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The boring, old rules of healthy eating are landing on the scrap heap as new research uncovers the intricate ways nutrients work within our bodies. The result? Some surprising shifts in what should really be on our plates and more food flexibility and fun as well. Here are 10 things you might not have known about eating well:
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Trans fat is out, but good fats are in
"'Fat-free' used to mean healthy, but now we know that's totally wrong" said Minh-Hai Tran, a registered dietitian in private practice in Seattle.
While certain lipids, such as trans fats , are still known to be bad for us (and probably always will be), it's not a good idea to lump all fats together into one group, Tran said. Numerous studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil supplements promote heart and brain health, and a 2009 study in the journal BMC Cancer found they also lower the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.
Omega-3s, which also have been found to improve conditions such as arthritis, high cholesterol and attention disorders, are found in many grains, seeds and nuts as well.Slide 3 of 21
A yolk a day may keep the doctor awaySlide 4 of 21
A yolk a day may keep the doctor away
Forget the egg-white omelet and egg substitute: the healthiest part of the egg may be the yolk. Growing research indicates that the nutrient choline, which is similar to a B vitamin, is deficient in many adults and more important than once thought, Tran said.
Egg yolks are one of the richest sources of choline, along with butter (surprise!), peanuts, soybeans and oats. Choline is an essential part of most cell membranes, particularly in brain cells, Tran said.Slide 5 of 21
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Celebrate culture of all kinds
More ethnic foods than ever before can be found in U.S. restaurants and markets, and eating them does more than expand your palate. Eating fermented or cultured foods such as kefir (a Turkish milk drink), tamari (a dark, smoky Japanese soy sauce), kimchi (a Korean vegetable dish) and miso (a thick Japanese condiment) promotes the growth of healthful bacteria in our intestines, said Laura Knoff, a licensed nutritionist in Oakland, Calif.
"Look for the words 'raw' or 'contains live cultures' on labels," said Knoff, who's written two nutrition-related books. Also known as probiotics , these bacteria can enhance protein and mineral absorption and improve conditions such as constipation, colitis and heartburn.Slide 7 of 21
Hungry or thirsty? That is the questionSlide 8 of 21