Nine foods that are healthier than you might think

For better or for worse, some foods have been earned, we say reputation. You know, the handful of foods we always skip off menus, steer clear of at the grocery store, and otherwise rule on the unhealthy list. But that could be a mistake, as it turns out that many of these bad edibles have unfairly earned their bad wraps, and according to recent studies, some of them might even be healthier for us than we first thought. .

Which is just as well. At the end of the day, most health experts agree that labeling a food as good or bad doesn’t really serve us or our long-term nutritional goals. As pointed out by Dr. Stephen Dahmer, director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine: Deprivation or strict avoidance of certain foods brings feelings of guilt to the table and to your fork, which has nothing to do with it.

Instead, he says it’s better to approach the idea of ​​unhealthy foods with nuance and exercise good old-fashioned common sense. It’s more productive to consider the context in which these foods are consumed and the overall balance of your diet, he explains. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods and listen to your body’s hunger signals so you can support your overall health and well-being while enjoying most things in moderation.

With that in mind, here’s a list of nine foods with proven health benefits that you may have overlooked. Who knows, you might even consider adding the topic at least once in a while to your healthy list.

1. Potatoes

Potatoes may be the ultimate comfort food, but they’re not just empty carbs. They are actually rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber; they are also rich in flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids, which, according to studies, can protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer while providing an anti-inflammatory effect. Resistant starch in potatoes has also been found to improve insulin sensitivity and is highly beneficial for the health of the gut microbiome. But how you prepare them really matters for resistant starch to form, chilled potatoes should be allowed to sit for at least 12 hours after cooking before eating. And, if you really want to get the most out of your potatoes, we also recommend that you consider eating them with the skins on.

2. Eggs

Eggs have a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol, but now a large body of evidence suggests that the cholesterol in eggs may not affect a person’s overall blood cholesterol levels, so it might be worth adding them in your diet. After all, they’re a low-calorie source of protein and contain plenty of good-for-you nutrients like choline, biotin, and vitamin A. Eggs can be a nutritious and valuable part of a balanced diet. , as they provide essential and culinary nutrients. versatility, explains Dahmer. Including them in moderation as part of a diverse and well-rounded diet can contribute to overall health and well-being. Still, he recommends sticking to poaching, boiling, baking or stir-frying for maximum benefits. Don’t fry them, he says.

3. Coffee

We all know that drinking too much coffee can wreak havoc on our nerves, but if you don’t overdo it, it can also have many health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants and has been linked to a reduced risk of several diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even certain types of cancer. To avoid jitters or experiencing that dreaded caffeine crash, stick to no more than four cups a day. And remember, not everyone handles caffeine the same way.

4. Butter

Butters high in fat and cholesterol usually make it off-limits to health-conscious diners. However, it may be better for you than you think. Not only does it contain many beneficial fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins like A and E, it can even help your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods. It is also a source of butyric acid, which can benefit the microbiome to regulate metabolism and promote gut health. But perhaps the most promising health benefit of butters is that it contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which can boost immune function and have anti-cancer properties. Just remember that it is best to feed grass because it contains more good fats. And, don’t overdo it. As Dahmer points out, ultimately the key is to approach dietary choices with care and moderation.

5. Cheese

Cheese may not be the first food that comes to mind when you think of creating a healthy diet, but it can actually be a good source of calcium, healthy fats, and protein. It also contains important nutrients like vitamin B12 and phosphorus, and consuming dairy can even lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and significantly reduce the risk of stroke. High-quality cheese can also provide probiotic benefits when made with fermented milk and, as Dahmer points out, fermented foods like kefir and yogurt, as well as kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut—another category that deserves more recognition These foods are rich in probiotics that support gut health and immune function. Fermented foods have long been overlooked or avoided, despite their potential to promote digestive health and overall well-being, he says.

6. Whole milk

Fun fact: Milk consumption in the U.S. has dropped 47 percent since 1975. But if you’re one of the naysayers who still prefers a splash of real milk over oat, almond, or soy in your coffee , you might want to think about getting the whole version instead of skim. Recent research shows that whole milk dairy products may be linked to a lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and there is some evidence that a small amount of whole milk products might even be heart-healthy. But remember, when it comes to dairy, moderation and high-quality, minimally processed options are key, Dahmer advises. Practice portion control and balance your dairy intake with other nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

7. Nuts

Nuts can be high in calories: depending on the variety, they contain between 650 and 700 calories per 100 grams. But that doesn’t mean they should be avoided entirely—in fact, some studies have found they can even help you maintain your weight. Nuts are a valuable addition to a healthy diet that offer a number of health benefits, Dahmer explains. Packed with nutrients like healthy fats, protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, regular consumption has been linked to improved heart health, reduced inflammation, better blood sugar control, and support for to weight management. However, he recommends enjoying them in moderation: A good serving is a small handful or an ounce (28 grams) per serving, he says. And don’t worry about choosing between roasted and raw, contrary to popular belief, both types have similar nutritional content, although roasted versions are more prone to oxidation, meaning they could go rancid faster .

8. Chocolate

This might be the best news on the list, although it’s not exactly new news. But just in case you need a little reminder of chocolate’s health benefits, here they are: Chocolate is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, which can benefit the heart and reduce inflammation. And, according to tons of research, it can also improve brain function and strengthen our immunity. But don’t use that as an excuse to load up on your favorite kid’s candy bar—high-quality dark chocolate, which contains plenty of these healthy cocoa solids, really is best. And skip white chocolate, as it only contains cocoa butter, which doesn’t have the same health benefits.

9. Fatty fish

I regularly advise patients to reconsider certain foods that have been unfairly demonized, and one of those groups includes fats, especially those found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines, Dahmer says. These foods contain healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3s, which are beneficial for heart health, brain function, and overall well-being. Since our body cannot produce these important fatty acids on its own, it is important to consume them in food. And if you’re vegan, don’t stress—flaxseeds, avocados, nuts, and some seaweeds can also offer many of the same benefits.

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