How to Eat Healthy: Distinguishing Between Good and Bad Foods

Are you tired of having someone tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat?

Meat is full of hormones, veggies are packed with an unhealthy dose of pesticides, and people are getting sicker and weaker. How are we supposed to eat healthily?

With so much confusing information out there, many consider going on a photosynthesis diet…

But is there anything that’s actually healthy?

In this article, we’ll list the most unhealthy foods, and debunk a few popular food myths and diet fads

Based on the included research and analysis, you’ll gain the knowledge on which foods to focus on for your diet.


Do You Know What Harmful Chemicals They Put in Your Food?

Chemicals in Food

Let’s start with a popular myth… that may turn out to be true.

According to popular belief, most of the food we eat contains a ton of unhealthy additives and contaminants. If you don’t recognize it on the food label, it’s definitely a harmful chemical that shouldn’t be there.

The truth is everything we eat is composed of all sorts of chemical elements. Most have hard-to-pronounce names, even those we consider “natural”. Take a look at the image below. These are the ingredients of an all-natural banana. Note all the Es there. Most of them stand for some really hard to spell chemical elements that are shortened to a single letter and a few numbers.Banana Nutrition Label

How Can You Determine Which Foods Are Dangerous?

Part of the problem deciphering all the long and scary looking words we see on the food label is the lack of education. We’re not taught about nutrition and healthy eating in high school.

So when we see something we don’t recognize, we simply assume it to be dangerous. It’s a survival strategy ingrained in almost every mammal. “Curiosity killed the cat” – you better avoid things that are not familiar or you may end up regretting your choice. Some 10,000 years ago eating a berry you don’t recognize may have meant your genes won't make it past breakfast.

The purpose of this article is to provide general education about some of the potentially harmful compounds in foods and evaluate the risks.

Lucky for us, the food industry is very well regulated in most developed countries. There are a countless number of requirements and tests before any product makes it to the store. However, that’s far from a perfect process as we’ll uncover in the next paragraphs.

How Much Control Does the Food Industry Have Over the Quality of Our Food?

Disgusting Banana Hot Dog

If we forget about all the conspiracy theories for a second, many of the food industry giants have a huge (financial) incentive to sell food that doesn’t kill us. You can’t sell to dead people after all.

That being said, most of the food additives are well-tested. The goal of this article is to list only substances that have been proven to pose health risks. For this reason, we’ll not discuss things like preservatives, food dyes or artificial flavoring agents. Even if we consume any of these substances in large quantities the risk is almost negligible [1].

However, there are other substances (discussed below) that can have a negative impact on our health and well-being.

Note: the overall caloric intake and exercise have equally, if not greater, impact on our health. It’s not all about quality, but the quantity as well.

Now it’s time to review and evaluate the most popular food myths about healthy eating:

#1 Do You Really Need to Eat Fruits and Veggies to Be Healthy?

Cup of Healthy Strawberries

Probably the only food group that almost everyone will agree is crucial for human health and longevity. However, are there any risks?

Nearly ⅓ of GI tract problems are related to our diet, more specifically the consumption of raw plant products. For example, many people may experience discomfort after consuming certain amounts of fructose or other fruit sugars [2] [3].

This makes sense when you consider the following:

  1. In an evolutionary sense, a lot of plants don’t benefit if they are eaten by humans.
  2. Nature doesn’t look after us. In fact, we’ve adapted to cope with whatever she throws at us… and our adaptation is far from perfect or complete.
  3. Random genetic mutations and the existing genetic variation make some people better suited, and others poorly adapted, to consume certain types of food

❌ Cons:

All plant-based products contain elements we cannot absorb completely, can have a certain negative effect on our well-being or can be outright detrimental to our health. The so-called “slow carbs” are not always so harmless.

✔ Pros:

Truth be told, all food contains some poison. Apples contain cyanide, and broccoli has arsenic. Two highly toxic chemical elements.

