What comes to mind when you think of a hearty meal? For most men, the thought of a juicy steak with a heaping side of potatoes or a big bowl of pasta is enough to make even the pickiest eater's mouth water.
But can hearty also be healthy? Surprisingly enough, some of your favorite "guy foods" can be good for you.
Pasta has gotten a bad rap over the years with all the low-carb, fad diets hitting the social scene. But it actually offers a variety of nutrients like calcium, potassium and fiber. And these days, whole-grain or nutrient-packed varieties of our favorite carb-loaded pastas are popping up everywhere.
"Barilla Plus Pasta, which is half-white and half-multigrain, and others like it are healthy alternatives that provide the satisfying taste of regular pasta, plus additional essential vitamins and minerals," dietitian and creator of the F-Factor Diet, Tanya Zuckerbrot told FOXNews.com.
"Compared to regular spaghetti, Barilla Plus has four more grams of protein and three more grams of fiber per serving as well as heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids from the flaxseeds it is made with."
For added nutritional value, toss your cooked pasta with broccoli, mushrooms, onions and antioxidant-rich tomatoes.
You may be thinking about the recent studies linking consumption of red and processed meats that are high in saturated fat to an increased risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease. But some lean cuts of beef -- in moderation of course -- can actually be good for you.
"Lean meats can do more good than harm," Zuckerbrot said. "They're a great source of vitamins B6 and B12, selenium, zinc, potassium, and many other essential vitamins and nutrients, not to mention protein."
So next time you're out at the steak house, opt for a filet mignon over the rib-eye. At a savings of almost 15 grams of saturated fat, your wallet may feel a little lighter, but hey -- so will you!
What steak dinner is complete without a side of potatoes? Sure these starchy spuds are known for their ability to serve up a healthy dose of carbohydrates, but they're also packed with essential nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, protein and more potassium than a banana.
"Many people often prepare potatoes in unhealthy ways," Zuckerbrot said.
Most of the nutrients that are found in potatoes are located in the skin. Therefore to increase the amount of vitamins and minerals, leave the skin on, she added.
Everyone has a secret recipe for chili, and no matter whom you ask -- from gourmet chefs to stay-at-home moms -- they'll all tell you that theirs is the best. But competition aside, there's no denying that this spicy stew is packed with healthy ingredients.
"Beans and legumes are an alternative to meats as a good source of protein and fiber, which are two nutrients that will fill you up without filling you out," Zuckerbrot said.
As an added bonus, beans are rich in antioxidants and nutrients, which can lower your risk of cancer and heart disease.
To boost up the protein content and cut the fat, use lean ground turkey instead of ground beef, Zuckerbrot said.
The ground turkey will yield more meat then regular ground meat when cooked, allowing you to get more bang for your buck, she added.
Chili gets its red color from one of its main ingredients, tomatoes, which are full of essential vitamins and nutrients. They also contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may reduce a man's risk of developing prostate cancer by up to 35 percent, according to several studies.
And if you need another reason to turn up the heat...
"Capsaicin, the substance that gives kick to peppers and chilies, has a thermogenic effect, meaning it causes the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after you eat them," Zuckerbrot said. "Plus, since you can't swallow your food in one bite, eating slowly gives your brain time to register that your stomach is full, so you won't overeat."
If it's dessert you're craving, you may want to pick up some chocolate.
Cocoa contains flavanols and antioxidants, which promote heart health by lowering blood pressure, decreasing insulin resistance, improving function in the cells lining the blood vessels and now, possibly by increasing HDL cholesterol, Zuckerbrot said.
According to Dutch researchers, men who consumed cocoa lowered their risk of dying from heart disease by 50 percent, compared to those who did not consume cocoa, she added.
Over the past decade, the health benefits of drinking alcohol have been widely celebrated in the media.
But, like everything else on this list -- moderation is key. Abusing alcohol will not provide you with any health benefits and can have an adverse effect on your overall health. And for most of us, moderation means having only 1-2 drinks a day.
One study out of Harvard University suggested that moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages like beer, wine or liquor could actually lower a man's risk of suffering a heart attack by 40 to 60 percent.
"In a recent British study, researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption along with a healthy lifestyle added 14 years to life, compared with men and women who did not adopt these behaviors," Zuckerbrot said.
We don't suggest you start drinking to stay healthy, but if are the kind of person who enjoys a cocktail with your dinner -- consider having a glass of red wine.
Resveratrol is one antioxidant getting a lot of press these days for its reputation as the heart-healthy substance in red wine, thought to increase levels of HDL (or "good") cholesterol and protect against artery damage. This powerful antioxidant has also been linked to reducing the risk for certain cancers and slowing the progression of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
And finally, there's nothing like combining two of our healthy "guy foods" for the ultimate treat.
"Studies have shown that alcohol-based marinades significantly reduce the amount of heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are cancer-causing chemicals formed on meats like beef, pork and fish during cooking," Zuckerbrot said. "So get out your lean meats and get cooking."