Top 5 'Bad' Foods That Are Actually Good For You

If you are fed up of being told what to eat and drink, well, this could be your lucky day. We've taken five foods that are generally labelled as being bad for you and unearthed some healthy aspects.

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Granted, they are not foods that you can scoff and guzzle to your heart's content — but as a part of a healthy and balanced diet, the following five foods aren't actually as bad for you as you may think.

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is generally left on the shelf by dieters due to its high fat content, but surprisingly a teaspoon of the whole-nut variety comes in at just 30 calories (depending on the brand). So why is it good for you? Well, research shows that eating peanuts can actually help your heart; consumption 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. Try a teaspoon of peanut butter smeared on a couple of oat cakes for a satisfying snack under 150 calories.

Pizza

Now, don't get too excited, we are not saying a 12-inch (1 ft) stuffed crust is good for you, but pizza made in the healthy way can actually provide you with a great complete meal incorporating all of the vital food groups. The pizza base acts as a source of carbohydrate, a healthy portion of vegetables and some protein in the topping and then a sprinkling of cheese gives you your fat. To make a homemade super-healthy slice opt for a wholegrain base, smear on a rich tomato sauce, and then pile on the veggies and lean meat or seafood and finally top with a little low-fat mozzarella.

Beer & stout

Research has suggested that a pint of beer could help protect against heart disease, and maybe even more so than a glass of red wine. It's all down to the presence of B6 which prevents the build up in the body of a chemical called homocysteine - thought to be linked to an increase in the risk of heart disease. And when it comes to stout, it seems the slogan "Guinness is good for you" perhaps has some truth too. Research published in 2003 from the University of Wisconsin showed that a pint of the black stuff is as effective as an aspirin in preventing blood clots, and much tastier.

Chocolate

Granted, chocolate is not low in calories or fat, but dark bitter chocolate is very high in health-promoting antioxidants which help to mop up harmful free radicals which cause cell and DNA damage. And if you are looking to shed a few pounds you can use dark chocolate as a way to curb any sweet cravings; just a few small squares to quell a full on chocolate pig out is well worth the modest calorie and fat intake.

Ice cream

Ice cream is, surprisingly, a low GI food. This means that it releases its sugars slowly and so can keep you feeling fuller for longer. For that reason, you are less likely to binge after eating ice cream. Obviously it's all about moderation and demolishing a whole tub in one sitting isn't going to be good for you, but if you are comparing desserts like for like, 75 grams (2.64oz) of Ben and Jerry's Cookies and Cream ice-cream contains only 114 calories compared to a slice of cheesecake with 511 calories. Secondly, ice-cream is made of milk which contains many essential nutrients. Studies show a possible link between milk consumption and a lowered risk of arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease, and colorectal cancer.

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