Most fruits and veggies contain at least one type of “poison”, but those amounts are so little, that their effect on human health is… well, they have no negative effect at all. The dose makes the poison. Unless you consume 25lbs of fruits a day, there’s nothing to worry about.

Most fruits and vegetables are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Regular consumption of fresh plant products is key for good health. Even high amounts of a few pounds a day are generally considered safe [4].

Not to mention, veggies are so filling that they are an ideal option for weight loss.

⚠ The Verdict:

There’s a huge individual variability when it comes to what your body can tolerate. Some people simply can’t handle some fruits or veggies.

No matter how healthy it is to eat an apple a day, there will always be that one person that goes through extreme discomfort after eating just a single one. If you’re that individual, it’s a good idea to make adjustments to your diet.

With enough trial and error, you’ll learn what and how much of it you should be eating. Listen to your body first. Don’t blindly follow what research suggests and general wisdom dictates.

#2 Does Eating Meat Increase Your Cancer Risk?

Processed Meat - Salami

With the rise of fast food chains and industrial meat production, it’s no secret the quality of meat products has decreased.

However, is meat really dangerous and cancerogenic as some people will have us believe? Here are a few points to consider:

  • Nitrates and nitrites are often added to processed meat (but almost never raw cuts). This helps extend their shelf life and preserve their “fresh” look.

However, those additives can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease [5] and cancer.

  • When fat from the meat is exposed to high temperatures it can form polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) or heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs). Both pose risk to human health and are considered toxic and carcinogenic.

PAHs form when fat drippings fall onto a heated surface [6]. This usually happens during grilling and barbecuing. However, the risk can be reduced if the amount of fat drippings is minimized, and you don’t let the meat charcoal or darken too much.

❌ Cons:

Regular consumption of processed meat (grill, barbecue, cured meats, salami, sausages, etc) can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

✔ Pros:

Excluding excessive grilling and barbecuing and provided you buy and prepare the meat yourself, there’s almost no risk for your health. Meat is highly nutritious, a great source of protein, several vital vitamins, and minerals.

Even hosting a barbecue feast every now and then won’t do much damage to your body. Few people survive solely on grilled meats and sausages.

Compared to smoking or frequent alcohol consumption, treating yourself to a juicy burger may be worth the 2 minutes that it will take away from your life expectancy.

#3 Do Hormones in Meat Pose Any Health Hazards?

First off, let’s make sure we got our facts right. All meat contains hormones. In fact, there are hormones in your salad as well.

So what are hormones? They are chemical messengers that regulate major bodily functions. Both plants and animals produce hormones. This means almost all the food we consume contains hormones. For example, potatoes contain estrogen. There’s no such thing as a hormone-free meat.

Should You Be Worried about Growth Hormones in Beef and Milk?

  1. Most plant and animal hormones have no effect on humans. For example, the bovine growth hormone (bGH) is not biologically active in humans.
  2. Most hormones are broken down and rendered inactive during cooking or by the gastric acids.
  3. The amount of hormones we ingest with our food is very small, our bodies produce a lot more.
  4. The difference between hormone-treated beef and hormone-free animals is so small, it’s practically insignificant.

A lot of plant products most people agree are healthy and perfectly safe, contain more than 100 times more of certain hormones than red meat.

Bottom line: there’s a reason why bodybuilders inject huge amounts of hormones. It’s just that hard to get enough of them to observe any effects on the human body.

To learn more about hormones in milk, check out this article. Note that most of the takeaways apply to meat as well:

Even, if you consume conventionally produced meat products, there’s not much to worry about. Not to mention the industry is heavily regulated and consumer health is a top priority [7].

#4 What Is GMO and Is It Bad for You?

GMO Plant

Note: the GMO topic was included mostly for ethical and not health reasons.

It may come to you as a shock but…. everything is GMO (genetically modified organism). Almost nothing we eat nowadays is in the form and shape it was some 10,000 years ago. Some of the most popular fruits and veggies, like apples and broccoli, were “created” by humans recently.

