You should feel good about eating these―the latest research shows they deserve a prominent place in a healthy diet.
August 14, 2008
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Misconception: I shouldn't eat avocados because they're high in fat.
Why They're Good for You: Avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and contain active compounds that may help prevent cancer. They are loaded with antioxidants, including familiar disease-fighting compounds such as lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. They also help the body absorb phytochemicals from other foods. The lycopene in tomatoes or the beta-carotene in carrots may be better absorbed if there's a slice or two of avocado in the bowl. Scientists suspect that the fat content of avocados helps the body absorb these antioxidants.
Misconception: The only thing you get from drinking coffee is being awake.
Why It's Good for You: The benefits of coffee seem to outweigh the negatives. Studies have shown that coffee may help improve memory in older adults and increase alertness and improve performance on all kinds of tasks. Perhaps the most startling finding links regular coffee drinking to a lower risk for type 2 diabetes. A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that people who drink a daily four to six cups have a 28 percent lower risk of developing this illness--which is fast becoming an epidemic in this country--than folks who drink less than two cups each day.
Misconception: Mushrooms are a low-calorie food with little nutritional benefit.
Why They're Good for You: They may be 90 percent water and have only 18 calories per cup, yet mushrooms contain compounds that may do everything from bolster immune function to suppress breast and prostate cancers to decrease tumor size. They contain a healthy helping of the blood pressure-lowering mineral potassium. While orange juice is touted as one of the highest potassium foods, one medium portobello mushroom actually has more potassium, and five white button mushrooms have more potassium than an orange.
Misconception: This creamy spread is an indulgence best enjoyed occasionally because it's high in fat and calories.
Why It's Good For You: Major studies confirm that eating peanuts can lower risk for coronary heart disease. 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. These health benefits seem to occur without promoting weight gain. Participants in one study reported that peanut butter or peanuts were much more filling snacks than rice cakes or pickles and tamed hunger for a much longer period.
Misconception: Eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, so they don't belong in my diet.
Why They're Good for You: Eggs are one of the riches food sources of choline, a nutrient critical to brain function. They contain lutein and zeazanthin, antioxidants that may keep eyes healthy and ward off the leading cause of blindness, macular degeneration. As a whole nutritional package, eggs are hard to beat: They're inexpensive, contain the highest-quality protein on the planet, and are loaded with small amounts of vital nutrients, including folate, riboflavin, selenium, B12, and choline. At 75 calories apiece, eggs are also a nutrient-dense food that makes a smart and low-calorie contribution to any menu.