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6 formerly forbidden snacks that are actually good for you.

By: Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., Photographs by: Philip Habib

Did you know there are more than 15 types of saturated fat? And despite the fact that they've been damned as a whole by nutrition experts for decades, some of them are actually heart healthy. That's good news, since high-fat foods are often the tastiest.

But a bad reputation is hard to shake. And though saturated fat is the most obvious example of a bad food gone good, it's not the only one. I've run the numbers and scoured the research to determine which vilified foods have been unjustly convicted. The result: six snacks and drinks that deserve an immediate pardon.

PORK RINDS
Why you think they're bad: These puffy snacks are literally cut from pigskin. Then they're deep-fried.

Why they're not: A 1-ounce serving contains zero carbohydrates, 17 grams (g) of protein, and 9 g fat. That's nine times the protein and less fat than you'll find in a serving of carb-packed potato chips. Even better, 43 percent of a pork rind's fat is unsaturated, and most of that is oleic acid -- the same healthy fat found in olive oil. Another 13 percent of its fat content is stearic acid, a type of saturated fat that's considered harmless, because it doesn't raise cholesterol levels.

Eat this: J&J Critters Microwave Pork Rinds ($6.50 for a 10-ounce container; www.micro waveporkrinds.com). Because the rinds are cooked and puffed in a microwave instead of deep-fried, each serving contains only 4 g fat -- meaning they're lower in calories and less greasy than regular pork rinds.

ALCOHOL
Why you think it's bad: It has little nutritional value and is the reason we need the term "beer belly."

Why it's not:
In a study of more than 18,000 men, Harvard scientists discovered that those who had an average of two drinks every day, 5 to 7 days a week, had the lowest risk of heart attack. And researchers at the University of Buffalo found that men who consume that same daily amount have lower levels of abdominal fat than those who drink only once or twice every 2 weeks but down more than four drinks each time.

Drink this:
Pinot noir. It contains more disease-fighting antioxidants than any other type of alcoholic beverage. Look for a Santa Barbara County pinot noir that's a 2002 to 2004 vintage; those are generally recognized as the top wine-producing years for this finicky grape. We like the 2003 Foley, best in show at the San Francisco International Wine Festival (foleywines.com).

BEEF JERKY
Why you think it's bad: It's unhealthy meat that's loaded with preservatives.

Why it's not: Beef jerky is high in protein and doesn't raise your level of insulin -- a hormone that signals your body to store fat. That makes it an ideal between-meals snack, especially when you're trying to lose weight. And while some beef-jerky brands are packed with high-sodium ingredients, such as MSG and sodium nitrate, chemical-free products are available. If you have high blood pressure, check the label for brands that are made from all-natural ingredients, which reduce the total sodium content.

Eat this: Gourmet Natural Beef Jerky (available at americangrassfedbeef.com). It has no preservatives and is made from lean, grass-fed beef. Research shows that, unlike grain-fed products, grass-fed beef contains the same healthy omega-3 fats found in fish.


Go HERE to find out why sour cream, coconut, and chocolate bars are good for you...

4 comments

theTripper said... @ August 23, 2007 at 9:53 AM

pork rind? is that "chicharon"?

Raquel said... @ August 23, 2007 at 9:58 PM

I do agree with you "high-fat foods are often the tastiest". Mao ng ingon sa akong bana everytime magluto ko...lami daw akong niluto pero fattening. Aduh! :D

Carlota said... @ August 23, 2007 at 11:37 PM

theTripper: pork rind? is that "chicharon"?

yes ... hmmmm yummm! :-)

Carlota said... @ August 23, 2007 at 11:38 PM

Raquel: I do agree with you "high-fat foods are often the tastiest". Mao ng ingon sa akong bana everytime magluto ko...lami daw akong niluto pero fattening. Aduh! :D

yep tinood jud...wala man lami kung walay tambok oi. mao jud aduh! hmmm yummmmy!

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