Trying to keep up with health warning and suggestions is a frustrating pursuit. Not only is there more information on the Internet than anyone can possibly sort through, but it seems like the "rules" keep changing. I joke with Betty that if we wait long enough, I'll be able to start smoking again … for my health.
I thought it would be fun to prove the point by looking at recent studies that seem to contradict earlier reports. Of course, the more we learn the more we know. But, doesn't it seem as though we can never find something that is true and stays that way? Here are just some of the recent reversals in what we thought was true:
Eggs are bad for us: Yes, and no. A couple of fried eggs for breakfast every morning remains a major health risk. All that extra cholesterol is not good for your heart. But, for most folks, an egg a day is not a problem. They are so low in saturated fat and have no trans fat, the minimal spike in cholesterol isn't a problem.
Calories eaten close to bedtime are worse than calories during the day. We have all heard the theory that food consumed too close to bedtime is bad. Your body doesn't have time to process the food before you fall asleep so all those extra calories become fat. Doctors say that simply isn't true. A calorie is a calorie regardless of when you ingest it. Maybe eating closer to bed time will make it harder for you to fall asleep, but 100 calories at 8 p.m. is the same as 100 calories at 8 a.m.
Eating smaller meals throughout the day is better than the standard three-meal approach. That may be true for some reasons, like maintaining level blood sugar, but it is not true in terms of weight loss. Yes, your metabolism cranks up a bit each time you eat. But, the amount for a small, mini-meal isn't enough to be significant. Forcing yourself to prepare six meals a day tends to end up with more snacks and processed foods being eaten because they are quicker to prepare.
Coffee is bad for you. Past research has indicated that the effects of the caffeine can raise your blood pressure. There are some studies that say pregnant women should limit caffeine intake due to possible effects on fetus development. But, recent studies have painted a picture that is much more favorable. Coffee drinking may drastically reduce chances of developing type 2 diabetes. There are findings that point toward a major impact on preventing colorectal cancer, liver cancer and even Parkinson's disease in men.
Chocolate causes acne and is empty calories. New research is showing chocolate to be a tremendous positive for several parts of our body. Studies have shown clear heart benefits from better blood flow and improved bad cholesterol numbers. Dark chocolate has shown the ability to reduce high blood pressure. It seems to improve skin quality, increase blood flow to the brain, and allow your muscles to recover faster after a workout.
Wine is a no … too many empty calories and too much alcohol. In moderation this seems to no longer be true. Consumed in appropriate quantities wine has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. It has proven to raise your good cholesterol levels. Wine may even slow the progression of disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. The key is to not overindulge or the health benefits are lost and damage can occur. So, how much is right? For men, the current guideline is not more than two 5-ounce servings a day of red or white wine. For women, cut that amount in half.
I found all sorts of other supposedly "bad" food that can be beneficial: vegetarian pizza, beef jerky, ice cream, butter, peanut butter, even pork rinds (loaded with protein and less fat than potato chips). The key is always moderation and balance.
My goal isn't to get you to abandon your low-fat, vegetable and fruit-based diet or pork rinds and chocolate. Rather, it is to remind us that "rules" are constantly changing. Health is a moving target that requires us to keep up to date and not assume the way we have always lived is our best choice.
That being said, it is time for my afternoon glass of red wine.