Over the years, some healthful foods have gotten a bad rap for one reason or another.
Sometimes it's because of one bit of research on one compound of the food in question. Other times, it might be because the new fad diet has banned them from your plate. All in all, these foods continue to emerge as healthful options in the correct context.
Let's look at a few:
Peanut butter: Peanut butter is high in fat but that doesn't mean it's not good for you. Because gaining or losing weight, as well as body fat, basically comes down to balancing calories. That said, peanut butter is a concentrated source of calories, so you don't want to go overboard. But you don't need to eat tons to feel satisfied: a tablespoon (90 calories) of peanut butter goes a long way.
Eggs: Remember when you were told that eating eggs was going to lead to high cholesterol, and heart disease? Pump the brakes. Medical experts now emphasize that saturated fats and trans fats are bigger culprits in raising blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol. Plus, eggs are a hunger stopper. In one study, people who ate a scrambled-egg-and-toast breakfast felt more satisfied, and ate less at lunch, than they did when they ate a bagel that had the same number of calories.
Beef: Another food thought to be a risky food for heart health. Lean cuts of beef, especially the grass-fed variety, are a low-fat source of protein and iron, which is essential for getting oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout the body. Many women are deficient in iron. There are numerous cuts of beef to select, If you can't remember the names, pick steaks that are deep red with a relatively small amount of marbling — a fancy name for fat — to find lean cuts.
Coffee: The belief was that coffee would make you super-jittery, mess with your sleep, and just be not good for you. Hands off my java! Studies show that compounds in coffee, including but not limited to caffeine, might reduce the risk of dementia, diabetes and liver cancer. These benefits were associated with drinking two to four (8-ounce) cups a day. That said, some people are more caffeine sensitive, and if this is true for you, you should cut back. You should also limit caffeine if you're pregnant — no more than two cups a day while expecting or nursing.
These foods and others are making a comeback because of great research in recent years. Enjoy them as part of a sound nutrition plan, and you'll reap the benefits of the body boosts they provide.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Go to www.hometeamfitness.net for more information.