Best Foods For Your Diet

Selection of vegetables on a wooden chopping board demonstrating a vegan diet

By Maureen Callahan

Bad reputations tend to stick, even with foods. Continued negative press about a fruit, vegetable, or beverage is enough reason for many of us to banish it. Or maybe we indulge on occasion, but with a measure of guilt.

Take avocados and peanuts, for example. Not too long ago they wore a big scarlet “F” for too much fat. Yet as peanuts and avocados sat languishing on many people’s bad-for-you lists, researchers discovered that the fat in these two foods, mostly the monounsaturated kind, is extremely good for the heart–and for health in general. And the good news didn’t stop there. Researchers continue to uncover disease-fighting chemicals or new health roles for these foods.

For the common mushroom, the “bad” reputation is a tad subtler. It’s not perceived as unhealthy. But it is often dismissed as diet food, low in calories but with little to brag about nutritionally. Truth is, scientists are finding that mushrooms contain powerful compounds that boost immune function and may fight cancer.

Now that scientists are looking beneath the surface at mushrooms, avocados, and peanuts–as well as once-maligned eggs and coffee–redeeming qualities for each of these five foods are coming to light. They have nutritional respect and deserve a place at your table. All five are easy to enjoy on their own, or try them in our delicious recipes.

1. Peanut butter

Misconception: This creamy spread is an indulgence best enjoyed occasionally because it’s high in fat and calories.

Why it’s good for you:At least five major studies confirm that eating peanuts can lower risk for coronary heart disease. So it’s no leap to think that peanut butter confers the same benefits. “Suffice it to say that eating peanut butter or peanuts has been associated with lower total cholesterol, lower ldl or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and lower triglycerides, all of which are associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk,” says Richard Mattes, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of nutrition at Purdue University.


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