Still Hungry?

So are there any foods that are safe to eat? Perhaps salmon (but not farm raised!) and nuts (but not peanuts!). It does appear that blueberries and broccoli can be eaten with impunity. But if you are trying to eat healthy by following every single piece of nutritional advice that you read on the Internet, there don't seem to be many foods left for you to choose. Indeed, the "glass half full" approach to food means that your plate will probably also only be half full.

Perhaps Mom's advice to eat everything "in moderation" really is the way to approach mealtimes.

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