Even your dog is GMO… unless you actually own a pet wolf. Most of the food we eat was not only modified but is also not native to our land. Half of the exotic items in the store are something your parents, and countless generations back in your family tree, never tasted.

Selective Breeding and GMO Over the Years

Be it selective breeding or making changes directly to the DNA of an organism in a lab environment – the outcome is very similar.

One key difference is that GMO allows scientists to select only desirable traits from more than one organism. With selective breeding the number of likely outcomes is very limited, requires more time, and undesirable traits are often hard or impossible to eliminate.

We can also argue that scientists in a lab, incentivized by money and fate, and fearing hefty fees and disgrace… can achieve far better results than cavemen breeding wild wheat over several centuries with minimum progress.

A huge part of the anti-GMO movement focuses on the idea that natural products are good (or at least don’t harm us). Those produced in labs are bad. That’s black-and-white thinking.

Let’s also not forget the Black Plague and Influenza are 100% natural and killed more people than all wars combined. Insulin, something many diabetics need, is commercially produced thanks to GMO bacteria.

To find more about GMOs, check out this 10-minute explanatory video:

⚠ The Verdict:

Eggs Bacon Veggies

What is GMO and what isn’t in practical terms is very hard to say. GMO-labeled products are not really that different than the rest.

But releasing hybrid plants and animals into the world may have some unpredictable consequences. That’s a topic for another discussion, beyond the scope of this article, but is something worth considering.

Lastly, let’s not forget that thanks to GMOs we’ve practically eliminated hunger in most countries. Modified cultures can also help us battle pollution, deforestation, and even soil erosion by creating GMOs that are more resistant and yield more produce.

To learn more about GMOs check out this science-based article:

#5 Is the High Price of Organic Food Justified… and Is It Healthier?

Organic Grapes

“Organic” can mean different things in different countries. But generally, the term refers to food that doesn’t contain artificial compounds or GMOs. This means no hormones, antibiotics, or synthetic fertilizers.

Organic foods are well regulated and there are strict standards in place. Every stage of the production chain should meet all the (local) requirements. In other words, it’s not easy to put the “organic” stamp on your product.

For more information about organic foods in the US and EU check out:

What Is the Main Difference Between Organic and Conventional Farming?

Here’s a short list of the key differences:

Conventional Farming Organic Farming
Synthetic chemical fertilizers Natural fertilizers (manure or compost)
Synthetic pesticides Natural pesticides or traps
Herbicides Removing weeds or other manual/mechanical labor strategies
Hormones and antibiotics No hormones and antibiotics
Conventional animal feeds Varied organic animal feeds

The major takeaways are:

  1. Organic products usually have better nutrient content thanks to the extra care organic plants receive and the superior diet of organic animals.
  2. Pesticides and fertilizers are used in both cases and the general approach is very similar.
  3. Organic farming is very labor intensive usually yields less product compared to conventional farming.
  4. Organic farming is risky and time-consuming since herbicides, hormones, and antibiotics are not used.
  5. Because of the reasons highlighted above organic product price can be a much higher than a conventional alternative.

#1 Note: The “Organic” stamp doesn’t mean that the product is made of 100% organic ingredients. However, the required minimum is around 90-95% organic content.

#2 Note: “Natural” doesn’t mean organic. There are no standards or regulations for most natural products, though there are some general guidelines.

#3 Note: Sick “organic” animals may be treated with antibiotics. But products from such animals have to either be sold as conventional, or there must be a period of several months to let the animal get rid of the drugs in its system. Then it could be returned to the organic production chain.

#4 Note: Organic doesn’t mean humane. Most animals in organic farms are treated better than those in regular farms. But animal well-being and suffering is not a top priority. The same applies to labels such as “cage-free” and “free-range”.

#5 Note: “Humane” is a label you may also encounter. But this type of labeling is not regulated and such claims are rarely verified.

❌ Cons (Conventional Products):

Organic vs Regular Pumpkin

Compared to organic products, conventionally produced ones have lower concentrations of vitamins minerals and antioxidants. This is mostly due to the lower-level processing and better quality of care plants and animals receive.

