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Kristine Xu is a journalism freshman and Mustang News food columnist.
Every year when springtime hits, everyone makes firm resolutions to improve their diets or adopt a new workout regimen for that dream body. But rest assured, there’s no need to cut out every delicious snack from a healthy diet. Here are some common foods that are not completely unhealthy.
1. Peanut butter
Even though the creamy texture of peanut butter makes it seem like it’s fattening, peanut butter has a high amount of protein and folate, a water-soluble vitamin B that stimulates the healthy development of new cells. Every 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contains 16 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Peanut butter also effortlessly regulates your appetite, as its dense nutrients keep you full for a extended period of time. Just be sure to eat in moderation to avoid overloading on calories.
My mom always warned me about eating too many egg yolks, making me wary to touch any of these so-called “cholesterol bombs.” In reality, the dietary cholesterol found in eggs is less harmful than regular cholesterol, while the compounds found in egg yolks have been linked to reducing the risk of eye-related diseases for people over the age of 50. All the while, eggs also do a great job of satisfying hunger effectively, reducing the likelihood of overeating later in the day.
The biggest culprit behind why potatoes are considered unhealthy is their high glycemic index (GI), which ranks foods based on their effect on blood sugar, posing a problem for diabetics. Fortunately, the fiber, potassium and vitamin C vastly outweigh the harmful effects of their GI. To increase health benefits, add a little olive oil to minimize the absorption of carbohydrates.
Coffee practically becomes part of every college student’s bloodstream when finals week rolls around, causing inconvenient jitters and weight gain from the added sugar and cream. However, research shows the positive effects of caffeine found in coffee can minimize the risk of dementia, liver cancer and diabetes. Limit intake to just 8 ounces per day to achieve these health benefits, making sure to cut back if hyperactivity ensues.
Nuts are full of fats, but not necessarily the bad ones — the fats found in nuts are monounsaturated fats that are great for the heart. Lutein, zeaxanthin and other antioxidants found in nuts have a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. As always, make sure to eat in moderation, because each ounce of nuts can contain anywhere from 160-200 calories.
Bread by itself does not make you fat, especially if you eat it in moderation. Rather, it’s the refined grains and excess carbohydrates that affect a healthy diet. Avoid this diet hazard by switching entirely to whole wheat bread.Whole grains should make up half the consumed grains in a healthy diet, and people who eat more whole grains may live longer.
This fear of fruit really only applies to diabetics and those watching their sugar intake. The negative effects of avoiding fruit altogether vastly outweigh the miniscule “benefits” of limiting fruit consumption. Eating fruit, for example, has been shown to reduce the risk of health problems such as heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes. In addition to the low glycemic index of the sugars found in fruit, the high percentage of water and fiber helps keep you full for later in the day. Eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
After being linked to higher rates of breast cancer among rats that consumed a soy derivative, soy was considered dangerous for consumption. This is surprising, considering the heavy influence of soy in Asian cuisine and the general health benefits of this protein. However, that same health connection has not been made with humans, disproving the soy controversy and allowing the FDA to place health labels on many soy food products.
The concerns of alcoholism, substance abuse and liver disease are all valid arguments for avoiding alcohol altogether. However, when consumed moderately in a safe environment and at a legal age, alcohol may actually reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. In addition, the beneficial nutrients of polyphenols found in red wine can even minimize blood clots, inflammation and oxidation. Pair a serving of wine with a home-cooked meal for all the health benefits of spirits.
10. Fried food
While eating fried foods in excess is unhealthy, consuming these irresistible snacks in moderation is fine. The only reason fried foods are considered unhealthy are the calories used in butter, shortening or trans fat instead of healthier oils. A small consumption of oil, such as those found in fried foods, can benefit overall health by making it easier for the body to absorb vitamins and boost the body’s metabolism.