Foods That Are Healthier Than You Think
These 20 foods might surprise you with their stealthy health benefits, from avocados to spaghetti and meatballs.
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Spaghetti and Meatballs
Get the Recipe: Lighter Spaghetti and Meatballs
Often bashed for their high sugar and carb content, bananas are a ridiculously healthy fruit that everyone can enjoy. A small banana has the same calories, carbs and fiber as an apple. They also come packed with vitamins C and B6 and good-for-your-heart potassium. Try slicing and baking them for a sweet snack.
Peanut butter may indeed contain fat, but 30 percent of your daily calories should come from healthy fats, for which peanut butter is a great choice. The nutty spread is also a good way to get protein, fiber and vitamin E. The same goes for whole peanuts or nuts such as almonds and walnuts — they're a great way to get your daily dose of healthy fats.
Some folks frown on corn because it's a starchy vegetable. Well, it is starchy — because it's actually a grain! One cup of corn kernels has 5 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber (that's more than 25 percent of the daily recommendation) and energy-producing B-vitamins. You can also eat corn in a wide variety of ways — polenta, tortillas and popcorn are all healthy whole-grain options.
Get the Recipe: Chicken and Bean Burrito Verde
Get the Recipe: Rigatoni with Chicken Thighs
Yet another veggie shunned for its starch content, potatoes are a nutrition powerhouse! A medium potato has 165 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 10 percent of your daily iron and 70 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.
Don’t count out this convenient, affordable and protein-packed seafood option. Tuna also contains those all-important omega-3 fats that benefit skin, blood and nerves. If you’re concerned about the mercury, choose the lower mercury chunk light variety.
It’s a common misconception that frozen fruit falls short compared to fresh. Frozen fruits are harvested and packed at the peak of freshness, and freezing helps retain all those nutrients we love. Enjoy frozen fruit as a snack, stirred into oatmeal or blended into smoothies.
Get the Recipe: Frozen Fruit Smoothies
Pizza lovers rejoice! The basic elements of pizza make for healthy eats but can often be overshadowed by inflated portions and gobs of grease. The most important key to healthy pizza is making your own. Less cheese, fresh vegetables and a crust made from scratch.
Get the Recipe: Healthy Spinach and Ricotta Pizza
Many folks shy away from these crunchy finger foods because they’re high in fat. And with 825 calories per cup, there’s good reason to enjoy in moderation. For sensible and satisfying snacking keep portion of almonds, walnuts, cashews and pistachios to about ¼ cup.
Dried fruits like raisins are a concentrated source of flavor and nutrients, including fiber and iron. The natural sweetness of raisins makes them popular for both kids and grownups. And at 85 calories per ounce (about 60 raisins), they can easily fit into a healthy eating plan.
Get the Recipe: Kids Can Make: Healthy Cinnamon-Raisin Soft Pretzels
Buttery spreads offer a replacement for butter with much less of those unhealthy saturated fats. While buttery spread fans still need to be mindful of portions to keep the calories under control, spreadable options are often fortified with other beneficial ingredients like omega-3 fats and heart healthy plant sterols. Enjoy for every day uses such as toast, sautéed vegetables and melted and drizzled over popcorn.
There’s a broad spectrum of breads on the market, so be selective and seek out the healthiest kinds. Lean towards whole grain and bakery fresh loaves of bread with less preservatives. Enjoy bread as part of balanced meals along with lean protein and healthy fats such as avocado toast and grilled chicken sandwiches.
Get the Recipe: Avocado Toasts
It’s no mystery that cheese can be high in calories and unhealthy fats, but it also offers bone building calcium. Portion controlled pieces of cheese count towards the recommended 3 daily servings of dairy. Choose low fat and lower calorie varieties such as Swiss, goat cheese and part-skim mozzarella.
Lean cuts of beef don’t get the love they deserve. Beef does contain some saturated fat, but about half of the fats found in beef are the healthy monounsaturated kind. Beef also offers important minerals like iron, zinc and selenium. Enjoy 3 to 4 ounce portions of beef on salads, sandwiches or paired with sautéed veggies and whole grains like brown rice for a well-balanced dinner.
Get the Recipe: Beef Stir-Fry
Soda pop may be a no-no, but calorie-free seltzer is certainly healthier than you thought. Stay hydrated with sparkly effervescence by itself, or mixed with tea or 100% fruit juice.