✔ Pros (Conventional Products)

Unfortunately, the difference in micronutrient content and the effect on human health between organic and conventional products is marginally small. Sometimes an extra bite of (conventionally grown) apple is enough to make up for the difference between the vitamins in the regular and organic options.

Here’s some more info regarding the lack of notable difference between the quality of organic and conventional produce:

This is mostly due to 2 main reasons:

  • Thanks to the extra processing most pesticides and antibiotics never make it to the human body. Or there are just trace amounts left that have no real effect on us.
  • The difference in nutrients is very small. For example, if you earn $50,000 and your neighbor earns $55,000 a year – in theory, he’s richer than you. In practice, you’ll have the same quality of life. It’s usually the same difference between organic and regular products.

What Determines the Quality of Organic Products?

The difference in the quality of the soil and what animals eat has a much bigger impact on the quality of the final products. All those vitamins and minerals can be traced back to the soil. Crops raised on a fertile soil will always be healthier compared to poor quality soil, regardless of the farming method used.

You may have heard (or experienced) that organic tastes better. Taste is very subjective and could suffer from preconceived expectation bias. However, blind food tasting reveals that people can’t tell the difference between organic or regular products [8]. Both taste the same.

Freshness determines taste to a huge extent. That’s why local trumps everything. If you go to a garden and pick an apple, it will taste amazing. Leave that same apple on the table for several days and it will taste exactly like the apple in the store… that also left the farm several days ago.

⚠ The Verdict:

Cherry Tomatoes and Pasta

Even though there’s no huge difference, organic products are on average more nutritious. If your budget allows for it, it’s worth introducing organic food to your diet. However, the price-to-quality ratio is not great.

Organic farms sometimes take up more land and could even have a more negative impact on pollution, as they are less effective and require more resources (refer to the GMO section).

Also, from an ethical point of view, organic products don’t have a huge impact on animal suffering. Many products are marketed as “humane”, but that’s mostly a marketing trick. Every farm is in the business of making money and reducing costs, and few animals are treated like you treat your pet at home.

Bottom line: organic is a great option, especially if you go for local produce. But if you for some reason prefer to put your money elsewhere, you’re not missing all that much.

#6 Trans Fats: What Are They & Are They Bad for You?

Trans Fat in Doughnuts

Trans fats do occur in nature but they don’t have a negative effect on human health. However, consumption of man-made trans fats can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease [9].

Foods like doughnuts, cakes, cookies, spreads, fried foods, and others may contain trans fats. The reason these fats are used is they can extend shelf-life, and enhance the taste and mouthfeel of the product.

Trans fats are also known as “hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated oils”.

❌ Cons (Trans Fats)

Unfortunately, these are one of the few substances on our list that is best we completely exclude from our diet or at least keep to a minimum. High consumption can increase inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

✔ Pros (Trans Fats)

There aren’t really any benefits associated with trans fat consumption. Though they do make certain foods taste better. In small amounts, and in the context of already good diet and enough daily activity, trans fats are not something to fear.

As we already discussed, smoking and alcohol have a far greater destructive potential when it comes to your health.

⚠ What Else Should We Know About Fats in Our Diet?

Healthy Fats

Here’s a short cheat sheet to help you distinguish between the different types of fats.

  • Saturated: usually in solid form at room temperature. Mostly found in animal products.
  • Monounsaturated: usually in liquid form. Found in vegetable oils such sunflower, canola, olive oil and others.
  • Polyunsaturated: the most famous of which are Omega-3 (found in fatty fish and flaxseed) and Omega-6 (some vegetable oils, soy products, cereals, etc)

Many foods like nuts, eggs, seeds, and meat contain a combination of all 3 types of fats. It’s usually when raw materials are processed and filtered, one type of fat becomes dominant in the final product.

Saturated Fats: Good, Bad…or Simply Another Diet Fad?

Raw Steak

If you look at the food label of any food item you’ll notice saturated fat (SFA) content is listed separately from the overall fat amount.

