When it comes to nutrition, there are lots of opinions about what is and what is not healthy. Many of the opinions are contradicting each other. These opinions can be seen on television, read in books or magazines, heard on the radio or from friends, family, and doctors, and/or even from a random stranger who thinks they know best about what you should be eating. With so many sources about what foods are "healthy" and what foods are not, it is no wonder that the general public is so confused.
Here is a new study that highlights the dangers of a diet high in processed meats, such as hotdogs and even bacon (everyone's favorite). This is not a big splash in the world of nutrition research, but what is interesting about this study is the bigger picture of nutrition. The study finds that diets centered on vegetables, little amounts of processed meats, and moderate-to-small amounts of red meats show improved longevity. Here is the NPR article if you like to read about this study:
So what am I saying here? Never eat hotdogs or bacon again? No. Not at all. But I do suggest a balanced diet focused on vegetables, small-to-moderate amounts of fruits, alternate protein options, such as legumes, an adequate amount of good quality protein, and a good supply of healthy fats. If you want to have processed meats, go for it, but keep this to a minimal food option. Not an everyday, or even every week, food item. Processed meats include items such as: canned hams, hotdogs, pre-packed bacon, deli meats, pre-cooked meats, most jerky, and most sausages. Most of these foods are made from low quality meats. More specifically, meat scrapes of low quality meats. This is where quality matters.
Another hot area of conversation is "should I eat only organic?" Yes and no. There are more and more pieces about the unknown side effects from herbicides and pesticides, which is why organic produce is so popular. There are also more articles looking into the use of GMO produce items. These findings are even more contradicting than the debate surrounding processed meats. If the cost is going to reduce the amount of vegetables you eat, then chose the best priced items. Don't skip out on vegetables because they are out of your price range.
I recommend that when it comes to reading through advice on nutrition; don't get caught in the extremes. These opinions are typically too one-sided and not sound advice for everyone. Look for similarities with foods that are recommended. You will begin to notice a few themes that are consistent. This will help you to easily recognize silly advice so you know what to avoid.
This is why eating the right food, but also eating high quality food matters. At the end of the day, I suggest purchasing the best quality you can afford. Think of quality foods as your medicine. If you are eating a diet based on variety and good quality ingredients, then you have a higher likelihood of taking in the nutrients your body needs in order to promote good health. Spend your money on good quality food and you will in turn spend less money of medications.