Tracy Satov: Foods you thought were unhealthy but are actually good for you

Until recently, dietary guidelines recommended people to not exceed 300 mg of cholesterol/day. Now, studies are showing that eating cholesterol doesn’t raise cholesterol levels.

Healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss sales are in the billions. Everyday more and more people are trying to eat healthy. Unfortunately, because the market is so saturated with new products each making various health claims, confusion is the result. The reality is many foods that you think aren’t healthy actually are. Here is Tracy’s list of foods that are commonly thought of as unhealthy but are actually good for you. Are they a trick or a treat?


The practice of eating insects is called entomophagy. Insects feed two billion people each day in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Crickets are a very nutritious. They are mostly made up of protein, they contain Omega 3, Omega 6 fatty acids, and are high in calcium and vitamin B12. Their flavour is described as nutty or even tasting like popcorn. Ground up crickets (cricket flour) can be added to baked goods, smoothies, and sauces. They can be added to yogurt, salads, and tacos. You can even eat chocolate-coated crickets as a dessert.


Corn has gotten such a bad reputation. It has been called one of the worst vegetables to eat because of its high glycemic index (raises blood sugar) and because it can be processed into high fructose corn syrup. Commercially produced popcorn, theatre popped popcorn, and flavored microwave popcorn are all unhealthy. They are processed and loaded with artificial ingredients, extra calories, fat and sodium. Popcorn kernels on the other hand are extremely healthy and contain one of the highest amounts of polyphenols. Polyphenols is a type of chemical found in plant foods that help fight free radicals. Not all popcorn is created equally. Get the most nutritional popcorn by making your own on the stove and add the natural flavors you want.

Coconut oil

Everyone is coo coo over coconut oil but is it really healthy for you? Coconut oil is made up of all types of fats (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated) however 92% is saturated. There are different types of saturated fats but all raise LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Coconut oil gets a good reputation because it contains medium chained fats, which have little effect on your LDL cholesterol, but unfortunately only 10% of coconut oil contains that kind of fat. Overall the effects on LDL cholesterol outweigh the benefits of the medium chained fatty acids. However, organic coconut oil has antibacterial properties that can increase your immunity and improve your digestive tract. The medium chained fatty acids provide quick and lasting energy. The oil is wonderful for your hair, skin and nails.

Egg yolks

Egg yolks are high in cholesterol. Two whole eggs contain 422 mg of cholesterol. Until recently, dietary guidelines recommended people to not exceed 300 mg of cholesterol/day. Now, studies are showing that eating cholesterol doesn’t raise cholesterol levels. Eggs yolks contain so many nutrients such as iron, folate, vitamin D, lutein and zeanthin that are beneficial for overall health.

White potatoes

White potatoes are generally considered the inferior potatoes. Did you know that white potatoes are low in calories; they contain half the amount of your daily vitamin C needs and more potassium than a banana? They contain fibre, magnesium and resistant starch, which is good for your gut bacteria. Potatoes can even help with weight loss. Studies show that when people eat potatoes instead of rice or pasta, they were satiated longer and were able to eat less overall.

As you can see some foods you might think are a trick are in fact a treat! If you really do not want to be tricked, book an appointment with a dietitian who would be happy to make certain only treats come your way.

Here’s to eating well and a happy Halloween, Tracy

Tracy Satov, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and a regular columnist with If you have any questions you'd like answered, email her at or call 514-946-4158.


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