4 foods that may not be as bad for you as you thought

PHOTO: A jar of natural peanut butter is pictured with peanuts in the background and a spoon full of peanut butter in this undated stock photo.PlayGetty Images
WATCH 4 foods that may not be as bad for you as you thought

When it comes to food, it can be hard to know what is actually good for us.

As different research on what we eat emerges every day, registered dietitian and nutritionist Maya Feller breaks down some of the surprising health benefits of foods that often get a bad rap but she says can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation.

She discusses the surprising virtues of four of our biggest dietary vices.

1. Eggs

PHOTO: A woman displays a bowl of free range eggs in this undated stock photo.Getty Images
A woman displays a bowl of free range eggs in this undated stock photo.

In the recent past, some health professionals cautioned the general public against consuming eggs. The thinking was that consuming more than three whole eggs per week contributed negative amounts of dietary cholesterol and fat and hurt cardiovascular health, as well as led to weight gain, according to Feller.

Recent research, however, has found that the consumption of eggs is associated with better satiety, which results in a decreased risk of overeating, she told ABC News. Eggs are a great source of protein as well as vitamin D, vitamin B12 and leucine, an important amino acid that the body needs for muscle synthesis.

Feller recommends combining eggs with nonstarchy vegetables. Here is her simple recipe for enjoying eggs with any meal.

Ingredients
1 whole egg and 2 egg whites
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 vidalia onion
1 clove garlic
1/4 bunch of chopped Swiss chard

Directions
Heat a pan, add olive oil and cook onion and garlic until translucent, then add Swiss chard and cook until tender. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and egg whites, then pour into pan. Scramble, and cook until done. Enjoy with a side salad.

Feller recommends enjoying a hard-boiled egg as a snack with mixed vegetables such as cucumber, bell peppers, green beans and cherry tomatoes.

2. Full-fat, plain dairy products

PHOTO: A container with yogurt with raspberries and oats is pictured in this undated stock photo.Getty Images
A container with yogurt with raspberries and oats is pictured in this undated stock photo.

Full-fat, plain dairy products contain no added sugars or salt, she told ABC News.

Some health professionals encourage patients to steer clear of full-fat dairy because many believe that whole dairy products can contribute to too much total and saturated fat in their diets, as well as calories, to be considered healthy, according to Feller.

Some recent research, however, has found that consuming full-fat dairy products is associated with better satiety, meaning people are less likely to overeat and make poor food choices after consuming full-fat dairy products, she said.

In addition, yogurt possesses many unique properties, according to Feller, including containing lactic acid bacteria, which may positively affect people's gut microbiota.

Plain, whole yogurt can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways. She recommends using it as a topping for bean chili, as a pairing with fresh berries, as the base of chia pudding or as the base of a cucumber salad.

3. Coffee

PHOTO: A cup of coffee is pictured on coffee beans in this undated stock photo.Getty Images
A cup of coffee is pictured on coffee beans in this undated stock photo.

Some evidence supports theories that coffee can disturb sleep and decrease the body's absorption of calcium and iron and that drinking coffee can be habit forming, Feller said.

New research, however, has uncovered evidence that drinking coffee (regular or decaf), may be associated with a decreased risk of developing some degenerative diseases and even some cancers, she said.

While the research is evolving, she recommends that people drink no more than two to three cups of coffee per day — before noon so as not to disturb sleep patterns. In addition, she recommends skipping the added sugar and opting for cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla or dairy.

4. Peanut butter

PHOTO: A jar of natural peanut butter is pictured with peanuts in the background and a spoon full of peanut butter in this undated stock photo.Getty Images
A jar of natural peanut butter is pictured with peanuts in the background and a spoon full of peanut butter in this undated stock photo.

Peanut butter has gotten a bad rap because of its high calorie and fat content, according to Feller. New research, however, has found that peanuts are a good source of healthy fatty acids, plant-based protein, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals.

The key to keeping nuts a healthy part of one's diet is to have them without added sugars or fats and, for those who are salt-sensitive, without added salt, she said. One serving of peanuts per day, raw or roasted, can be a nutritious snack and part of a well-rounded healthy diet.

To eat nuts as a snack, Feller recommends enjoying one serving of nuts with one whole fruit of one's choice or with a snack-size bag of nonstarchy vegetables of one's choice.

To eat nuts as part of a meal, she recommends enjoying 1 ounce of nuts sprinkled over nonstarchy vegetables of one's choice and served with one serving of starchy vegetables or whole grains.

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