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Four "Evil" Foods That Aren't

Foods are either virtuous or evil, we're told. It seems nowadays every sip or morsel we consume comes with either a side order of sanctimony or a dollop of remorse.

well, actually, some foods are just foods. Neither good nor bad, and certainly not worth freaking out about.

Here are some examples-

Butter- Butter contains saturated fat, which is bad right? If you still believe that fat is the root of all evil, let me direct you to a couple of great resources.

Diet delusion by Gary Taubes is a fantastic book which details the real history behind the demonisation of saturated fat and why it's amounted to a fifty year wild goose chase. I'd also recommend you have a poke around Dr John Briffa's website.


Coffee- I admit I could be a victim of confirmation bias on this one. The fact that I am in a long-term romantic relationship with coffee both as a lifestyle choice and as an abstract concept, means I may simply be looking for information that supports my position while disregarding research that contradicts it. I admit I might be the caffeine equivalent of a creationist or climate change denier, I just love the black stuff more than I love scientific rigour. Deal with it.

Anyway, the truth is there is no research that I'm aware of showing moderate caffeine consumption has negative effects on health or longevity. In fact some research suggests coffee drinkers live longer. Now this may be correlation rather than causation. Perhaps coffee drinkers are more affluent, eat more green vegetables, have greater social support networks and are sexy, guitar playing Irish guys. I know one of them is anyway, that's for damn sure.

(Yep. Thats me right there rocking the shit. The bald old guy is my dad.)

Salt- worrying about salt is like training on a powerplate-a totally futile exercise. Provided you're avoiding processed food for the most part (which you should be doing anyway) and using good quality salt (just like you should be eating good quality meat, veg and whatever the hell else you fancy), its simply not worth worrying about. Get yourself some Malden's sea salt and season away.

Worry about the big rocks (food quality and macronutrients) and the pebbles take care of them selves.

Red meat- we're back to correlation versus causation. Population studies linking red meat to cancer don't take into account the quality of the meat being consumed. There's a huge difference between a frankfurter and a slab of grass fed organic beef.

I don't think red meat should necessarily be consumed every day of the week, it's beneficial to rotate between different sources. It's preferable to spend a little more on top quality food and eat it less frequently as opposed to eating cheap, supermarket meat every day. But in principle red meat is perfectly healthy.

So in summary, stop freaking out about stuff that doesn't warrant your attention. Buy the best quality foods you can afford and stick to the golden rule; if it grew in the ground or once had a face, eat away.


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