The discussion on healthy food or rather unhealthy food is never-ending. There are many dimensions to this discussion. So, is home cooked food healthy? Or is clean, hygienic food, healthy? Or is food low in calories, low on sugar or low on fat healthy? Should we go ‘organic’ or should we take the ‘GMO-free’ route? Sure enough, different people have different takes on what is “healthy”. To understand this better, we need to understand what ‘healthy food’ means.
I would say ‘A food’ that contributes positively towards the physical and mental well-being of an individual is healthy food. In most cases, we cannot take up the topic of ‘healthy food’ in isolation. It is highly intertwined with one’s lifestyle and an individual’s medical condition and needs. There is no universal ‘mantra’ for eating healthy.
Fruits and vegetables are in general very healthy and if you include a variety of them in your diet you would most likely get your daily requirement of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrate, dietary fibres and believe it or not protein. However, one may argue, what if it is Genetically Modified or if it is laden with chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Is it still healthy? If we cook our food don’t we lose a lot of these nutrients?
Let’s examine meat, poultry, game and seafood in our diet. They are an excellent source of protein and iron. They also provide essential amino acids and essential fatty acids. Seafood is a good source of vitamin A & D, Omega 3 & 6 and a host of minerals. The scientific community has long suspected that the inclusion of fish in the early human diet significantly contributed to the development of the human brain. But we cannot ignore the fact that seafood may have abnormally high concentrations of chemical toxins and heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead. This is due to the dumping of industrial wastes into our rivers and oceans. FDA recommends limiting the intake of fish high on the food chain, such as sharks and mackerels, to 2 serving a week.
Red meat and animal fat have significantly high cholesterol and may lead to a build-up of high uric acid levels in the body.
So, what really is unhealthy? I feel no food is unhealthy on its own if had in moderation and a variety of it is included in a person’s diet. It is the combination of lifestyle, food habits and ignorance, which makes food unhealthy.