10 More Foods That Are Healthier Than You Think

Some folks quit their favorite foods to be healthy but there's good news: some of these foods, like cheese, pizza and chocolate, are healthier than you think.

There are lots of misconceptions about healthy eating. Some folks kick their favorite foods to the curb because they think they’re no good. We’ve already given you a list of ten -- here are 10 MORE foods that offer more nutrition than you’re giving them credit for.

1. Cheese

While you will find some unhealthy fats, don’t count out cheese! It’s an excellent source of protein, calcium and even contains a small amount of vitamin D.  Watching your waistline? Keep portions to about 1-ounce and choose lower fat varieties like Swiss, Parmesan or part-skim mozzarella and ricotta.

2. Bread

Some people are still afraid of eating carbs and bread is usually the first to go. But don’t toss those loaves out just yet! You’ll be missing out on nutritious goodies like fiber and important B-vitamins. Limit intake to no more than a couple of slices per day and choose whole grain varieties most of the time.

3. Lettuce

Classically misconstrued as a food that “doesn’t count” – lettuce packs in nutrients like hunger-fighting fiber, antioxidants and vitamins A, C and K. The darker the leaf, the more nutrients it has so bulk up salads, wraps, sandwiches and tacos with a fresh, green, low-calorie crunch.

4. Fruit Butters

Don’t let the name fool you, there’s no butter in this cooked-down fruit puree. Commonly available in apple, pumpkin and peach flavors, it's divine spread on toast, mixed into yogurt or used in place of some of the oil when baking. Apple butter is a key ingredient in this recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

5. Pizza

Yes, pizza! The combination of bread, lycopene-rich tomatoes and toppings like cheese and veggies actually make for a darn healthy meal. Homemade is the best way to go to keep the portion sizes, calories and grease under control. Try this 5-ingredient recipe from scratch or make things even easier by making mini pizzas on English muffins.

6. Dried Fruit

It might taste like candy but dried fruit has a lot more to offer. Drying fruit allows the natural flavors to concentrate, making it naturally sweet. While you should be careful with portions, dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, pineapple and apricots are a healthy addition to hot and cold cereals, salads and trail mix. Look for brands without added sweeteners and keep portions to a modest couple of tablespoons.

7. Chili

When you consider the ingredients – beans, veggies, spices and maybe some meat – chili is healthy eats. Dial back on the fatty meats and toppings like sour cream and cheese and you’ve got a healthy and satisfying one-pot meal. Use our tips for Chili, Lightened Up.

8. Shellfish

Shellfish like shrimp and lobster always get the shaft for being too high in cholesterol. But it turns out they can be part of heart-healthy diet because they are low in calories and saturated fat and high in protein. Learn more about why we love shellfish.

9. Chocolate

A recent study found that chocolate eaters may have a reduced risk of heart disease. We've got 28 favorite ways to munch on chocolate but be sensible about your choco-indulgence. Too much fat, calories and sugar from chocolate is certainly not good for your heart (or your waistline).

10. Steak

Carnivores rejoice! Red meat can be enjoyed in moderation for the benefit of healthy goodies like protein, iron, niacin and vitamin B12. The heart-healthy trick is to opt for lean cuts like beef tenderloin and flank steak. Get the skinny on the leanest cuts of meat.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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