Avocados, potatoes… chocolate? If you refrained from consuming these foods to avoid too much fat sugar or carbs, here’s some good news: Some foods with a bad health rap actually have more vitamins, minerals and benefits than meet the eye. Here’s a list of 8 surprisingly healthful foods.
Yes, avocados have fat, but a 1-ounce slice has only .5 grams of saturated fat. Most of the fat in an avocado is heart healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats that can help lower total cholesterol. Plus, avocados provide more than 20 different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They’re rich in potassium and vitamin E and contain fiber, which helps you feel fuller for longer. Avocados also have antioxidants such as carotenoids, which are found in the deep green part of the flesh close to the peel. Eat avocados in moderation – add them to your favorite sandwiches, dips and salads.
A 1-ounce serving of pistachios equals 49 nuts, which is more per serving than any other nut. Pistachios contain an array of nutrients that contribute to heart health. Scientific evidence suggests that eating 1.5 ounces of pistachios per day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may lower the risk of heart disease. Pistachios offer more than 30 different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One serving of pistachios has as much potassium as half a large banana, plus three grams of fiber.
Worried about the fat and calories? Pistachios are one of the nuts lowest in both. (Pistachios contain just three calories per nut – about half the count of most snack nuts.) Plus, the act of opening each shell to get the nut slows down the eating process, making it a more healthy way to snack. Small and flavorful, pistachios make a satisfying snack or a healthful ingredient in many meals.
While there are many arguments about whether or not coffee is good for you, it can stimulate the brain and sharpen your memory, and it may lower the risk of diabetes, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. The caffeine in coffee can speed up metabolism, which helps lower the risk of obesity. Drink coffee in moderation, and be conscious about what you add to it. Using half-and-half, sugar, syrup and/or whipped cream can pack on the calories.
Great news for chocolate lovers – dark chocolate contains flavonoids and antioxidants, which can actually help reduce high blood pressure, bad cholesterol and the risk of diabetes by boosting insulin sensitivity. Choose dark chocolate with a cacao content of 70 percent or more, and limit your portions to about 1.5 ounces.
Mushrooms are nature’s hidden treasure because one handful delivers nutrition, value, taste and versatility. They’re fat-free, low-calorie, nutrient-dense and low in sodium. Plus, mushrooms contain natural antioxidants and have a savory flavor that enhances everyday dishes. Mushrooms include vitamin D, are high in B vitamins and are a good source of the antioxidants selenium and ergothioneine, which help strengthen the immune system and protect body cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases.
Best known for their high cholesterol content, eggs are actually packed with nutrients, 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, antioxidants and healthy unsaturated fats for just 70 calories. Some eggs have added Omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for preventing heart disease. Eggs are one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, which is important for bones and teeth, and the absorption of calcium. Egg yolks are one of the best sources of choline, essential for brain development, brain function and preventing birth defects. While yolks have the majority of cholesterol, eating a whole egg a few times per week falls within heart-healthy guidelines if cholesterol from other sources is limited.
Spices enhance the flavor of food, but some spices offer health benefits, too. Turmeric and cinnamon are among those studied for their potential disease-fighting compounds. Turmeric is a great source of vitamin B6, essential for maintaining blood vessels and preventing heart disease. This spice is also a great source of iron, manganese, potassium and fiber. Turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory. (This is important because inflammation is a contributor to many diseases, including Alzheimer’s and arthritis.) Cinnamon has also been shown to reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar and blood triglyceride levels. It’s also a good source of manganese, iron and calcium. A single teaspoon of dried oregano is a source of vitamin K and fiber, and it’s packed with antioxidants.
Have you relegated potatoes to the high carb list? One medium-size potato has just 110 calories and no fat, cholesterol or sodium. Potatoes are a good source of potassium (more than bananas or spinach), vitamin C, fiber, vitamin B6 and iron. Potatoes are a complex carbohydrate, meaning the majority of carbohydrates in potatoes are used as energy source for your body. Baked, mashed or roasted, potatoes make a wonderful side or a base for a healthful meal (just go light on the toppings).