When looking more closely at the foods you eat, you may consciously or subconsciously label certain foods as “bad” and unhealthy, while others foods are “good” and beneficial for your body. However, there are times when your preconceived notions aren’t entirely accurate, and these misconceptions are actually preventing you from including healthy and helpful food choices into your diet. While you may consider certain foods off limits, you’re actually limiting yourself by keeping these foods on the “bad” list and out of your dietary regimen. It’s time to refute these inaccurate food reputes once and for all.
Throughout the years, eggs have been given a bad rap, namely because of the higher cholesterol content in their yolks. However, eggs have numerous health benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. First, eggs are a terrific source of protein, and they’re also packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamin D, and iron. Further, as noted by the American Optometric Association, eggs can be beneficial for eye health as well as fighting against macular degeneration because of their high content of lutein and zeaxanthin, which act as antioxidants.
Perhaps most interesting, in light of their bad reputation, eggs are also extremely beneficial in terms of weight management and weight loss. In fact, as noted in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, women who ate eggs for breakfast felt fuller longer than women who ate a breakfast consisting of a bagel of equal caloric value. Even more telling, a study in the International Journal of Obesity revealed that overweight men and women who ate eggs for breakfast lost 65% more weight, 34% more around their waistline, and 16% more total body fat when compared to those who ate a bagel equivalent for breakfast. But if you’re still concerned about the cholesterol content in eggs and its impact on your health, it’s important to keep in mind that research has shown that eating an egg each day doesn’t increase the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease in both men and women, as discussed in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. Plus, an additional benefit of eggs is simply how versatile they are, as there are many different recipes from which to choose.
Cheese is typically put on the bad food list, perhaps in part because of its inclusion in many high-fat, high-calorie dishes, such as pizza, nachos, cheeseburgers, and macaroni and cheese. And while cheese itself does contain saturated fat, bringing cheese back into your diet can actually be an excellent choice for your health. Firstly, cheese is full of protein and is a key source of calcium, which is especially important for woman, as calcium is essential for bone health, can help to prevent osteoporosis, and even plays a role in fighting against painful symptoms of PMS. But the benefits of cheese don’t stop there. Research in Dairy Science & Technology has shown that consuming cheese can help to reduce the likelihood of fat buildup in the liver. Further, research in the journal PLoS One has also found a link between increased cheese consumption and a decreased risk of colorectal cancer.
While many people remove cheese from their diets in order to lose weight, a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed that cheese eaters tend to have higher levels of butyrate in their system, which is an anti-inflammatory fatty acid that can help to combat obesity as well as protect your body against heart disease. To that end, as noted in a study at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, people who increased their daily intake of cheese and other dairy products lost a greater amount of weight than those who consumed the same amount of calories but ate little to no dairy. And if that doesn’t get you smiling, consuming cheese can also help you to fight against cavities by protecting your teeth from acid buildup, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.
If you’re wondering if you should stick to low-fat cheese instead of regular cheese, research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that there’s no significant difference between them in terms of their impact on your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). And most interestingly, those who ate regular cheese actually had higher levels of HDL cholesterol (the healthy kind) than those who didn’t consume any cheese.
