When you're trying to eat healthy, it can be hard to keep track of what you can eat and what you can't, what's unhealthy and what's actually good for you. Diets talk about paring down the junk food intake, but also skipping out on foods packed with protein because they might have high sodium or fat contents. But as it turns out, plenty of the foods people tell you to steer clear of are actually full of things that you need. And we're not just talking about how dark chocolate is actually good for your heart or how a glass of wine can boost productivity.
We're talking about those foods that you've been trained to think of as off-limits when dieting. As it turns out, they actually can be part of normal, healthy meals. Sure, you don't want to binge on steak on a regular basis. But you don't have to stick to just lean chicken and fish to get your protein without veering off course. Unfortunately, junk food itself will never really be healthy (though if you're looking for healthier versions of junk food, we've got your covered). But these supposed "unhealthy" foods can actually be super good for you. Check out the gallery below to see what you don't need to be stripping out of your diet after all.
Is bacon healthy?
Most people who are trying to be conscious about their health know to stay away from bacon. But in reality, it's packed full of protein, not to mention omega-3 fatty acids that can lower your risk for depression, rheumatoid arthritis, and dementia. If you're at higher risk of heart disease, sure, you might want to be careful about how much bacon you eat. But pigging out now and then should never be off the table.
Is rice healthy for you?
Although white rice is highly processed and stripped of the bran and germ (rice's nutrient-rich core), it's not necessarily an empty carb. According to Healthline, most white rice in the United States is enriched with added vitamins and minerals like iron, B vitamins, and folic acid. That said, brown rice is the entire whole grain, including the fiber-rich bran and nutritious germ. It also has fewer calories and carbs than white rice, and twice as much fiber, making it a better choice overall. You can also look into how a basmati rice-based Ayurvedic kitchari cleanse can help you balance your body and even lose weight.
Potatoes can be healthy.
French fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes — you've been told over and over that these are "unhealthy" foods, off limits, no good, etc. But actually, white potatoes come loaded with potassium, fiber, calcium, and vitamins C and B6. Those nutrients are typically in the skin, but if you incorporate that into your cooking, you're good to go.
Red meat can be pretty healthy.
Like bacon, red meat is packed full of protein, and it's got vitamins and minerals your body needs, too, like vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. It's also home to linoleic acid, which can help when you're trying to shed fat. Yeah, eating red meat every day could be trouble — but eating it once or twice a week can actually be good for you. Just make sure you're cutting off the fat and going for leaner portions.