10 More Foods That Are Healthier Than You Think

by in Healthy Tips, September 22, 2011
swiss cheese
Great news: lower-fat cheese, like Swiss, is healthier than most people think.

There are lots of misconceptions about healthy eating. Some folks kick their favorite foods to the curb because they think they’re no good. We’ve already given you a list of ten — here are 10 MORE foods that offer more nutrition than you’re giving them credit for.

1. Cheese
While you will find some unhealthy fats, don’t count out cheese! It’s an excellent source of protein, calcium and even contains a small amount of vitamin D.  Watching your waistline? Keep portions to about 1-ounce and choose lower fat varieties like Swiss, Parmesan or part-skim mozzarella and ricotta.

2. Bread
Some people are still afraid of eating carbs and bread is usually the first to go. But don’t toss those loaves out just yet! You’ll be missing out on nutritious goodies like fiber and important B-vitamins. Limit intake to no more than a couple of slices per day and choose whole grain varieties most of the time.

3. Lettuce
Classically misconstrued as a food that “doesn’t count” – lettuce packs in nutrients like hunger-fighting fiber, antioxidants and vitamins A, C and K. The darker the leaf, the more nutrients it has so bulk up salads, wraps, sandwiches and tacos with a fresh, green, low-calorie crunch.

4. Fruit Butters
Don’t let the name fool you, there’s no butter in this cooked-down fruit puree. Commonly available in apple, pumpkin and peach flavors, it’s divine spread on toast, mixed into yogurt or used in place of some of the oil when baking. Apple butter is a key ingredient in this recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

5. Pizza
Yes, pizza! The combination of bread, lycopene-rich tomatoes and toppings like cheese and veggies actually make for a darn healthy meal. Homemade is the best way to go to keep the portion sizes, calories and grease under control. Try this 5-ingredient recipe from scratch or make things even easier by making mini pizzas on English muffins.

6. Dried Fruit

It might taste like candy but dried fruit has a lot more to offer. Drying fruit allows the natural flavors to concentrate, making it naturally sweet. While you should be careful with portions, dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, pineapple and apricots are a healthy addition to hot and cold cereals, salads and trail mix. Look for brands without added sweeteners and keep portions to a modest couple of tablespoons.

7. Chili
When you consider the ingredients – beans, veggies, spices and maybe some meat – chili is healthy eats. Dial back on the fatty meats and toppings like sour cream and cheese and you’ve got a healthy and satisfying one-pot meal. Use our tips for Chili, Lightened Up.

8. Shellfish
Shellfish like shrimp and lobster always get the shaft for being too high in cholesterol. But it turns out they can be part of heart-healthy diet because they are low in calories and saturated fat and high in protein. Learn more about why we love shellfish.

9. Chocolate
A recent study found that chocolate eaters may have a reduced risk of heart disease. We’ve got 28 favorite ways to munch on chocolate but be sensible about your choco-indulgence. Too much fat, calories and sugar from chocolate is certainly not good for your heart (or your waistline).

10. Steak
Carnivores rejoice! Red meat can be enjoyed in moderation for the benefit of healthy goodies like protein, iron, niacin and vitamin B12. The heart-healthy trick is to opt for lean cuts like beef tenderloin and flank steak. Get the skinny on the leanest cuts of meat.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (1,639)

  1. adood says:

    are you guys serious about chocolate ??

  2. I know they are healthy but I never thought they are these healthy!! Thanks for this very informative blog!

  3. Diet Food says:

    Good article on healthy diet foods.
    Is steak is a healthy choice..really? i have never heard this before.

  4. Patti says:

    And let's not forget nuts! Fattening but satisfying, great protein and heart healthy

  5. Marty Davidson says:

    I agree with most of the 10. You have to remember everything in moderation! However, the dried fruit or the fruit butters should be fresh fruit which is better. Also red meat, you can eat 3ozs a week of the very lean cuts. The chocolate should be dark.

  6. Marie H says:

    I absolutely agree. We eat all these in moderation and none of us have high cholesterol or at risk to heart disease. I berlins those illness are genetically related.

  7. StephRD says:

    This is a terrible post. Our country is so sick and overweight, should you really be telling people cheese and meat are good for you??? They eat enough of it already! Perhaps you should focus on things that are actually good for us that people don't eat nearly enough of. Please read The China Study and then make a post about healthy foods. And we wonder why our country is so sick- because you just justified everything people eat on a daily basis and called it healthy! Way to go.

    • PharrenM says:

      Actually most of the foods on this list are very healthy but people just use them all wrong. The darker the chocolate the healthier it is for you considering that it would have more cocoa beans in it instead of sugar like milk chocolate and white chocolate. Cheese, nuts, and fruits are all good sources of proteins and natural sugars that the people of our country are missing out on. A good steak isnt bad for you at all especially if it isn't shot up with different types of hormones. Pizza isn't a bad thing when it's covered with good cheeses, natural sauce, and vegetables. Lettuce is the most under rated vegetable considering that it gives you a very good source of fiber and vitamins. People are told differently by fast food restraunts and places that could be harmed by this knowledge such as farms that give their cows hormones. I'm fourteen and it shocks me that it's a normal thing to see an obese child every day. All of the things on this list can be very beneficial if consumed correctly. Most people don't realize that going to mcdonalds and getting a salad instead of a big Mac can easily expand their lifetime. We should wage wars against fast food company's and farmers that take the easy way out instead of sites like this who open people's eyes to things they were unhealthy.

  8. MottsV says:

    When you referenced lettuce, I wish you had pointed out that iceberg lettuce is pretty much worthless, except for the crunch factor. While you spoke of color, most people won't get it unless you are specific. Iceberg lettuce has almost no nutritional value whatsoever; use dark, green, leafy varieties to get the benefits listed above.

  9. Molly says:

    I couldn't agree more TLynette!! :)

  10. hannah says:

    This blog was put to tell healthy people who love food what foods susceptible to bad reputations are okay to eat. It says to eat in moderation, and if someone is morbidly obese, they probably didn't get that way by eating good homecooked meals made with good food. I understand that factories that slaughter cattle in bulk and treat the animals with hormones and dietary supplements should not be enabled to do so, however, some is okay for the overall enjoyment of food. Stop sucking the fun out of food just because some beef factory owners need a lesson on animal caretaking.