Eating a healthy diet can seem complicated. Multiple food companies will try to entice you to buy their products by labelling them ‘fortified with vitamins’ or ‘heart healthy’ and so on. Actually it’s simple, fresh food has all the nutrients you need unless you suffer from a specific nutrient deficiency and require supplements.

In the 1950s saturated fat was (incorrectly) identified as the cause of heart disease and from the late 1970s various governments recommended that we eat so little of it that we had to replace lost calories from other sources. As people turned to man made foods peoples’ health actually got worse and not better.

There are a lot of food myths and misunderstandings about specific nutrients and this blog will try to put a few things straight.

Saturated fats are not bad for you

  • Saturated fats provide energy and are essential for brain function
  • They help with the growth and repair of your body
  • Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble so we need to eat fat to absorb them properly

Eating some saturated fat is beneficial but this doesn’t mean I am recommending binging on it. As with all food it is the quality of it that counts so stay away from fake foods and opt for real, fresh, local sources.

Cholesterol is a good thing

  • Cholesterol is regulated by your body and the food you eat has very little impact on total levels
  • It aids cell growth and is a precursor for many hormones
  • It is vital for normal brain function, learning and memory
  • We need Cholesterol so that our skin can synthesise Vitamin D when it’s sunny

Simple advice

The best bit of food advice I know of comes from Michael Pollan, an excellent food author and journalist.

“if you go to a supermarket then shop around the edges (i.e. stay near fresh dairy, meat, fish, fruit and veg) and away from the middle aisles packed with fake foods like cakes, biscuits and ready meals”

This is simple yet effective. Stay away from processed foods and instead choose fresh food.

  • Avoid processed foods (especially refined carbohydrates)
  • Eat locally produced, fresh food

Eating well is an important part of improving your health. If you can combine this with intelligent recovery strategies and regular exercise then you will be on the right path to achieve your fitness goals.

Part 2…

In my next blog about Food Myths and Diet Advice I’ll talk about which nutrient is in fact the one that I think should be avoided the most. To give you a hint here is an excellent quote from Zoë Harcombe’s book The Obesity Epidemic:

“If we have been eating real food for 24 hours, agriculture gave us large scale access to carbohydrates four minutes ago and sugar consumption has increased twenty fold in the past five seconds. I wonder which food is more likely to be responsible for the obesity epidemic or any modern disease…”