Also, you may have heard there’s a link between saturated fat consumption and the increase of cardiovascular disease. Most of those “facts” are highly exaggerated and based on old epidemiological studies.

An example of epidemiological study is when researchers observe a group of people that eat a diet high in saturated fats and also have an above-average mortality rate. Researchers then may conclude that when saturated fat consumption rises so does the risk of premature death.

Such studies can be quite useful… but are often inaccurate. Correlation doesn’t always mean causation. In the example above, it’s hard to control for things like excess body fat, the overall quality of the diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, stress, etc. Each of which is a huge risk factor on its own.

Despite that, the whole “saturated fat is bad for you” idea has become so popular and widely accepted, that this is the reason saturated fat content is displayed separately on food labels. It’s supposed to serve as a reminder how much of it you’re eating, and supposedly limit consumption.

However, there are a number of studies proving SFA is not the evil some people may have you believe [10]. Moderate consumption is perfectly fine.

Monounsaturated fats: What’s Beyond Olive Oil?

Monounsaturated Fat - Olive Oil

Out of all the types of fats, there are no major controversies or hype related to monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Under normal conditions, they are pretty safe. They can even help reduce the risk of heart disease, by lowering total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels [11].

However, when heated to high temperatures, the chemical structure of the fat molecules may change. This can reduce the health benefits of healthy fats like olive oil, or even make them unsafe for human consumption. Yet a typical kitchen setting lacks the equipment to reach such high temperatures.

Most commercially fried food is not very healthy though. High temperatures combined with infrequent changing of the oil used does have a negative effect on the quality of the food.

If you’re deep frying at home, monounsaturated fats are still a safe option. Polyunsaturated fats (discussed below) are less safe, as they may turn into trans fats.

Polyunsaturated Fats: What Are the Benefits of Omega-3?

The polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and Omega-3s, in particular, are well-researched and their benefits have been known for quite some time. Omega-3 consumption can help reduce inflammation, CVD risk, and even slow down aging processes.

Check out this interesting article to find more about Omega-3:

Unlike most fatty acids, Omega-3 and Omega-6 are not only bioactive but also cannot be synthesized by the human body. That’s why they are considered essential fatty acids. The Omega-3 to 6 ratio should not go to any extreme, as both types have a notable effect on some vital bodily processes (e.g. inflammation).

However, If our diet consists of mostly healthy fats (from minimally processed whole foods), and includes a good portion of fatty fish, we shouldn’t worry too much about the Omega-3 to 6 ratio.

#7 Why Are Legumes Healthy… and Why They Give Us Gas?

Raw Beans in a Jar

Legumes and most whole grains contain a good portion of “anti-nutrients”. Anti-nutrients cannot be properly processed and absorbed by our bodies. To make matters worse, they could bind to some vitamins, minerals, and even protein [12] and reduce their absorption. You may also experience discomfort after consuming a high amount of food that contains anti-nutrients.

❌ Cons:

Unlike fruits and veggies (that also contain anti-nutrients) legumes, whole grains (including oats), and nuts have a lot more anti-nutrients. Thus the negative effect is more profound.

For example, 100g of cooked lentils may contain ~35mg of Magnesium. But because of the anti-nutrients present, your body may only absorb around 20-25g. If your stomach is particularly sensitive you may also experience a great deal of discomfort should you have an extra portion or two.

Note: most legumes have high fiber content. Different gut bacteria that are naturally present in your body like to feed on certain types of fiber. When they do that, they release different gases as byproducts. So in a way, you have tiny bacteria passing gas in your gut… that leads to you getting bloated and eventually also passing gas.

It’s a bit more complicated than that and will depend on your gut flora composition… but let’s not blame the anti-nutrients for everything.

✔ Pros:

With some preparation, like soaking (legumes), fermenting (oats and soy products), or sprouting (whole grains) we can neutralize the negative effect of anti-nutrients. It will also help our gut bacteria have an easier time digesting the leftovers of our meal.

