Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Surprising health foods

Eating well doesn't have to mean ditching tasty treats in favour of mung beans, spinach and vegetable juices. There are in fact many seemingly unhealthy, fat-laden, calorie-rich foods out there that are actually good for us. Ice cream and strawberry daiquiris are just some of the foods which have disease-preventing, health-enhancing properties. We take a look at what other foods are surprisingly good for you…

Who says pleasure foods can't be good? Recent research revealed that ice cream, one of the most indulgent treats, can actually form part of a well-balanced diet. Ice cream is low in fat and calories and, as one of the scientists at the University of Finland said, 'Is a good choice as a snack or dessert, especially when replacing energy dense products with low nutrition value, such as high fat bakery products and chocolate bars.” Make sure you check nutritional value of different brands, however, and remember that double choc-chip ice cream doesn't count.

We all know that strawberries are good for you, but strawberries and alcohol? Researchers have found that adding alcohol to fruit increases the food's health benefits. The researchers found that alcohol boosted the antioxidant properties of strawberries and blackberries. A strawberry daiquiri, by the way, is made up of lime, icing sugar, white rum, ice, liqueur and the ever-important berries. Don't overdo it on the alcohol, however, as you will soon cancel out any health benefits.

Popcorn shouldn't be regarded as diet-wrecking cinema food. Look closely and you will see it on sale in most health food shops. That is because popcorn, as long as it isn't covered in sugar, salt or sweet sickly sauce, is low in calories and fat and high in fibre.

A cup of hot cocoa may seem like the last thing your body wants, but recent research has found that natural, unprocessed cocoa contains a chemical that helps the body protect itself against some of the world's biggest killers, including heart disease and diabetes.

Good old-fashioned, regular black tea has suffered a dent in its reputation thanks to the rising popularity of herbal teas such as peppermint and green tea. However, tea is in fact a low-calorie drink that is full of antioxidants, while adding a splash of milk ups your calcium intake. And as for the myth that tea is a diuretic - you would have to drink copious amounts of the stuff for it to have this effect on you.

Peanut butter is another food with an unfair reputation. Peanut butter is in fact high in monounsaturated fat, (the good kind) as well as vitamins and protein. Athletes commonly include peanut butter in their diet to give them much-needed bursts of energy. Plus, it tastes really, really good…

Eggs have an unfair reputation as being unhealthy balls of cholesterol, but research has shown that it is saturated fat rather than cholesterol that raises levels of bad cholesterol in the body. Eating eggs as part of a balanced, healthy diet should not put you at an increased risk of heart disease. Eggs are also rich in protein, vitamins and minerals and are low in calories.

Steak can be fatty and too much red meat is not recommended, but the finest cuts of beef can in fact contain as little fat as chicken and are high in iron and protein. Hold the creamy sauces, mind you.

There is a great deal of stigma attached to a canned or frozen fruits, but this reputation is unfair. Canned or frozen fruits are cheap, easy to store and can keep for a long time. Critics say that canned or frozen fruit lose many of their nutrients, but as most producers freeze or package their products soon after picking, the nutritional value should not be affected.

The fact that crab meat is good for you isn't a secret in itself, but it is often overshadowed in favour of other seafood. However, this looks set to change and crab is being tipped to be one of this year's most unlikely superfoods. Dressed crab is just starting to reappear in our supermarkets so make the most of it and reap the health awards. Crab is low in fat and high in protein - so tuck in and enjoy.

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