are continually spouting the benefits of foods like tomatoes,
avocados and fish, but overdoing it on these healthy foods
actually can be harmful.
nutritious food can be too much of a good thing if you eat it
in too large a quantity or too often," said Elisa Zied,
New York-based dietitian, nutritionist and author of
"Younger Next Week." "For one, anything that
has calories — even if they’re quality calories — can
add up if your portion gets too big. Also, if you overdo any
one food, you will leave less room for other foods that
provide a different mix of nutrients."
some ways to find the right balance so you don’t eat too
much of a good thing.
good for you: A major component of the healthful Mediterranean
diet, it lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke and high
blood pressure because it contains monounsaturated fatty acids
(as opposed to saturated fats or trans fats). A study
published in Neurology found that older people who regularly
consume olive oil have a 41 percent lower risk of stroke
compared with those who never consume it. Other studies have
found that it helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels,
protects against Alzheimer’s disease, prevents acute
pancreatitis and protects the liver from oxidative stress, in
addition to other diseases.
of a good thing: "Because olive oil is looked upon as a
healthy fat, people think they should not be concerned about
calories," said Andrea Giancoli, a Los Angeles-based
registered dietitian and nutrition consultant. "But
this: Giancoli recommends sticking to one tablespoon daily,
which is 120 calories. If you want more than one tablespoon,
you should cut calories in other areas of your diet that day.
good for you: Agave was promoted as being on the low-glycemic
index and doesn’t spike your blood sugar like regular sugar
does — so it’s a good alternative for diabetics. It’s
of a good thing: Agave is mostly fructose, and it has more
calories than sugar (1 teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories while
1 teaspoon of agave has 21), Giancoli said. Fructose may
increase your risk for heart disease and metabolic syndrome,
and it is converted into belly fat faster.
this: The American Heart Association recommends limiting
sweets to 6 teaspoons daily for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
Giancoli suggests treating agave like sugar. "If you’re
not going to put a tablespoon of sugar into your coffee, then
don’t do this for agave," she said.
good for you: It’s high in monounsaturated fat, which
reduces bad cholesterol, lowers your risk of stroke, heart
disease and cancer — and may promote a healthy body weight.
It also contains about 4 grams of protein and is high in
vitamins K, B, C and E.
of a good thing: "Each one also contains 322 calories and
29 grams of fat," said Allison Parker, registered and
licensed dietitian for Mariano’s, a Roundy’s brand grocery
this: Parker has ¼ to 1/3 of a medium avocado as a service of
fat in her meals or snacks — essentially using the avocado
as a replacement for another fat, like butter or mayonnaise.
good for you: Tomatoes are high in vitamins A, B6, E and K,
and they’re also a good source of copper, potassium, fiber
and phosphorus. Oranges are packed with vitamin C,
phytochemicals and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory
properties — and they are only about 80 calories.
of a good thing: "If you overdose on them, one thing that
comes to mind is tooth enamel," Zied said. "Too much
acidity can wear it away, so it’s good to eat acidic fruits
and vegetables for their nutrients and water content but to
also choose other options in those categories (for example
hard, crunchy fruits like apples, carrots and celery that
stimulate the flow of saliva and neutralize the acids in foods
that can erode enamel)."
this: ½ to 1 cup of tomatoes, an orange or a clementine is
great per day.
good for you: Most nuts boast a good dose of monounsaturated
fat that, when used to replace saturated fats and trans fats,
can reduce blood cholesterol and lower heart disease and
stroke risk, Zied said. "Nuts also provide
polyunsaturated fats, which are essential fats our bodies need
from the diet since it can’t make them," Zied said.
of a good thing: They’re easy to overdo because they’re a
concentrated source of calories (a lot of calories in a small
portion), Zied said.
this: 1 ounce of nuts per day — or up to 1 ½ ounces if you
can afford the calories. Mix the types of nuts so you get a
different mix of nutrients and flavors in your diet. An ounce
of almonds is 24 whole almonds or 4 tablespoons chopped. An
ounce of walnuts is 14 halves or 4 tablespoons chopped. An
ounce of pistachios is 48 pistachios.
fish (such as tuna, swordfish or mackerel)
good for you: It’s lean protein and high in B12, vitamin D,
calcium and iron. It also has high amounts of omega-3 fatty
acids, which have been associated with everything from
reducing inflammation and heart disease to warding off
of a good thing: These types of fish contain relatively high
levels of mercury, and while this is particularly concerning
in pregnant and lactating women, it’s not good for anyone to
ingest too much mercury, Parker said.
this: No more than 6 ounces of large fish weekly.
good for you: This is a great way to get in an extra dose of
fruits, vegetables and possibly low-fat dairy.
of a good thing: The calories add up, Parker said. "If
you wouldn’t eat them all together in one sitting, consider
modifying your recipe to incorporate a more realistic
this: 1 cup of spinach, half of a banana and ½ cup assorted
frozen berries. You may also add milk or yogurt to increase
the protein and provide some added calcium, Parker said.