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Healthy eating and exercise for life

"Bad" Foods That are Actually Good for You!

You’ve given up your favorite candy bar, favorite fast food restaurant and many of your favorite meals. Trying to lose weight and being on a “diet” is no fun, right? Wrong! Once you learn that it’s not about being on a diet but rather learning to live a healthier lifestyle you’ll come to realize you don’t need to eliminate certain foods and beverages from your diet – it’s all about moderation.

Believe it or not, some of your favorite foods are actually good for you when consumed in moderation.

Nuts

Nuts get a bad wrap because they’re high in fat. Fortunately, nuts are high in “good fats” -- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are good for the heart. They are also a great source of protein and vitamins. Because nuts contain mainly protein and “good fat,” you will feel more full for a longer period of time as these nutrients take longer to digest.

Best Bet: Have a handful (25 nuts) between meals to stave off hunger. Or, try adding a handful of nuts to your salad for an extra boost of flavor.

Chocolate

Chocolate is a weakness for many people, especially those trying to lose weight. Although chocolate can be high in calories and fat, it also contains antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. In addition, a recent preliminary study suggests cocoa may also help lower blood pressure.

Best Bet: Go for dark chocolate, which contains less fatty cocoa butter. If you enjoy chocolate, go ahead and indulge – just choose a smaller portion such as a “fun-size” candy bar. Also, there are a variety of sugar-free chocolates available that taste great without a lot of calories!

Red Meat

To lose weight you’re not just stuck with chicken, turkey or tofu. Red meat is a great source of protein and iron – and can be lower in calories if you trim the fat – so choose leaner cuts of meat.

Best Bet: Go for a serving (the size of a deck of playing cards) of lean meat. Look for words such as “round” or “loin” (such as round steak or sirloin), which means the meat is leaner.

Cheese

You don’t need to eliminate cheese from your diet if you’re hoping to lose weight. Cheese can be high in fat and calories but it’s also a great source of calcium. Calcium helps keep your bones strong and helps prevent osteoporosis, which is especially important for women. The good news is that the lower-fat and lower-calorie varieties provide the same nutrients! Cheese is also a great way to add flavor to a dish without using a large portion.

Best Bet: Use cheeses that have a strong flavor such as feta and blue cheese. You will use less and still enjoy the flavor of the cheese in your meal. Also, there are numerous low-fat cheeses that taste delicious. Many of them are even great for cooking!

It’s not practical to think of foods as “forbidden” while you’re trying to lose weight. Sure, some foods may be better for you than others but it’s okay to indulge every once in awhile. As you can see, many popular foods often considered “bad” can actually provide health benefits if eaten in the context of an overall healthy diet.