There are some foods that suffer from a bad reputation even though they are actually quite good for you. Popular diet trends like low-fat and low-carb diets have written off lists of foods with many health benefits as “no-no” foods. Science shows that a varied diet that contains foods in reasonable portions is probably the best way to go. So throw out the guilt and try adding some of these health-promoting foods back into your meal plan.
Studies show that the plant compounds in chocolate, known as flavanols, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Flavanols positively impact vascular health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and by improving blood flow to the brain and heart. Chocolate’s antioxidants have an anti-clotting effect similar to aspirin. Dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of cocoa and, therefore, more flavanoids than milk chocolate or white chocolate. For the biggest benefit, it is recommended to choose chocolate that is 78% cocoa or higher.
Just adding a half ounce of dark chocolate to your meal plan can significantly raise your antioxidant levels. Try adding dark chocolate chips to your trail mix or snacking on a few dark chocolate covered almonds or pretzels.
Eggs have maintained a controversial status over the years because of their cholesterol content. People with normal cholesterol levels can enjoy an egg a day as long as they are keeping their overall fat and cholesterol intake to moderate amounts. This is easily done by eating larger vegetable portions and keeping meat and dairy portions under control. Eggs are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin D, choline, and the antioxidant lutein, which is important for eye health.
A randomized controlled trial of overweight and obese men and women found that eating an egg breakfast compared to bagel breakfast of equal calories was associated with almost twice as much weight loss and a greater decrease in waist circumference in the egg eaters.
As a fruit that is almost eighty-five percent fat, the avocado has gotten an undeserved bad rap. Avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated fats including phytosterols and oleic acids and omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory and heart protecting properties. Avocados are also rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and carotenoids. The fat found in avocado has a unique role of helping to increase the absorption of these important nutrients.
Avocado can be enjoyed chopped and added to salad or soup. For extra color, flavor and creaminess, try adding sliced avocado to a sandwich, tacos or a turkey burger.
Some people avoid corn because it is a starchy vegetable that is thought to be too high in carbs. In fact, corn is a grain that contains 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per cup. Corn is a good source of vitamin C, the mineral manganese and a long list of anitioxidant phytonutrients.
Corn is a versatile food that can be enjoyed in many different forms. Corn is used to make tortillas and polenta and is also tastes great steamed or grilled right on the cob. Corn makes the perfect snack when eaten popped. Whether served cold in a salad or hot in a soup or stir-fry, corn is a healthy and tasty grain.
Please feel free to ask questions below!
LeeAnn Smith Weintraub, MPH, RD