Five foods you thought were bad

Some of our favourite foods have been given a bad rap over the years — but now, experts say that not only are they fine in moderation, but they’re actually good for you. Here are 5 foods that have been redeemed because of their health benefits.

In recent years, dark chocolate has been in the news for its healthy benefits. It contains an abundance of flavonoids — the same antioxidants found in red wine, green tea, fruits and vegetables — which have been associated with a decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and stroke.

And now there’s more good news. According to a new study from Germany, small doses of dark chocolate can decrease your risk for heart attack or stroke by nearly 40 per cent.

When it comes to chocolate, it’s easy to have too much. Overindulgence can lead to weight gain, which is a major risk factor for heart problems and strokes. Participants in the German study, for example, consumed only about six grams of chocolate per day — or the equivalent of about one square of a chocolate bar.

Have you been avoiding eggs because you’re worried about high cholesterol or heart disease? New research has shown that healthy adults can enjoy an egg every day without increasing their risk of heart disease — and according to the American Heart Association, the lutein found in egg yolks actually protects against the progress of early heart disease.

Eggs, which contain only about 70 calories per egg, are loaded with vitamins and minerals that help, among other things, to maintain good vision and foster brain development and function, experts say. They are also a good source of high quality protein and one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D.

The avocado, once banished for its high fat content, has also made a comeback. While it’s true that this delicious buttery fruit is indeed high in fat — with about 30 grams of fat for a medium-sized avocado — nutritionists say that most of the fat is monounsaturated or the ‘good’ kind that can actually lower your cholesterol.

Studies have also shown that avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance shown to significantly lower blood cholesterol levels. But while adding avocados to your diet can provide some healthy benefits as well as great flavour, remember that moderation is key to prevent weight gain.

Maple Syrup
While this tasty topping for pancakes may be loaded with sugar and calories, real maple syrup also contains lots of healthy antioxidants. In fact, researchers from the University of Rhode Island found no fewer than 20 antioxidants in 20 litres of maple syrup from Quebec, including 13 never before found in maple syrup.

These healthy compounds include lignans that are also found in flax seed and whole wheat, a stilbene, which is in the same chemical class as the red wine extract resveratrol. Maple syrup also contains flavonoids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties, and phenolic acids, commonly found in berries and coffee.

Worried about the fat content in nuts? If eaten in moderation, nuts can be a healthy and delicious addition to your diet. Many nuts, including almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, and chestnuts, are good sources of monounsaturated fat, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that can help to prevent heart disease and cancer. Also, experts say that a few nuts can even facilitate weight loss, by preventing hunger and feelings of deprivation.

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