Take a quick inventory of what’s inside your fridge right now. What do you see? There’s likely a ton of neatly packaged grocery items in there and there’s a big chance you’ll end up with a long list of junk foods. Before you start throwing everything into the bin, you’ll probably be surprised to hear about the benefits of junk foods — okay, well, a handful of those — and aren’t actually junk at all!
What Are The Top 7 Junk Foods That Are Good For You?
There are junk food snacks that you’ve always been told were bad foods to eat. Junk foods, in general, are beneficial for making you feel good at least momentarily but, there are 7 of the best junk foods that you should, in fact, be snacking on more often. Put these “junk” in your cart the next time you go grocery shopping:
Truth is, popcorn has always been good for you — even the early Mexicans and Peruvians have always known about the benefits of popcorn. The fact that popcorn is made from whole grain makes it a healthy snack. A cup of popcorn contains 1.2 g of fiber which acts like your body’s sweeper, collecting bad cholesterol and toxins in your body then, flushes them out.
What makes popcorn unhealthy are all the bad flavorings people are putting on these golden kernels — sugar, caramel, salt, artificial flavors. Air popped popcorn is best enjoyed using a healthy oil for popping popcorn like olive oil, and simply topping it with sea salt. Done this way, you can enjoy the crunch and put to good use its high load of manganese, zinc, B vitamins, and phosphorus to help prevent heart diseases and stroke. A study presented during a conference of the American Chemical Society in 2012 made a bold claim that popcorn is loaded with more polyphenols than veggies and fruits.
Dark Chocolate Bars
Should you dip your hands into a tray of assorted chocolates or, should you help yourself to a bar of dark chocolate? Researchers have argued dark chocolate contains far fewer sinful ingredients that regular milk chocolate and is loaded with more of the potential benefits of chocolate intake, that includes 1.7 g of fiber and 36 mg of magnesium, a nutrient necessary to maintain healthy vascular functions, for every 100 kcal serving of dark chocolate. Several studies, including a 2008 study published in the Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that daily consumption of dark chocolate increased insulin sensitivity and caused a significant decline in blood pressure among subjects who have showed resistance to insulin and who are hypertensive.
The benefits of cracker is largely dependent on what grain it is made of and what other ingredients it is packaged with. Soda crackers are generally good but, these easy healthy snacks can get healthier when these are made from multi-grain ingredients and contains more nutrients at higher levels. The less processed you can get, the better it becomes for your health. You might also want to try baked crackers for even lesser fat content. Feel free to top with your favorite berries, sweet mango, and even use a blended avocado for a dip. This is the fast food for diet that allows you to enjoy your afternoon snacks guilt-free.
Your old bag of potato chips will now normally have a baked, flavored counterpart. Just like your multi-grain crackers are healthier than those made with refined grains, so too are chips made with multi-grains, including whole wheat. Fix yourself some easy homemade snacks right now and pair it with freshly chopped salsa and guacamole — yum!
If you want an even better alternative, you can easily chew on crispy snacks by dehydrating your own potatoes, carrots, bananas, and any other fruits and veggies. Mix in some unsalted almonds and walnuts to amp up the nutritional value of your homemade snacks. Seal in a zip lock container and enjoy the next time you feel like snacking.
Of course, not all pizzas are created equal but at least you can rejoice at the fact that you have better choices compared to your ordinary junk food pizza. There are more than 300 calories in a slice of pizza whereas a brick oven margherita pizza slice contains only 70 calories. Margherita usually just consists of sliced giant tomatoes, cheese and basil. Other healthier toppings are bell peppers which is loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, folate, and Vitamin E. Herb toppings also amp up the nutritional value of your pizza. More of the meats, particularly when processed like hams and sausages, make your slice of pizza more of a junk than actual food.
Remember, when it comes to your choice of pizza, toppings is everything but, the way your pizza is cooked matters just as much. This is one of the reasons why home-cooked doesn’t always give you the best choice — unless you have your own brick oven and you have spare time to hand-toss your pizza.
Until now, experts are questioning whether people should generally avoid red meat or, if it should be included as a regular part of everybody’s diets — how much is an entirely different concern. Examples of red meat include beef, chicken thighs, veal, and lamb.
Studies that have previously shown a direct relationship linking cardiovascular diseases with the consumption of red meat, particularly processed meat, have demonized red meat. Eventually, red meat was tagged, “unhealthy” and it didn’t take long for the many health benefits of eating meat to be forgotten whereas most people insisted on taking only healthy meats like the chicken breast.
Soon enough, experts themselves began asking the same question asked before: “Is red meat good for health or not?” Many studies have been staged recently, three of the most notable ones highlighting the health benefits of moderate consumption of red meat are discussed below:
- A study that reviewed existing evidence about the health benefits and detrimental effects of red meat was published in the Journal of Meat Science in 2014. The study concluded that red meat is, in fact, essential to maintaining “cardiovascular health, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight and composition, and improving vitality and stamina”.
- A study published in the Journal of Physiology in 2012 observed that, “palatable, moderately high-protein test meals suppress energy intake”particularly by sustaining gut hormones, including ghrelin, a hunger hormone — mechanisms that help people stay satiated sooner over a longer period of time. However, the researchers also noted that obese subjects were differently affected and were not significantly satiated by intake of red meat.
- The third study, published in 2008 in the Current Opinion in Endocrinology, concluded, “Diets moderately increased in protein and modestly restricted in carbohydrate and fat, particularly saturated fat, may have beneficial effects on body weight, body composition, and associated metabolic parameters.” The researchers recommended that further studies need to be undertaken to find out the effects, including safety, of high protein diets over the longer term.
If taking all you can eat sushi counts among your guilty pleasures, you must have already realized how much calories you’re picking up with your chopsticks given just a tiny serving of each piece. You will be elated to learn though that sushi is not that bad for your health after all — if you have full awareness of what your chowing down, that is.
Among the most obvious benefits of sushi is its high Omega fatty acids content which plays critical roles in keeping your heart and brain health at their best condition. It helps lower your cholesterol levels which, in turn, effectively prevents heart diseases, and vascular blockages that can eventually lead to a head stroke.
To make your next trip to your favorite Japanese house even more enjoyable and not make yourself bloat overnight, be wiser on what to squeeze in between your chopsticks. When available, request your sushi to be wrapped up and served without the white, refined sticky rice, and avoid the high-calorie and high-fat crabmeat but, if you can’t just help yourself with a serving or two. See, a sushi made with farmed salmon and without rice only contains 52 calories, whereas a regular caterpillar roll will have 448 calories total. Another sushi favorite, uni (sea urchin) only contains 39 calories.
Many a thing has been said about turning your food into your medicine or, you will be taking medicine because of regular consumption of unhealthy food. As much as you want to embrace your raw veggies and fruits to promote your better health, snacking cannot be helped. In addition, snacking helps satisfy your cravings. While these 7 foods aren’t absolutely bad for you, you’ll have to practice due diligence and trust only the foods that come closest to their natural food origins — non-GMO, unrefined or minimally refined, and not combined with low nutrient toppings or flavorings.