There are very few foods which confer only positive benefits; even healthy vegetables contain toxins to ward off insects and birds. Remember that plants are Darwinian creatures too, with no special desire to be eaten. The only reason modern man can sustain himself on a purely vegan diet is because thousands of years of careful agricultural cultivation has bred most of the toxins out of cultivated vegetables.
Even quinoa, the superfood-du-jour, contains a toxin called saponin, a naturally-occurring pesticide. Should we stop eating quinoa? No, because the health benefits of consuming quinoa far outweigh any health concerns. To reduce saponin intake, always wash your quinoa – or buy it pre-washed (as I do).
My point is simply that we need to carefully evaluate each and every food that we consume to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks because no food is entirely risk-free. Even water, consumed in sufficient quantities, will kill you.
Coffee is another good example of risk vs. return. Hundreds of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have demonstrated powerful health benefits related to coffee consumption, however caffeine is also known to leach calcium from the bones. We can mitigate the negative affects of caffeine by supplementing with Vitamin D and calcium, thereby making coffee a ‘net winner’ in terms of health benefits.
Making good food choices involves more than just label-checking or browsing the internet. Begin thinking about food in terms of risk vs. return, and consider how to mitigate risks in order to maximize return.