Red Meat, Plus 9 Other Unexpected Foods You Should be Eating

Red meat, chocolate, beer, and bread. All things you should lay off of if you want to stay healthy, right?

Nope! These 10 “bad” foods are unexpectedly nutritious. It can be tough to separate myth from truth, but there’s an element of good to be found in each of these foods. By avoiding these so-called unhealthy foods, you may be missing out on some great nutrients. Take a second look at this list and see what you may be unnecessarily skimping on, like egg yolks and peanut butter.


  • Surprisingly Healthy Foods 1 of 11
  • Red Meat 2 of 11

    Red meat has gotten a bad rap for years based on its saturated fat content. Recently though, the connection between heart disease and saturated fat has become less and less clear. Saturated fat may not be as evil as once thought. It still doesn't hurt to choose leaner cuts of meat, like sirloin and top round. Beef is a great source of protein which can help keep you full longer since you digest it slower than carbs.

  • Chocolate 3 of 11

    I'm going to guess most people are pretty happy to see chocolate on this list. While chocolate can be big source of empty calories (a lot of calories and little nutrition), varieties with a high percentage of cocoa, like dark chocolate, may be beneficial to our health. It may improve brain function, help prevent sunburn, and improve cholesterol levels

  • Coffee 4 of 11

    Thank goodness this one falls on the "good-for-you" list; I don't know what I would do without my morning cup of Joe. While the debate on whether coffee is healthy or not goes back and forth, moderate consumption seems to have its benefits. Drinking coffee may help you live longer, prevent type 2 diabetes, protect you from cancer, preserve your brain health, and even make you stronger.

  • Fruit 5 of 11

    The low carb movement put fruit on the banned list due to its sugar content, but focusing on sugar alone overshadows all the good stuff in fruit. Not only is fruit chock full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, if you eat fruit in its natural form (as opposed to juice) you'll get a hefty dose of fiber, too.

  • Potatoes 6 of 11

    The poor, poor potato. An over indulgence in French fries and potato chips have gotten these nutritional powerhouses on the black list. While potatoes look bland and boring without all the fancy prep of fries and chips, they're actually a great source of potassium, vitamins C and B6, and fiber (especially if you chow down on the skin too).

  • Eggs 7 of 11

    Once shunned for their heart-attack inducing cholesterol content, eggs (yolk included!) are back on the to-eat list. Turns out, cholesterol from food plays a fairly insignificant role in contributing to the cholesterol in our blood. Instead of turning your back on eggs, think about what you're pairing your eggs with - bacon, sausage, cheese? Those foods tend to be high in calories and saturated fat. By skipping out on eggs in fear of fat, you're missing out on a low-calorie, high-protein fuel full of important nutrients like zinc, vitamin A, iron, and vitamin D. 

  • Peanut Butter 8 of 11

    Jars of reduced fat peanut butter lining grocery store shelves may encourage you to think the regular kind is bad for you, but peanut butter is a good source of monounsaturated fat (one of the good guys). The problem comes when you go a little overboard, eating spoonful after spoonful after spoonful. Be wary of the reduced fat variety, as it usually has extra sugar to compensate for the missing fat. 

  • Beer 9 of 11

    You may have heard of the benefits of drinking red wine, but that doesn't mean you have to give up beer. Recent research shows that about a glass of beer a day can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke by 30%. That doesn't mean you get to go crazy and drink the whole 6-pack though.

  • Bread 10 of 11

    The gluten-free craze of the latter half of the decade has really given bread a run for its money. While there are a handful of people that are allergic to gluten or intolerant to wheat, most of the population can handle it just fine. Whole grains provide fiber that helps keep us full and may even reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Just be sure to look for the word "whole" on the ingredient list to make sure you're really getting the good stuff. If you do have trouble digesting wheat, try alternatives like buckwheat, millet, and brown rice. 

  • Oil 11 of 11

    Oil in general may not be all that great for you, but it really depends what kind of oil you're talking about. Vegetable or nut-based oils like olive, grapeseed, and walnut oils are composed mostly of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which tend to be heart-healthy. They also contain linoleic acid, an essential nutrient that may help lower the risk of heart disease. An even better choice may be coconut oil. Coconut oil contains 2 important things: medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and lauric acid. MCTs are easily digested fats that are used for energy without raising insulin levels like simple carbohydrates. Burning fat for energy means you're not storing it, a bonus on all accounts. Lauric acid may help protect your immune system, with its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Have you been unnecessarily avoiding any of these unexpected foods?

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