However, even without initial prepping, these types of foods can be consumed safely by most people. In fact, legumes are so nutritious that even if we account for the negative effect of anti-nutrients, we’re still looking at an overwhelmingly net-positive effect on human health [13].

#8 Is Whole Wheat Good for You and Should You Go Gluten-Free?

Crepe with Maple Syrop

As a follow-up to point #7 about the legumes, let’s touch on whole wheat and its benefits. On average, it’s richer in vitamins and minerals, compared to white flour. However, it also does come with a hefty dose of anti-nutrients. White flour due being highly processed contains less of everything, both vitamins and minerals, and anti-nutrients.

Based on this, there’s no huge difference between the two types of wheat products. Any positive effect of the increased nutrient content of whole wheat is negated by the decreased absorption because of the extra anti-nutrients.

Research shows that replacing regular pastry with whole wheat has no effect on body composition or markers of inflammation [14]. This doesn’t mean whole wheat is bad but suggests a lot of its benefits are pretty exaggerated.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins in wheat. The gluten-free movement gained popularity over the last few years, but most of its followers are not really gluten intolerant or suffer from a leaky gut.

The number of people with true gluten intolerance (celiac disease) is less than 1%. However, there are those that may feel discomfort after consuming pastry or other gluten-containing products.

But just like with any food, there are always people who can’t tolerate it or need to limit consumption. If that’s you, then simply avoid such foods or determine your tolerance level and don’t go overboard.

If you’re considering going gluten-free you may want to read this article first:

#9 Cooked vs Raw: Which Is Healthier?

Cooked Egg in a Small Pan

You probably know someone (or maybe you’ve tried it yourself) that eats eggs raw. Is it a myth that it’s better to eat raw food to avoid loss of nutrients?

Unlike most animals, we people are rather poorly equipped to handle raw meat, hard nuts, and most plants. Despite that, we sit on top of the food chain.

We may lack razor-sharp teeth and specialized stomachs, but we do have one organ that can handle almost any culinary challenge: the brain. You don’t really need strong jaws to control fire and cook a juicy tender steak that melts in your mouth.

  • What we accomplish with cooking is very similar to what happens in the mouths and stomachs of many animals: mechanical and chemical processing of the food.
  • This helps us improve and even increase nutrient absorption. In fact, many food items are poorly absorbed if consumed raw (e.g. eggs).
  • Cooking also eliminates a good portion of the dangerous microorganisms that may be harmful to our health or cause various diseases.

❌ Does Cooking Reduce Vitamin and Mineral Content?

Cooked Healthy Meal

  • Baking – very high temperatures and long cooking times may lead to loss of vitamin B-complex (~40%). However, baking preserves a lot of the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and is one of the best ways to prepare food.
  • Steaming – minimum loss of nutrients (~10%) but it has a very limited application (steamed steak anyone?)
  • Boiling – there’s mostly loss of water-soluble vitamins (C and B-complex), but most of them are preserved in the water (~60-70%). So if you’re making a soup, you can minimize losses.
  • Grilling and barbecuing – mostly results in the loss of vitamin B-complex and some other minerals (~40%). However, compared to boiling you can’t regain “lost” nutrients by adding the broth back.
  • Microwaving – you lose mostly vitamin C (20%). There might also be some very small negative an effect on Omega-3 content (baking and boiling can have an even smaller effect on the fatty acid profile of the meal)
  • Frying – there’s no huge effect on nutrient content, but it may have an effect on the fatty acid structure and result in trans fat formation. Frying also has a significant negative impact on Omega-3 fats.
  • Freezing – there’s a minimum loss of vitamins and antioxidants. Frozen products are sometimes fresher, as they’ve been harvested and frozen right when they were ripe enough. “Fresh” produce may have been harvested weeks before it finally made it to the store.
  • Canning – the initial processing and cooking of the food may decrease the nutrient content. However, you’re looking at a total 20-50% loss in nutrients depending on how the food was processed and whether you remove the source or juice.