While popcorn is considered a movie theater staple, it has long received bad reviews in terms of its impact on your health. However, it’s important to note that popcorn may be better for you than you think. In fact, researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found that popcorn actually contains more polyphenols than many fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols act as powerful antioxidants that can help to protect your body against cell damage. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity noted that diets rich in polyphenols can help to ward off a wide array of serious health conditions, including osteoporosis, heart disease, neurodegeneration, and various types of cancers. But in order to enjoy the full health advantages of popcorn, it’s important to pay attention to the way that you prepare the popcorn itself. To reap the maximum body-friendly benefits, use a hot air popcorn popper and enjoy the popcorn in its truest state. And while adding loads of butter and sugar may sound appealing, they’re not appealing options for your health and waistline. But if microwave popcorn is your only option, it’s imperative that you select a kind that’s all-natural, meaning it’s without salt, oil, or any other unhealthy additives. In fact, microwave popcorn that contains fake butter can pose a number of potential health risks. While these artificial ingredients have been previously linked to breathing issues, research in Chemical Research in Toxicology found that they can also cause an accumulation of plaque in the brain, thereby increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Even though coffee shops and coffee chains seem to be on every street corner, many people believe that drinking caffeinated coffee is an unhealthy choice. And while adding sugar, syrups, powders, creams, and other high-calorie additions to your coffee can certainly start to outweigh the benefits (and add weight on you), it’s worth giving coffee itself a second look in terms of its many advantages for your health. In fact, there’s a popular misconception that caffeinated coffee consumption is linked to an increased likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, but there’s actually no evidence supporting these assertions, according to medical professionals at the Mayo Clinic. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer discussed in The Lancet Oncology that there’s no significant causal relationship between coffee consumption and the development of different types of cancers, such as breast and pancreatic cancer. On the flip side, they determined that coffee drinking can actually help lower the likelihood of developing certain cancers, like uterine cancer.
But the benefits of coffee don’t stop there. Harvard researchers contend that drinking coffee can help to protect you from developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, as well as Parkinson’s disease. If that doesn’t fill your cup, a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease even revealed that drinking coffee daily during middle age can help reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life. In addition, high coffee consumption has also been linked to a reduced risk of multiple sclerosis, as noted in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
So how much caffeinated coffee should you drink each day? The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which translates to approximately four cups of coffee. Taking a coffee break has never felt so good.
Due to the anti-carbohydrate food movement in recent years, beans have gotten a bad rap. And as low-carb diets abound, many people believe that eating beans has become taboo if their goals are to get healthy and lose weight. However, it’s been shown that there’s no significant difference in regards to long-term weight loss by those who embark on a low-carb diet versus those who don’t cut out carbs. And when looking more closely at the many different health benefits of beans, it’s clear that beans deserve a place in your diet. First, beans are packed with fiber, and this high fiber content not only helps control your blood sugar, lower your cholesterol, and keep you regular, but it also plays a critical role in weight loss by helping you to stay satiated longer. One cup of beans contains almost half of a woman’s daily requirement for fiber. To that end, research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that consuming beans, such as lentils and garbanzo beans, can lead to weight loss as well as a reduction in one’s overall percentage of body fat. Beans are also an excellent source of protein, and an added heart-healthy benefit is that they don’t contain the saturated fat that’s found in many animal sources of protein. With this in mind, when you’re looking to select beans to incorporate into your diet, it’s critical to opt for dried beans or canned beans that are clearly labeled that they’re low in sodium and/or don’t contain any added salt.
With the low-carb diet craze in mind, it’s not surprising that potatoes have also found themselves on the bad food list. However, potatoes have many redeeming health benefits, as they’re a great source of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Additionally, potatoes don’t contain any fat or cholesterol, and the skin itself is packed with fiber. But potatoes have been given a bad rap because of their high ranking on the glycemic index. This index ranks how different foods can affect one’s blood sugar levels, and potatoes are high on the index due to the fact that they’re rapidly digested and can markedly spike one’s blood sugar, which can be harmful to your body. However, there’s some real debate about where potatoes actually fall on the index. In fact, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that the preparation of the potato can change its glycemic Index value, as boiled potatoes have a lower ranking on the index than potatoes that are oven-baked, mashed, or deep fried. Along these lines, it’s been shown that the foods you eat in conjunction with potatoes can also impact its ranking. By consuming a potato along with foods that are lower on the index, such as items that contain healthy fats and/or protein, you’re slowing down the overall absorption process in your body and thereby slowing down the potato’s impact on your blood sugar. But if you’re still weary about a potato’s negative impact on your weight loss goals, take note that a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that consuming potatoes doesn’t cause weight gain, as the process of losing weight relies heavily on caloric reduction as opposed to specific food elimination.
