As a registered dietitian, I’m frequently asked if certain foods are “good” or “bad.” I generally fall into the camp that if it’s a whole food (meaning not-processed or minimally-processed), then it’s probably got some health benefits. Are there healthy foods you’re avoiding because you think they’re bad for you? Check this list to find out.
Peanut Butter: Jelly’s nutty counterpart is actually a health food. It delivers protein, fiber and healthy fats, which make it a satisfying addition to your meal. Go for natural peanut butter, with just peanuts (and salt, if you must) in the ingredient list. Other kinds of peanut butter can often be loaded with sugar and less healthy hydrogenated oils.
Canola Oil: Cooking oils can get confusing, but the two types of oils I usually cook with are olive oil and canola oil. Canola oil has a lot of monounsaturated fatty acids — the type of fat that can help lower your cholesterol levels. It’s particularly good if you’re cooking at higher temperatures (like when you’re sauteing or baking), since it has a higher smoke point than olive oil.
Egg yolks: Are you still ordering egg-white omelets? You don’t necessarily need to. Egg yolks actually contain many of the egg’s nutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin, two types of caroteinoids linked to a lowered risk of age-related macular degeneration. They also contain almost half of the egg’s 6 grams of protein.
Bread: Although bread is often the first thing many dieters drop, bread isn’t in itself all that unhealthy. If you get a freshly baked 100% whole-wheat (or other whole grain) loaf, it’s an easy way to get whole grains in your diet. Get it thinly sliced and store in the freezer to keep your portion size in check.
Milk: Milk has gotten a bad rap from many naysayers, but milk is a highly nutritious beverage. Just one 8-oz. glass gives you a third of the calcium most people need each day. Added to that are 8 grams of protein, plus a dose of vitamins A and D. Go for lowfat (1%) or skim to keep calories and saturated fat in check.
Corn: While corn is the root of many processed food ingredients (high fructose corn syrup among them), corn is healthier than you might think. An ear of sweet corn is just 60 calories and delivers 2 grams of fiber, as well as vision-promoting vitamin A and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian who thinks you don’t have to compromise good taste to achieve good health. A former associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, Kerri-Ann now freelance writes about food, nutrition and health trends and her work has been published on FoodNetwork.com, Yahoo! Shine and the Huffington Post, among others. She also puts her masters degree in nutrition from Columbia University to use teaching classes and counseling individuals on adding healthy behaviors to their daily lives. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.