It might be the perfect healthy snack to keep your arteries clear after a workout, but it’s also loaded with cholesterol.
And broccoli isn’t the only food that’s bad for you.
“This is a high-fiber, low-calorie, low fat food, so you’re eating less calories than the average American,” says Dr. Michael C. Jacobson, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Jacobsons work on a nutrition research project called “The Dietary Paradox” that’s looking at how our diets impact health.
The project’s findings will be presented in a forthcoming paper in the journal PLOS ONE.
“The average American consumes over 10,000 calories per day, which means they’re eating about one-third of the calories from carbohydrates and the other third from fat,” Jacobsson says.
The average diet in the U.S. is typically between 65 and 95 percent carbohydrate and 30 to 55 percent fat, Jacobsones research shows.
“That means that you’re consuming about 2,000 to 4,000 grams of carbohydrates and about 4,300 to 6,400 grams of fat a day,” Jacobson says, noting that a healthy diet consists of more than 1,000 carbs and around 300 to 500 grams of protein.
According to the USDA, the average adult American eats about 3,500 calories a day, or nearly 7 ounces.
“If you eat about 2.5 to 2.75 ounces a day of carbohydrates, you’re getting about 150 to 250 grams of carbohydrate a day.
So if you were to eat about 1,200 calories a week, you would be eating about 1.2 to 1.4 ounces of carbohydrates a day.”
In fact, a typical American diet consists mostly of carbohydrates.
The average American eats less than one ounce of fat and fewer than 1 gram of protein per day.
Jacobsons research suggests that most of the carbohydrate in our diets comes from processed foods like bread, pasta, and cakes, which are high in sugar.
The carbs are then broken down into smaller pieces, like pasta sauce and pasta cheese.
“So when we eat a meal that has a lot of carbs, it makes us crave the carbs more than it helps us feel full,” Jacobsen says.
“So if we consume a lot more carbs, that can lead to overeating, and you may have more of a craving to have more carbs.”
Coffee and processed foods are also linked to higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
And the USDA estimates that over the course of a lifetime, an American consumes more than 2,500 grams of sugar-sweetened beverages per day and about 50 grams of processed foods.
“It’s really important to eat foods that are high fiber, high in fiber, low in sugar, and low in calories,” Jacobssons research shows, noting these foods are usually high in omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which are good for our heart and brain.
“In terms of diet, the amount of calories we eat is actually a function of how much fat we eat,” Jacob says.
He explains that if you’re looking to cut calories, Jacobson suggests a diet that’s “not too low in carbs and is mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.”
“We really need to balance those two things because there are a lot, if not the most, of those carbohydrates that are very high in fat and a lot that are low in fat,” he says.
So is there any health benefit to eating broccoli?
Jacobson says yes.
“People who eat a diet high in carbs have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease,” he explains.
But even if you eat broccoli, there’s still good news.
For one, the food contains a high amount of fiber.
“Fiber is actually associated with better mental health,” Jacobi says.
Jacobsen also notes that broccoli is a good source of vitamin E, a nutrient that’s important for preventing wrinkles.
there’s some evidence that eating broccoli may improve your immune system, as well.
As for what you can eat, you could eat more broccoli.
It’s a good idea to eat broccoli in moderation, though, and Jacobsone says to limit the amount you eat.
You could also limit the quantity of calories you eat and still have enough fiber to keep you full.
A broccoli salad is a great option.
“I think the best thing to do is just not eat as much broccoli, as you’re still getting all the benefits,” Jacob is advised.
Check out the rest of Jacobsontv’s research and find out how to cut your calories with this simple salad.
Sources: The Dietary Paradox: A Nutrition Research Project, Harvard School, PLOS, Harvard Journal of Medicine, The American Dietetic Association