HEALTH

7 Healthy Junk Foods

Being healthy doesn't mean you have to always eat the 'right' foods

Popcorn

Everyone loves snacking on popcorn during a good movie; just make sure you are eating the air-popped kind and not the extra-buttery kind. 

Cynthia Sass, a New York City-based dietitian, explained the health benefits of air popped popcorn: "Popcorn is a whole grain, a food group linked to lower rates of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and dementia. (It’s) low in calories (just 20-25 per cup) and high in fiber." 

Sass also said that few Americans get the minimum recommended serving of whole grains a day, but eat one serving of air-popped popcorn and you have reached your quota!

 

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Pizza

It can be difficult to resist a tasty slice of pie, but now you don't have to. The popular treat can actually be transformed into a healthy alternative while still maintaining its "junk food" appeal. 

"The healthiest pizza is made with thin whole grain crust, extra virgin olive oil, tomato sauce, lots of garlic, herbs and veggies, lean protein and reduced-fat dairy or no cheese," said Sass, who wrote 'The Flat Belly Diet.' 

If you're craving a more sweet than savory slice, Sass recommended adding a dark chocolate sauce or fresh fruit to your creation. Since you can keep adding healthy toppings to your pizza, this is a great way to get a variety of nutrients into one meal.

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Peanut Butter

Now you can take the peanut butter out of hiding. 

If you opt for a natural peanut butter, you will avoid unhealthy trans fat and gain a good serving of, "heart healthy unsaturated fats, protein and nutrients including B vitamins, vitamin E and minerals including magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium and zinc," Sass said. 

Eat it alone or with fresh fruits or vegetables, such as strawberries or celery.

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Oatmeal Cookies

Craving cookies? Oatmeal cookies are packed with whole-grains and are healthy if made with coconut oil instead of butter. 

"They taste great with other superfoods mixed in, including chopped nuts, dried fruits and dark chocolate chips," Sass said.

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French Fries

Sometimes it can be difficult to stay away from fried foods, especially French fries, but now you don't have to. Sass explained that if fried in pure vegetable oil, French fries can be provide heart healthy unsaturated fats. 

French fries are also a good source of potassium, vitamin B6 and antioxidants. Sass said in order to boost the nutritional value in French fries, you can add some antioxidant-rich seasoning, such as rosemary or garlic.

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Dark Chocolate

Who knew such a sweet snack could be good for you? 

"Dark chocolate provides heart-protective antioxidants called flavonoids. [Also], natural substances in chocolate relax blood vessels to reduce blood pressure," Sass explained. "Much of the saturated fat in dark chocolate is called stearic acid, which gets converted into heart healthy oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat or 'MUFA.'" 

Other than being good for the heart, dark chocolate also contains minerals that benefit your whole body, such as magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and potassium. Like potato chips, dark chocolate should be eaten in moderation.

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Chips

Many people think avoiding potato chips is a must if they want to stay healthy. But Manhattan-based nutritionist Cynthia Sass told Foxnews.com this salty snack isn't as bad as you would think.

"If fried in pure vegetable oil, potato chips provide heart healthy, unsaturated fats. Potatoes are (also) a good source of potassium, vitamin B6 and antioxidants." 

Just remember not to eat the whole bag.

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7 Healthy Junk Foods

Being healthy doesn't mean you have to always eat the 'right' foods

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