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The changing faces of the foods we eat

FoodFacts.com is constantly fascinated by the changing lenses through which particular foods are viewed. Do you remember back in the 90’s when the “no-fat” craze had us turning to completely fat-free products, thinking they were good for us. Did anyone, during that time, stop to think what was replacing the fats in fat-free cheeses or fat-free mayonnaise? Caffeine was frowned upon. And chocolate was really just candy.

It’s amazing what a difference a decade can make! Let’s take a look at a few foods whose bad reputations have turned around.

Eggs
Just a few decades ago, eating whole eggs was considered one of the unhealthiest things you could do. Products like Egg Beaters, and other egg substitutes came to the rescue for egg lovers everywhere. You could order egg white omelets at the diner; you would mix up a turkey meatloaf with egg whites and discard the yolks and angel food cake had a resurgence of popularity because whole eggs were just bad for you. The confusion over eggs stems from their cholesterol content. One large egg contains 213 mg of cholesterol, accounting for two-thirds of the recommended daily limit. When scientists learned that high blood cholesterol was associated with heart disease, foods high in cholesterol logically became suspect. But after 25 years of study, it has become evident that cholesterol in food is not the culprit — saturated fat has a much bigger effect on blood cholesterol. And one egg contains about 1.6 grams of saturated fat. In 2000, the American Heart Association (AHA) revised its dietary guidelines and gave healthy adults the green light to enjoy eggs once again. The AHA’s guidelines now allow an egg a day for healthy adults while still advising a total daily cholesterol limit of 300 mg.

Coffee
Twenty years ago, caffeine was questionable. Is it good for you? Is it bad for you? Coffee houses were becoming increasingly popular and offering up brews of varying caffeination all over. The trend was to try to avoid it. But not so much today. Recently a new study found that coffee may be linked to the prevention of basal cell carcinoma. And it was linked to the caffeine directly, as those drinking decaf coffee did not experience the same decrease in risk as those drinking caffeinated coffee.

Chocolate
While it will never be true that chocolate can be included in any of the major food groups, it’s becoming widely recognized as having important health effects for those who consume it. A few months ago, research out of Great Britain reviewed seven different studies done on the health benefits of chocolate. For heart health, the studies revealed significant benefits for chocolate. It possesses antioxidant, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic and anti-thrombotic effects. It’s certainly not advisable to overdo, but a little chocolate is actually good for you.

Things are always changing. We’re always learning more. And sciences are always advancing. The foods we eat can’t be left out of those statements. So FoodFacts.com will always try to bring out the latest information as things continue to change.

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