Chocolate is typically off-limits for many people, as most dessert items are, and it often finds itself on the bad food list. But chocolate-lovers should rejoice, as this former forbidden food can actually be a healthy addition to your diet. Chocolate, which is made from the cocoa bean, has many health advantages and contains powerful antioxidants that can help lower your blood pressure, protect your cells from damage, and prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating chocolate on a regular basis can also help to enhance your brain function and cognitive abilities, as noted in Appetite. And if that’s not sweet enough, researchers at Harvard Medical School determined that older individuals who drank two cups of hot chocolate daily were able to improve their memory and cognition and thereby cut their risk of developing dementia as well as Alzheimer’s disease. It may also surprise you that chocolate can play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes. Research in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that eating a small amount of chocolate each day can help to impede insulin resistance. While many believe that you should select dark chocolate because it contains more antioxidants than milk chocolate, it truly depends upon how the chocolate was processed. In light of this, you don’t have to say goodbye to milk chocolate just yet, as it also provides heart-healthy benefits. In fact, a study in Heart revealed that habitual chocolate eaters were able to reduce their risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, regardless of whether they had eaten dark chocolate or milk chocolate. Plus, eating chocolate can boost serotonin and endorphin levels in your brain, which can help to improve your mood.
Peanuts are often labeled as bad due in part to their high fat and calorie content, and this belief is particularly widespread among those who are looking to lose weight. However, the tiny and humble peanut is packed with numerous health benefits. First, peanuts are an excellent source of protein, unsaturated fat, fiber, and vitamin E. In fact, research in the International Journal of Epidemiology has shown that eating peanuts can help to reduce your risk of dying from various health conditions, including neurodegenerative disease and respiratory disease. Further, as noted in JAMA: Internal Medicine, people who consumed peanuts were less likely to develop and die from heart disease when compared to those who didn’t eat peanuts. And if weight loss is your goal, it may surprise you that eating peanuts can actually help. As discussed in The Journal of Nutrition, peanuts are a healthy option for those looking to maintain a healthy weight. Plus, research in the International Journal of Obesity found that habitually eating peanuts can help you lose weight due to the fact that peanuts can help to keep you satiated for longer periods of time, thereby quelling your hunger and desire to overeat.
Alcohol is often put on the forbidden list, not only in terms of its seemingly negative effects on your body, but also because of its high calorie content for those looking to lose weight. But before you ban all alcohol from your diet, keep in mind the many different health benefits that drinking alcohol in moderation can provide. You may be surprised to learn that women who drink up to one alcoholic beverage each day can reduce their risk of developing heart disease. Drinking red wine specifically can promote cardiovascular health and raise your HDL cholesterol levels (the healthy kind), as noted in the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research. Plus, research in The Journal of Neuroscience revealed that a key substance found in red wine can help to improve memory and cognition. And for those who are avoiding alcohol in order to reach their weight loss goals, a study at Purdue University revealed that a compound in wine can help to hinder the formation and growth of fat cells, thereby helping to combat weight gain and obesity. But it’s not just wine that should get all the credit, as drinking beer in moderation can also be beneficial to your health. Recent research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in2016 found that drinking beer can help to slow the decline of one’s HDL cholesterol levels. Plus, a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that drinking beer can help prevent the formation of kidney stones. And for women especially, beer has also been found to promote bone health and help combat osteoporosis due to its silicon content.
For many people, selecting whole milk over low-fat or nonfat milk would be unthinkable. But whole milk has a whole slew of different health benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. You may already know that milk contains calcium and vitamin D and that it’s also an excellent source of potassium. People who consume whole dairy are no more likely to develop heart disease than those who drink low-fat milk, as noted in the European Journal of Nutrition. Plus, researchers have discovered that consuming whole dairy is actually inversely related to obesity, meaning its consumption can be beneficial for those looking to lose weight. Along these lines, a study of nearly 18,500 women in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that those who consumed whole fat dairy rather than low-fat dairy were able to reduce their risk of future weight gain. And if that’s not telling enough, research in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care found that those who consumed low-fat dairy were more likely to be obese than those who ate whole fat dairy. Whole milk also plays a role in preventing other health conditions. Research in Circulation revealed that people who had higher levels of dairy fat in their blood also had the lowest likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Isn’t it worth pouring yourself a glass?