Healthy, if I search for a true definition of Healthy food, it simply means food promoting good health. But my curiosity led me on another quest of, what food is really good food? According to health experts and consumers the most basic answer is “whole foods” for example fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, fish, avocados, nuts etc. And for packaged foods I think the easiest definition is wholesome food with proper proportion. But in reality they are targetting just the trend markers of that time (either low fat or high protein or “no sugar added” etc.).
I feel we really need a simple definition to understand the meaning of ‘healthy food’. Really need a basic simple guideline because rigid guidelines can create more complications than it solves. When low fat trend was on peak, market was loaded with low fat snacks, cookies, cakes produced by various commercial food brands. These food products could be called “healthy” because they met the basic guidelines but the truth is they were not healthy at all. They were loaded with sugar, artificial colors, preservatives, dyes etc. Such foods in the “low-fat era” led to increasing rate of obesity. Now a days high protein is another new buzz in town among the general population. And the outcome of this buzz, market is again loaded with protein packaged foods, snack bars. But these aren’t a source of complete proteins. For a protein to be called as complete, it should comprise of all the nine essential amino acids (histidine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, lysine, threonine, phenylalanine, valine and isoleucine). Glad that FDA has started mandating rules and guidelines for companies to endorse the word healthy on their packaging. But even FDA has to revisit its guidelines quite often.
I feel the real answer to “What is healthy food”, lies not with the “what” but really with “which” and “how much”. The right amount of food component eaten in the right proportion simply means healthy food. Who says Fats are not good? Fats are equally good and important for your body as much as proteins or any other food groups are. The real answer lies behind the proportion of fat in your daily consumption. There are some “good fats” like HDL (high density lipoprotein which are present in fatty fish, coconut oil, olive oil etc.) and some are “bad” like cholesterol, trans fats, triglycerides, LDL (low density lipoproteins). (P.S.: More on Fats in one of my upcoming article)
About Proteins we should prefer complete proteins such as fish, eggs, quinoa, poultry etc. But again, portion is key to healthy intake of protein. It isn’t a case of more the merrier. Excessive intake of protein does have serious side effects on your body (Diarrhea, Dehydration, Kidney damage, heart diseases and is even cancer causing etc). Food companies need to rethink about consequences on health of general public and most importantly we as a consumer should also read the nutrition labels, understand complete information and be very careful while choosing the food products before it goes in to our grocery cart. Remeber right proportion of the right food group is the key to healthy eating. More to be discussed on this topic in my upcoming articles. Stay tuned!
Eat Healthy, Stay Healthy & Keep Smiling! 😊
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