On the surface it sounds like good advice. If you want to be healthier “never eat white foods.” The idea, of course, is that highly processed and overly refined foods tend to be white, so simply by avoiding white foods you will automatically be eating healthier.
The only trouble is, it’s bad advice.
While it’s true that some white foods—take the whitest of white foods, white bread for example—are pure junk, when you wipe out an entire color of food from your diet you’re bound to be cutting out some good, right along with the bad. And that’s exactly the case with white foods.
We are completely behind keeping highly processed and refined foods off your menu, but don’t toss out the baby with the bathwater. Following are six naturally healthy white foods you should put back into your diet.
1. White beans:
Legumes such as great northern beans, white navy beans and fava beans all deserve a place on your plate. Just like their red and black bean cousins they’re packed with protein, fiber and antioxidants. Garbanzo beans and chickpeas are nutritional powerhouses too, so go ahead and indulge in some hummus guilt-free!
Cauliflower is a genuine superfood, packed with alphabet vitamins, antioxidants and calcium this cruciferous veggie—just like its green siblings–may even help fight cancer! And when you “rice” cauliflower (chop it up finely by hand or in a food processor) it makes an excellent replacement for those heavily processed white foods you should be skipping, such as white rice and even pizza crust.
3. Cottage cheese:
You may not have given cottage cheese much thought since you were a kid, or maybe since you tried that popular diet back in the 80s, but it’s time to change that. Cottage cheese is a heathy addition to your regular adult diet, too. One cup provides you with a big punch of protein, a variety of vitamins including four different B’s, and a number of minerals including magnesium, calcium and potassium.
Opt for eating your cottage cheese alone with a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper for a savory treat. Sweeten it up with some fresh fruit instead. Or spread it on toast just like you would cream cheese. No matter how you rediscover cottage cheese, you’ll be glad you did.
4. Greek yogurt:
Traditionally made Greek yogurts are produced using a special straining process that leaves you with a firmer, creamier tasting product that’s naturally higher in protein, but lower in sugar and carbs than regular yogurt.
Plain Greek yogurt supplies you with good gut bugs, helps build strong bones and supports your heart health. It works as a sweet snack if you add fruit, or a savory one if you add nuts. Or use it anywhere you’d usually use sour cream.
Often overshadowed by its fancier cousins, such as the popular Portabella, the white button-cap mushroom should have a place on your regular menu. White button-caps are easy to find, year-round, and very versatile. They are at home topping an omnivore’s steak, serving as the base for a tasty gluten-free veggie burger, or jazzing up a vegan spaghetti sauce. Most importantly, though, mushrooms are loaded with a ton of good for your vitamins and minerals.
Yes, the much maligned white potato still deserves a spot in your diet. One of the first white foods to get kicked off the menu, potatoes have gotten an undeserved bad reputation. They have more potassium than bananas, can help keep blood pressure regular and are a surprising source of vitamin C. Once you’ve done away with heavily processed carbs, the occasional white potato can be a delicious part of even a lower-carb diet, as long as you’re not battling blood sugar issues.
The key to getting the most out of your potato is to turn it into a resistant starch by chilling it in the fridge after cooking. Resistant starches, like soluble fiber, help feed the good bugs in your belly and are fat burners that could help you with blood sugar control and may even trigger some mild weight loss by reducing fat storage. (Underripe bananas, and those beans we talked about earlier, also contain resistant starches.)
In a study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, eating resistant starch improved women’s blood sugar after eating. Adding soluble fiber to the mix, which you will also find in potatoes, improved the women’s numbers even more. And in another study, resistant starches were able to improve insulin resistance in folks with metabolic syndrome, according to research published in the journal Diabetic Medicine.
Don’t give up on white foods, give up unhealthy ones. Keep theses nutritious, and delicious, white foods on your menu!
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