It used to be so simple: high fat foods + you = weight gain. But now everyone from Harvard Medical School professors to the next-gen wellness lot like Hemsley + Hemsley and Delicious Ella are coaxing us away from ‘skinny’ versions and back to basics.But it’s tricky to unlearn ‘fat is bad’ tales that have been dished up to you since you were old enough to reach for the butter. Which is why we’ve tapped up nutritionist Rick Hay, AKA The Super Foodist, to dispel folklore around foods that are naturally charged up with good fats but have been stuck with a bad rep in the past.
Spoiler alert: includes potato.
Yes. You can eat potatoes. So now that we have your attention, let’s begin.
The big fat scare of the 70s resulted in a steady climb of margarine and spreads as an alternative toast topping in the British diet. But new research indicates that butter is actually more heart-healthy than the trans fats found in alternative spreads. “Last year was the time when we started to realise that what we thought about butter wasn’t true,” says Rick. “A little bit of the yellow stuff is no bad thing at all.”
Now the darling of the food scene that has whole restaurants dedicated to it and appears on every brunch menu possible, it hasn’t always been so rosy for the humble hen’s egg. In the late 80s, then Junior Health Minister Edwina Currie (incorrectly) told the public in an ITN interview that “Most of the egg production in this country sadly is now infected with salmonella.” Egg sales dropped 60 per cent overnight. There was then a general hoo-ha over the volume of cholesterol in the sunshine orange yolks. But now? “There is so much goodness in the yolks,” says Rick. “And with their high protein content, they’re perfect for breakfast. Just make sure you go for free range.”
3. Nut butter
Once upon a time, a health-obsessed foodie would have run away from a spoonful of peanut butter faster than Russell Brand escaping a hair brush. Nowadays, your office gym bunny probably makes a habit of pairing a scoop of the crunchy stuff with a cracker for their mid afternoon snack. “This is all part of the fat scare thing,” comments Rick. “Nuts were demonised. But they’re full of essential fatty acids that help with hair, skin and nails, as well as being high in protein and fibre. From almonds to cashew versions, they make a great snack with some banana or apple.”
4. Frozen veg
Frozen veg has always been regarded as a poor substitute for the real deal. But people are now waking up to the joy of the freezer. “A lot of our fresh fruit has been flown halfway around the world,” Rick says. “But local stuff that’s been frozen close to source is packed with preserved goodness, with studies revealing that some fruit and veg hold on to more compounds like vitamin C and beta-carotene when they’re put on ice soon after harvest, rather than getting locked in the supply chain. Frozen berries are especially good to pick up.”
Well no, not a family bar of Dairy Milk Oreo, naturally. But the properly dark stuff – we’re talking 70 per cent cocoa or higher – now features on the list of foods that are supercharged with antioxidants. “Have some good quality dark chocolate when you need a choc fix,” sas Rick. “It may help to increase serotonin levels.”
POTATO! For so long, dear friend, you sat, maligned, alone, abandoned in the carby wilderness. But now, the benefits of our classic rooty chum are coming to glorious light. “The sweet potato is great, of course,” Rick says. “But the white version is a source of vitamin C, and the starch can help keep you full. Just go for steamed or baked, not chips, obviously.”