Today, Americans take food choices very seriously. We all know about the important link between what we eat and our overall health. At US Family Health Plan – a TRICARE Prime health program – we support wellness and a healthy lifestyle because these are two critical pillars of good health. To help you stay on course, today are sharing 5 healthy food choices that may mistakenly be perceived as unhealthy. These foods taste good but surprisingly, they also happen to be good for you. Knowing about them can help you eat better, while still enjoying your meal. And that’s a winning combination!
- Pork chops. Taste isn't the only great thing about that juicy pork chop you have been eyeing in the butcher's case. Compared to beef or chicken, pork chops contain relatively high amounts of selenium -- a mineral that's linked to lower risk of cancer. Per gram, pork chops have almost five times the selenium of beef, and more than twice that of chicken. They're also loaded with riboflavin and thiamin, B vitamins, which help your body convert calories to energy more efficiently. Researchers have found that a 6-ounce daily serving of pork also helps you preserve muscle mass as you lost weight. So break out those ribs! Just go easy on the sauce.
- Mushrooms. Yes, you’re right. We are talking “edible fungus”. There are over 700 different species of mushrooms that are known to have a healthy, medicinal qualities. Made up of more than 90% water, mushrooms contain metabolites, which are by-products they release when we digest them in our bodies. Metabolites boost immunity and prevent cancer growth. Pass the mushrooms, please.
- Red Pepper Flakes. Yes, some do like it hot. And what better way to spice up a dish than sprinkle a few of these little babies on top of your favorite dish? The good news? Those little red pepper flakes may be what’s helping you curb your appetite, preventing you from eating too much. Researchers have shown that eating 1/2 teaspoon of pepper—30 minutes prior to a meal – resulted in 14% less caloric intake. But realistically, do you really think you will you eat ½ a teaspoon of straight pepper flakes? We think not. But the appetite reducing effect is real, and will help you at least curb some over-eating. And red pepper, which contains capsaicin, is also believed to kill of cancer cells. Can you stand the heat?
- Iceberg Lettuce. Most of us have written off this bland salad staple in favor or sexier kale, romaine, or arugula. Iceberg lettuce is largely believed to be nutritionally bankrupt and has been sadly cast aside in a lonely corner of your supermarket’s produce section. But new research indicates that this reputation may be unfounded. It turns out that half a head of lettuce contains significantly more alpha-carotene, a powerful disease-fighting antioxidant, than either romaine lettuce or spinach. And it only is 10 calories per cup, so you get a ton of nutrition without paying the price in extra pounds. Go ahead and enjoy your iceberg lettuce, rabbit!
- Vinegar. Food researchers have recently learned that when you eat two tablespoons of vinegar with a high-carb meal, your blood sugar can be as much as 23% lower after your meal. Vinegar also gives you the sensation of feeling fuller, so you won’t want to eat as much. Vinegar is packed with polyphenols, which are powerful chemicals that have been shown to improve cardiovascular health. When you combine vinegar with olive oil for a homemade salad dressing, it not only tastes great, it gives you a great health punch. Vinegar also helps lower your blood pressure and can be a great taste substitute for salt. A little dab with do ya!
So now that you know you can still eat some of your favorite foods and support good health at the same time, the only thing to thing to talk about next is portion size. If, for instance, you are eating pork, adjust the amount you eat so that you are staying within your “calorie budget” – or just put more simply, don’t overdo it! Use good judgement with all food you eat, but remember that you can always eat foods you like and still have a healthy diet. Every now and then, it even pays to splurge on that ice cream sundae or piece of your favorite cake. It takes the edge off being a good eater. Eating well is easier when we can incorporate things we like into our diet. Just be aware of the foods you need to avoid and remember to always eat in moderation. US Family health plan puts the same emphasis on happy as we put on health – so eat wisely but include some of the foods that you like too!