Note: frozen products, usually veggies, may have been slightly cooked or steamed before freezing. That might reduce their nutrient content a bit.

How to Cook Healthy and Reduce Nutrient Loss?

Vegetable Meal

We’ve already discussed the effects and health consequences of grilling and barbecuing, but here are few other general tips:

  • Best way to eat most fruits and veggies is to consume them raw while they’re still fresh. Steaming is a good option for veggies that need some form of cooking. Frozen veggies are also super convenient, you can let them thaw or use a microwave.
  • Baking is a great option for meat and side dishes. Boiling is an alternative for things like pasta, rice, or potatoes. Microwaving is another quick and easy solution for some meats, fish, and eggs.
  • Frying may not be a good option if we’re cooking fatty fish. Cooking using high temperatures, in general, reduces the nutrient content of the food.

To learn more about the impact of cooking and food processing check out this interesting article:

✔ Pros:

There’s almost no loss of macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats). Probably, the “easiest” way to reduce the amount of protein in your steak is to turn it into charcoal, under normal circumstances this doesn’t happen.

The reduction of micronutrient content (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) is not exactly negligible. However, a large number of foods in their raw form are hard to process by our bodies, not to mention some could even be toxic (e.g. cashew nuts).

If we stick to raw food only we may end up with fewer choices and overall reduced intake (and absorption) of some important nutrients.

Lastly, let’s not forget cooking significantly improves the taste of food. A major life pleasure we can’t easily ignore.

⚠ The Verdict:

If we’re trying to improve the quality of our diet, change our eating habits, or simply trying to lose weight, it’s important to pay close attention to how our food is prepared.

Raw fruits and veggies are far more satiating and nutritious than in cooked or juice form. However, frozen and canned foods are a nice alternative when we’re busy and have no time for cooking.

Eating for Longevity: What’s the Secret?

Banana and meat combo

For those of you who made it this far: congratulations! I’ve just read close to 6,000 words to come to the conclusion: “don’t eliminate all the small joys of life, but consume with moderation”.

There are only a few things that are inherently bad for you. Even substances like tobacco, alcohol, and some drugs, while unhealthy, will have limited impact on your health if you only enjoy them occasionally.

Let’s not forget that stress, movement, and happiness also play a huge role in your general well-being. Ironically, if we stress over the quality of our diet too much, that may degrade our health more than the little improvement we’ll see from the diet.

What Is the Price of Longevity?

Is it worth it to live up to 90 years by completely eliminated anything we deem unhealthy? Or would you rather live up to 80-85 with some moderation? Or maybe 40-50 years as a dedicated hedonist?

You have the complete freedom to choose how to live your life. I hope the information presented here helps you make the best decision how to enjoy your life.

Let me leave you with this interesting post from Alan Aragon on the topic of “clean” eating:

Links to research papers cited in the article:

[1] Sugar substitutes: Health controversy over perceived benefits

[2] Clinical Ramifications of Malabsorption of Fructose and Other Short-chain Carbohydrates

[3] Dietary fructose intolerance, fructan intolerance and FODMAPs

[4] Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies

[5] Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus

[6] Effects of grilling procedures on levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in grilled meats

[7] Hormones in meat: different approaches in the EU and in the USA

[8] Consumer sensory analysis of organically and conventionally grown vegetables

[9] Cardiovascular disease and trans fatty acids: legal act necessary

[10] Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.

[11] High-monounsaturated fatty acid diets lower both plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations.

[12] Phytic acid added to white-wheat bread inhibits fractional apparent magnesium absorption in humans.

[13] A review of the Hispanic paradox: time to spill the beans?

[14] Association between carbohydrate quality and inflammatory markers: systematic review of observational and interventional studies

Note: You can read the Bulgarian version of this article on

Nikolay Linkov

Nikolay Linkov


Nikolay is a certified personal trainer. He's lived in 5 different countries and traveled to dozens more while experimenting with a variety of nutrition and training methods over the past 3 years. He's passionate about everything related to exercise and nutrition.

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