Safe Food Vs Healthy Food: Which One You Should Include in Your Diet

4 Min
November 21, 2016

Hello! I am Bezalel Adainoo, the author of Stay Well Now. My friends call me Bez. As a professional food scientist, I have been asked many questions by people from different walks of life seeking the right information on what food to eat and how that will affect their health.

The questions about safe foods and healthy foods

For many people, food is food but as many of us are increasingly getting concerned about what we put into our bodies as food, it is paramount to know which food is good for your health. The general recommendation is that we eat nutritious food; what if the food is nutritious yet unsafe? What defines what food is safe and what makes a food healthy? These are questions we subtly grapple with in diverse ways. Why am I even talking about all these? Well…the safety of the food you eat is just as important as the nutritional value of the food. Imagine you ate a beautifully garnished plate of spicy jollof with some well-seasoned grilled chicken and some colorful salad on the side but fell ill as a result of eating this mouth-watering meal. The meal was nutritious but most probably unsafe unless you have an allergic reaction when you eat jollof, which I know no one has…This post is to help you make the right food choices and handle them properly.

What is the difference?

Safe food is food that has been handled, prepared and stored in a manner that prevents food-borne illnesses. Such food is free of microorganisms that cause diseases, physical contaminants (such as hair, pins, sand, stones, etc.), and chemical contaminants (such as pesticide residues, mercury and other heavy metals). Eating safe foods guarantees that you will not fall ill due to the presence of a contaminant in the food. But does that mean the food is healthy? Not necessarily. Healthy food is nutritious food one that promotes or maintains good health because it contains all the essential nutrients in their right quantities the body needs for proper function. The simple fact is that not every safe food is healthy but for a food to be healthy, it has to be safe in order to promote or maintain good health. Having established this, it is important that when selecting foods to include in your diet, you choose healthy foods.

The one to choose

If you had 65 or more years to live, you would have to eat about 70,000 meals with your body disposing off about 50 tons of it. If you make the right choices for most of the 70,000 or so meals, you will have remarkable health, however, if you choose any food at all for a better part of the 65 years, you may not live that long to eat that many meals and if you do you may have to battle with some diet-related diseases.

Healthy foods affect your health positively in diverse ways. Some improve the health of your heart, some make your skin healthier, others help control your blood sugar level, some help improve eyesight, several others even improve brain function, hair growth and so on. And the exciting part is that there are so many foods that have strong positive effects on your health; fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, lean meat, fish, dairy, even spices, etc.

Talking about healthy diets, the truth is that every component of the diet matters. Some foods in a diet would be a major provider of protein (like meat, fish, eggs, legumes, dairy products, etc.), others foods would be your main source of certain vitamins (like fruits, vegetables, some animal products, etc) and yet many of the foods would supply your body with the amount of minerals your body needs. Also, the carbohydrates and the fats in the food would ensure you have energy to carry out your activities. Some of the vitamins would be transported in the fats and oils in the food so that you don’t become vitamin deficient. Amidst all these if you wash your hands well and handle foods well; wash raw foodstuff, store them at the appropriate temperatures and cook them for the right lengths of time you will not have to deal with non-communicable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure or even food-borne illnesses (like cholera).

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