When you are on a health kick, you have to cut out a lot of your favorite foods, such as sugary snacks, salty snacks and fizzy drinks with an acidic content so high that they can dissolve pennies within a matter of hours. But believe it or not, there are a few ‘cheat foods,’ which when consumed in moderation, won’t destroy your health goals, and will still make you feel as if you’re playing hooky on your diet. Here’s a list of guilty pleasure foods that offer health benefits.
Before you go wild thinking about movie popcorn drenched in diesel fuel, that’s not the kind of popcorn that’s being discussed here. Get yourself to your local grocery store, and buy popcorn seeds and then go home and pop them either in low-fat oil such as coconut oil, or air pop them, which requires no oil whatsoever. For added flavor, lightly drizzle olive oil, cayenne pepper, or sea salt over the popcorn, but be sparing. Popcorn is a whole grain that is low in calories when made in this manner, sugar-free and packed with fiber.
The virtues of eating dark chocolate over milk chocolate have been studied for years. If you buy dark chocolate, select a brand that has at least a 75% cocoa/cacao content. The purer the dark chocolate, the more flavonoids it contains. Flavonoids are antioxidants that are essential in fighting bad cholesterol, alleviating hypertension and cleansing your arteries. You can’t overindulge on dark chocolate, however, meaning that you shouldn’t eat more than two bars pers day.
Lean Red Meat
You should always avoid fatty cuts of red meat, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut red meat entirely from your diet. Lean cuts of red meat are lower in saturated fat, and high in essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and niacin. To ensure that you are eating the healthiest lean red meat, choose organic cuts that are sourced from grass-fed livestock. Limit your lean red meat intake to once a week, or it will go from guilty pleasure to just plain guilt at how much weight you’re gaining.
Before you celebrate and go out and melt a pound of butter over popcorn, pump the brakes just a bit. Yes, butter is much healthier than margarine, which is loaded with bad fat and sugar. In multiple studies, butter has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and to improve your cardiovascular system. However, you must use butter in moderation to obtain these benefits. For example, drizzling a little bit of melted butter over air-popped popcorn is fine. You can also dip vegetables such as broccoli into some melted butter, but make sure it’s not a bucket of butter, just a slight brush to enhance the flavor.
Nuts are a guilty pleasure snack that are good for you in moderation. They are loaded with healthy fats, and they are packed with protein and oils that are good for skin care. Nuts are also high in soluble fiber, which helps you feel full in a quicker amount of time, and prevents you from overeating. The trick with nuts is that you can’t eat more than a handful of them per day, although if you are eating peanuts you can eat a little bit more, as they tend to be lower in fat than cashews, macadamia nuts and almonds. One recent trend that can help you cut down on sodium content, is choosing raw-style nuts that are unsalted with minimal processing. Although you may miss the salt at first, your taste buds will soon become accustomed to the pure taste of the nut.
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