9 Foods & Drinks That Can Be Surprisingly Healthy

by Erica Florentine

I’m tired of hearing that every food or drink is bad for me in one way or another. I recently wrote an article on foods we consider healthy that actually aren’t, and then I got really sad. What about the foods and drinks we falsely consider unhealthy? To make us all feel better, I’ve looked into those as well, and I’m very happy I did. Turns out, a lot of the negative things we hear about foods and drinks — like bread and alcohol — are just as true as those rumors we hear about Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez rekindling.

My vegan friend recently stopped me while I was chewing a freakin’ piece of gum and told me allll about the supposed negative effects on the body, and I was a little annoyed. Personally, I’m just not into it. The “everything is horrible for us” mindset is one that is bound to make anyone miserable. How can we live a normal life while simultaneously having to questions every moment of it? I’ve worked with many registered dietitians in the past, and all of them have ultimately told me the same message: Moderation is key when it comes to eating and drinking. Of course, eating your weight in cheese every single day is not going to make you the healthiest gal in all of the land. However, having it in moderation — as you’ll learn here — can actually be good for you. Here are nine foods and drinks that aren’t as unhealthy as you might think.

1. Hot Chocolate

I’ve got some good news for you about your favorite cold weather treat. If you ever felt like drinking a cup of hot chocolate was a major indulgence, get this — it’s actually not that bad for you. According to Cosmopolitan, cocoa is filled with healthy compounds known as polyphenols, and these compounds fend off disease. The outlet noted it’s all of the processed chocolates and syrups in hot chocolate that actually give the beverages that “bad for you” component. That said, try making your own at home by heating up a cup of low-fat milk and stirring in two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, a small drop of vanilla extract and a pinch of sugar.

2. Egg Yolks

I can’t recall the last time I let myself eat an egg yolk — I only do egg whites, and have been on the habit for years. However, if anyone ever asked me my rationale for eliminating the yolk I would be completely stumped and probably landed on something like, “Uh… um, well they aren’t healthy?” Now, here I stand corrected. According to Shape, egg yolks are filled with nutritional power, as they’re one of the richest sources of choline — an anti-inflammatory nutrient that helps produce serotonin and dopamine, hormones associated with happiness. According to Shape, egg yolks are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are essential in preventing vision loss.

3. Coffee

Any other coffee addicts out there ever have a non-coffee drinker press you on why you drink so much of the caffeine-induced beverage? I’ll tell you this much – it’s annoying as hell in my opinion. A tale as old as time is that of how awful coffee is for us. However, recent research proves this false. According to Mayo Clinic, research shows coffee could help prevent against a laundry list of ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and depression. If you’ve heard the notion that coffee is dehydrating, think again. According to WebMD, brewed coffee counts towards our daily water intake. (Remember to actually drink water though, too!)

4. Sports Drinks

As a kid, if I was drinking a sports drink I genuinely felt that I was the epitome of health (usually because it was followed by playing recreation soccer). Then I grew up and started hearing whispers that sports drinks weren’t all that healthy, and I believed it without thinking. In actuality, sports drinks are just fine for us after a workout. According to Cosmopolitan, those fluids and electrolytes you sweat out during a good workout can be replenished by sipping on a sports drinks. The drinks can also provide quick energy and the calories in them act as almost a post-workout snack.

5. White Potatoes

While sweet potatoes have long reigned as the perceived “healthier” potato, white potatoes really aren’t so bad, after all. Via, according to Kimberly Hoban, a registered dietician with the CulinArt Group, white potatoes contain a little more protein than their sweet counterparts, and they also contain vitamins A and C. Additionally, according to Hoban, they are packed with potassium. The Cleveland Clinic also confirmed there is no need to ban white potatoes from your diet.

6. Butter

Health nuts might physically wince at the thought of adding butter to anything they’re eating, but here is the fact of the matter: Butter is not as bad for us as we’d imagine. Recently, research has started to show saturated fat, like butter, doesn’t play as big of a role in heart disease as people once imagined, according to Hoban told the outlet, “Butter is becoming more of an ideal choice, I would say, because other options, such as margarine, have all these other additives, chemicals and trans fats.” Ultimately, we shouldn’t be piling our dishes with butter-filled foods, or adding dollops of butter as a topping. However, if we have it here and there, it is certainly not going to kill us.

7. Bread

Every time I’ve ever gone on a strict diet, the first thing I cut out is bread (followed next by cheese, which I’ll get to shortly). According to Shape, bread is a food that really isn’t as bad as we’d like to believe. In fact, the outlet said bread should be a major source of fiber in the diet. If you’re planning to adhere to that bread suggestion, try sticking to whole grain bread, which is packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins and that fiber that is oh-so-good for us.

8. Cocktails

In my opinion, the list just keeps getting better and better here. We’re probably all fairly aware at this point that red wine is good for us in moderation, but what about our beloved weekend cocktail? The trick here is to keep them healthy, so that we can keep our diets on track without missing out on the fun. Trisha Antonsen, Chief Cocktail Officer at Drizly — an on-demand alcohol delivery service — shared this amazing low-cal cocktail recipe with us. The drink is called the Winter Citrus Swizzle, and it’s delicious (I tried it last night because, really, it’s only Thursday night once a week).

Winter Citrus Swizzle

1 1/2 ounces ruby red vodka 3 ounces Perrier L'Orange 1/2 ounce rosemary simple syrup fresh rosemary In a collins glass with ice, pour vodka down the bottom and top with Perrier sparkling water. Add rosemary simple syrup and slide a tall sprig of rosemary down the side of the glass. Stir gently with rosemary before enjoying.For the rosemary simple syrup:1/2 cup granulated sugar1/2 cup water1 large rosemary spring

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil and stir until sugar completely dissolves. Remove from the heat and add fresh rosemary sprig. Steep the sprig in the sugar mixture for 2-3 hours. Strain and store in the fridge.

9. Cheese (!)

I wanted to end with a bang here, and what better way than by including cheese! YAY! According to Cosmopolitan, there are several new studies that suggest including regular and low-fat dairy products in our diets — including cheese — can lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and help keep our weight in check. This mix in the diet can also… wait for it… extend our lives! According to Cosmopolitan, we’ll achieve the most out of these benefits by aiming for about 2.5 serving per day. Sounds like a plan to me — I think I’ll start now.

I hope I’ve managed to make your day a little brighter with some of these tidbits. Next time a friend, relative, or coworker is lecturing you on why a certain food or drink is bad for you, send them this link and then flip them off (OK, kidding about the last part, but you get the idea). Of course, always remember the importance of eating and drinking in moderation too.

Images: Pixabay (9); Drizly (1)