So you pride yourself on buying only organic, and wouldn’t touch processed foods with a ten-foot pole—great start! But here’s the reality: there are still some gaping holes in your healthy eating philosophy (not to be Debbie Downers). Knowing this, we asked health coach, certified nutritionist, and knower of all things healthy living-related, Kelly Leveque to school us on the eating mistakes even the healthiest of people make. Keep scrolling to see them all (and feel free to forward to your healthier-than-thou your coworker won’t stop Instagramming her daily acai bowls).
When you go to weekend brunch, you pride yourself on always paying an extra dollar for only egg whites. News flash: that’s not necessarily doing your body any favors. Egg yolks got a bad rap in the ‘80s when research came out claiming saturated fat caused heart disease—however, that research has since been disproved. “Saturated fat is simply metabolized into carbon dioxide and water without a byproduct, and is a clean source of fuel,” Leveque explains. “That being said, egg yolk is an unstoppable source of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. It provides 100% of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins a, d, e, and k, along with zin, b6, b12, phosphorous, calcium, and folate.”
Yolks also get a bad reputation for their association with high cholesterol. But, recent research has shown that modest egg consumption (up to one a day) does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can be a part of a healthy diet. “I would opt for the yolk over the white every time!” Leveque says. A bold claim, perhaps, but one we’ll happily keep in mind as we order our California omelette.
Ready for some not so sweet news? Your habit of choosing natural sweeteners isn’t really as healthy as you think it is. Leveque calls out agave in particular, saying, “It’s the closest sweetener to high fructose corn syrup—agave it 90% fructose!” She explains that fructose is basically 100% metabolized by the liver, and turns to fat 20-30% faster than glucose. “Fructose also undergoes something called the Maillard reaction, which leads to the formation of superoxide free radicals…that can result in liver inflammation,” she warns. Some long-term effects of excess fructose consumption? Insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and obesity, to name a few. “Always check labels,” she says. “It’s in more ‘healthy’ foods than you might think.”
Soy has had its ups and downs, but with foods like tofu generally being touted as wholesome, it still tends to land in the health food camp. Not so fast, though—according to Leveque, soy is definitely not a health food. “Eating as little as 30 grams (about four tablespoons) of soy per day can result in hypothyroidism, with symptoms of lethargy, constipation, weight gain, and fatigue,” she says. “Soy isoflavones are phyto-endocrine disrupters; at dietary levels, the phytoestrogens present can prevent ovulation and stimulate the growth of cancer cells.” And if that’s not enough to make you rethink your soy latte habit, Leveque says that the vitamin B12 in soy—supposedly one of its health benefits—isn’t easily absorbed and can actually increase your body’s requirement for B12.
You might think you’re making the healthier choice by opting for brown rice in your burrito bowl, but you’re forgetting one key thing: arsenic. Leveque reminds us that the latest Consumer Report reconfirmed the 2012 finding of arsenic present in 60 varieties of rice, by retesting an additional 128 samples at the end of last year. “Arsenic accumulates in the outer layers, which are removed to make white rice,” she explains. “Thus, brown rice contains 80% more arsenic than white varities.” Arsenic in rice isn’t regulated by the FDA, and has been linked to an increased risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer.
If you are eating rice, know this: white Basmati rice from California and sushi rice have 38% less than white rice from Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, Leveque says. “Alternative grains to rice, such as amaranth, millet, and quinoa all have significantly less inorganic arsenic than rice,” Leveque says. Definitely food for thought.
Acai bowls are the new juicing. Except, like juicing, they actually contain a ton of sugar—60 grams of sugar, to be exact (and this doesn’t include toppings). “These type of bowls dis-regular blood sugar, surge your insulin, and promote fat storage,” Leveque says. “It’s just too much sugar in one sitting. Acai on its own is high and fiber and antioxidants, but to enjoy the benefits, consider making this type of bowl at home in appropriate servings instead.” Sigh. Looks like we’ll be saving up for a blender soon…
Were you surprised by any of these healthy eating mistakes? Are you guilty of any of them? Sound off below!