You think you’re doing a good job taking care of your health, then all of a sudden, science tells you the thing you thought was beneficial actually isn’t. Like when agave sweeteners were pushed as a healthy alternative for sugar, until they were found to be higher in calories and no less likely to cause insulin resistance. Fortunately, the reverse can be true and habits once considered “bad” are found to be helpful instead.
Doctors say these habits have gotten a bad rap over the years, but they’re actually pretty good for you:
- Skipping meals - We grew up being taught we need three square meals a day to be healthy, but now fasting is trendy, so is it good for us? Dr. K. Mitchell Naficy, a family physician, says yes, there are benefits to eating less frequently. He explains that intermittent fasting has been linked to health benefits including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity and improved energy levels.
- Eating red meat - While many health experts recommend a mostly plant-based diet, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kellie K. Middleton says, “Eating red meat occasionally can also be beneficial for your health.” But moderation is the key. The iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and selenium found in red meat help our bodies function properly, she explains, but it’s also high in saturated fat and cholesterol, so only having it occasionally is best.
- Drinking coffee - The caffeine in our beloved buzzy beverage can disrupt sleep and raise blood pressure, according to Dr. Naficy, but coffee is also full of antioxidants that have benefits when consumed in moderation, including increased energy, and improved alertness and mood.
- Eating high-fat foods - All high fat foods were once seen as incredibly unhealthy and we swapped them for low-fat options, but today we know not all fats are created equal. Dr. Shana Johnson, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, says, “You need healthy (unsaturated) fats and lots of them!” So enjoy those avocados, nuts and seeds guilt-free.
- Eating chocolate - Dark chocolate made with 70% or more cocoa is a good way to satisfy your sweet tooth, according to bariatric surgeon Dr. Gabriela Rodriguez, because it contains antioxidants that are linked to improved heart health and reduced inflammation. Dark chocolate is also high in magnesium, iron, copper, zinc and potassium, which are good for our overall health, too.