We asked the experts and rounded up a list of foods doctors never eat, and some they always do!
Most of us are well aware that nutrition is a key component to our overall health, and may even be familiar with a little old saying that goes something like, “you are what you eat.” Even though the old adage is a bit eye roll-worthy, there’s much truth to it. Food is the fuel we fill our bodies with in order for our organs to work properly, our cells to divide in a healthy manner, and our energy to be sustainable enough for survival.
But it’s not just any food that fuels our body in the right way. We must consume healthy, nutrient-dense foods to ensure we have all the tools our body needs to grow, repair, and thrive, according to Roger E. Adams, PhD, doctor of nutrition and owner of eatrightfitness.
“There are certain essential nutrients that our bodies cannot provide at all or in sufficient quantities, including certain amino acids, which come from protein are deemed essential, a couple of fatty acids, that come from dietary fats, and certain vitamins and minerals are all essential,” he says. “As long as our diet provides all of these in sufficient quantities, our bodies will have enough to perform optimally.”
While you might think food is food, there are some consequences that come along with a diet that is lacking in nutrients—or filled with bad-for-you ingredients. In fact, a poor quality diet can contribute to worsening inflammation, poor gut health, low energy, heart related issues, mood problems and many other issues, according to Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of Ancient Nutrition, DrAxe.com and author of the best-selling book Ancient Remedies.
“When you’re missing essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12 or vitamin C for example, your immune system and nervous system both take a hit,” he says. “Inflammatory foods in your diet, including those made with added sugar and trans-fats or refined vegetable oils (such corn, safflower, sunflower, soy, peanut oil), fast food, fried foods, highly processed packaged foods, processed meats, artificial sweeteners, too much alcohol, and, for some people, gluten and dairy-containing foods, are capable of contributing to problems like obesity, leaky gut, acid reflux, diabetes, and even anxiety and depression because they mostly contain empty calories.”
Bottom line: Take a cue from these docs and swap the bad for the good when it comes to food. Here are some of the foods doctors never eat —and the ones they rely on each day for optimal nutrition.
Foods Doctors Never Eat
One food Dr. Adams will never shop for is actually a fan favorite: nutella. “Just a 2-tablespoon serving has 21g of sugar, which is about 5 teaspoons—more than over-the-counter chocolate cake frosting!” he says. “It is also extremely high in calories—for those two tablespoons, you get 200 calories, and these calories, besides the sugar, mainly come from a very unhealthy fat called palm oil, which can be very bad for your heart.” A better option that he recommends is almond butter, since the calories are about the same, but the sugar is less than 1 gram. “The fat is mostly monounsaturated (good for your heart), it has more protein and it is mostly made from nuts instead of added ingredients,” he adds.
This popular French delicacy, which has made its way across the globe, is rich, buttery and delicious to most, however, it’s one food Dr. Adams has a hard time eating due to the fact that it’s chock full of saturated fat. “If you aren’t familiar with foie gras, it is made from the liver of a goose or duck that has been fattened with a special fatty diet,” he says. “While a small amount will not impact the diet too much, eating a large serving can be quite a hit in the saturated fat department.” While he acknowledges that there are worse appetizers out there, this is just one that I simply don’t think has enough positives to outweigh the negatives. It’s protein and vitamin and mineral content is simply not adequate enough to offset the high saturated fat.
Hot dogs might be an American staple, but they’re on the list of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s carcinogenic foods, per the American Cancer Society. A number of studies, including one published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, have found that processed meats can have carcinogenic effects, meaning they can raise the risk for colorectal cancer and other problems. “They also tend to be very high in sodium and other additives, which can be damaging to cardiovascular health,” adds Dr. Axe.
This is a definite on the list of foods doctors never eat. Fruit Loops, Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, etc., might have been on your favorite foods list when you were a kid, but they shouldn’t be mainstays of your adult diet. “Not only are foods like these high in added sugar, but they also contain a lot of artificial flavors and colors,” says Nicole M. Avena, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Visiting Professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University and author of What to Eat When You Want to Get Pregnant. “Although the FDA deems these as GRAS (generally recognized as safe), these aren’t natural ingredients by any means, and there is some evidence to suggest that artificial colors may play a role in the development of ADHD in children.”
Neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and author of Drop Acid, would never, ever eat agave, a food he says contains one of the highest volumes of fructose on the planet. “Agave greatly threatens metabolism, as fructose is metabolized to uric acid,” he warns. “As far as a sweetener to replace agave, I would choose allulose or monk fruit.”
Foods Doctors Always Eat
Rich in vitamins A and C, as well as an age-defying antioxidant called anthocyanin, blueberries are one of the best foods for longevity, according to naturopathic doctor and clinical nutritionist David Friedman, N.D., D.C. “Blueberries increase brain signaling, which improves memory and helps balance glucose levels, which may combat neurodegeneration linked to Alzheimer’s disease,” he says. “As for the ever-aging exterior of the body, blueberries contain vitamin C, which builds collagen, reduces wrinkles and enhances overall skin texture.”
Avocados definitely don’t fall under the category of foods doctors never eat because they are loaded with healthy fats and nutrients. Monisha Bhanote, MD, FCAP, quintuple board-certified physician almost always incorporates avocado in her meals daily. “Avocados contain numerous ingredients for optimal cellular function, including Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin E, as well as minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and zinc,” she says. “They are also a fantastic source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), contributing to their anti-inflammatory effect and soluble fiber, making them very friendly to feeding our gut bacteria.”
Dr Adams enjoys hummus as a snack daily, mainly because it’s delicious and it’s loaded with healthy, heart-boosting fats called monounsaturated oil. “Hummus also has a small amount of protein, is plant-based, a good dose of fiber, and is high in many minerals,” he says. “It can really take a boring veggie snack and make it not only tasty but substantial in that it can curb your appetite and keep hunger at bay for several hours due to its complexity and long digestive times.”
If you’re a potato lover, consider switching to sweet potatoes, which get their orange color from a compound called beta-carotene, which helps maintain healthy skin, vision and organ function, notes Dr. Friedman. “If you suffer from neck or back pain, sweet potatoes are my top ‘food-is-medicine’ prescription because just one large sweet potato contains more than 850 milligrams of potassium, a nutrient that helps relieve muscle spasms and reduces inflammation,” he says. “In addition, one cup of baked sweet potatoes contains approximately 50 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement and lots of manganese, a mineral that helps produce collagen and promotes skin as well as bone health.”
Red onions contain an antioxidant called quercetin that fights inflammation and boosts our immune system, according to Dr. Bhanote. “All onions, red included, also contain fructooligosaccharides, which act as probiotics, helping create a good microbiome,” she says. Women, especially, can stand to benefit from daily onion intake, as one study published in the journal Menopause has linked it to greater bone density—an easy way to help ward off osteoporosis. Besides being a source of antioxidants, red onions also contain manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Biotin and Copper.
This fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, which we must get from food notes Dr. Avena. “Higher intakes of omega 3 fatty acids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.,” she says. “There is concern related to mercury levels in fish, but Chilean-farmed salmon is considered a best choice for safe seafood consumption.”
Low in calories and jam-packed in nutrients, including vitamins B6, C, K, A, folate, iron and manganese, Brussels sprouts are a wonderful food to eat often. “In addition to their high fiber content that helps support bowel regularity and gut health, Brussels sprouts contain kaempferol, an antioxidant that may reduce cancer growth, decrease inflammation and promote a healthy heart,” says Dr. Friedman. “Brussels sprouts also contain alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that’s been researched extensively for its brain health and anti-aging properties.”
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