Can you become healthier this new year simply by cutting out one thing from your diet? We posed the question to six leading nutritionists and received a range of interesting responses. Some of their choices are no brainers, while others are more surprising, and some highlight the importance of eliminating negative thoughts over foods. Intrigued? For some simple ways to eat, drink and think like a nutritionist in 2018, here's what they suggest you avoid.
“If there’s one thing I’d want people to stop consuming and using, it’s vegetable oils. I’m referring mainly to refined cooking oils such as sunflower or rapeseed oil. These are still touted as healthier alternatives to saturated fats, but in truth they’re more likely to be harmful for our long-term health.
“Why? Firstly, polyunsaturated fats such as these are quite fragile and are easily damaged when heated to high temperatures – as they often are, for frying. This creates harmful free radicals that could have a damaging effect for us when we consume them. Solid forms of vegetable oil such as margarine or vegetable oil spreads could be even worse, as the process of turning these liquid oils into a solid fat can create damaging trans fats. It’s thought that trans fats can be incorporated into our body’s cell membranes, replacing the healthy fats that our cells need to work properly.
“Secondly, vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fats and contain little or no omega-3s. Although omega-6s aren’t inherently harmful, having too much of them in relation to omega-3s (which are pretty much only found in oily fish and flaxseeds) can cause an imbalance that may lead to too much inflammation in the body. Excessive inflammation is linked to virtually every chronic health condition, from arthritis to heart disease to asthma.
“Instead of using vegetable oils such as these for cooking, I advise using coconut oil. Coconut oil is mainly made up of saturated fats, which don’t turn into harmful fats when heated. You can buy coconut oils that have been gently ‘de-odorised’ to remove the coconut smell and taste, and these are ideal for cooking. Alternatively, use cooking methods that don’t involve oil, such as steaming or baking. Olive oil is also a healthy oil and isn’t included in those to avoid – but ideally, use it unheated in dressings, or use it for cooking at lower temperatures. Also: keep down your intake of processed foods too, as they often contain vegetable oils as a primary ingredient.”
– Cassandra Barns, nutritionist and health writer