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Six Junk Foods That Are Not As Bad As You Thought

Posted Nov 11 2009 10:03pm
Men's Health Magazine recently had an article about food we consider junk food which actually may be better for you than you would think.  I wanted to share these 6 foods and add my comments to each one.  There are many snacks out there that is considered 'junk food'. They have a lot of calories and saturated fat.  As you'll see below, there are many misconceptions about how bad some foods really are to us.  The Why you think they're bad: and Why they're not: for each are from Men's Health Magazine.

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.

Most people seem to be turned off by pork rinds.  Well, it isn't very pleasant when you think about what it is.  I partake of pork rinds once or twice a year.  Now after seeing the nutritional details, I may snack on it a little more often.


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.
I don't drink beer too often, but I do try to consume some wine every week.  Due to the amount of tannins most red wines seem to give me a headache, so I drink more white wine.  By far my favorite white wine is Riesling.  It has the lowest levels of tannins.

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.
I have snapped into a Slim Jim once in a blue moon, but I haven't had true beef jerky in a long time.  With my high blood pressure it won't be the first snack I would turn to eating.  I will probably stay away from this.

Sour Cream

Why you think it's bad: You know 90 percent of its calories are derived from fat, at least half of which is saturated.

Why it's not: The percentage of fat is high, but the total amount isn't. Consider that a serving of sour cream is 2 tablespoons. That provides just 52 calories— half the amount that's in a single tablespoon of mayonnaise—and less saturated fat than you'd get from drinking a 12-ounce glass of 2 percent reduced-fat milk.
I don't eat much sour cream or mayonnaise for that matter.  I only eat sour cream via a french and onion dip or various casseroles throughout the year.  I only add mayonnaise to turkey sandwiches, which is just a few a year.  For me, sour cream and mayonnaise never really did anything for me.


Why you think it's bad: Ounce for ounce, coconut contains more saturated fat than butter does. As a result, health experts have warned that it will clog your arteries.

Why it's not: Even though coconut is packed with saturated fat, it appears to have a beneficial effect on heart-disease risk factors. One reason: More than 50 percent of its saturated-fat content is lauric acid. A recent analysis of 60 studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that even though lauric acid raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, it boosts HDL (good) cholesterol even more. Overall, this means it decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease. The rest of the saturated fat is almost entirely composed of "medium-chain" fatty acids, which have little or no effect on cholesterol levels.

I like me some coconut.  Many years ago I would get the shavings in a bag and snack on a little bit occasionally.  I like coconut cake and Almond Joys.  Many people don't care for the texture of coconut, but it doesn't bother this guy.  I have the urge to crack open one now and raise my HDL levels.

Chocolate Bars

Why you think they're bad: They're high in both sugar and fat.

Why they're not: Cocoa is rich in flavonoids—the same heart-healthy compounds found in red wine and green tea. Its most potent form is dark chocolate. In a recent study, Greek researchers found that consuming dark chocolate containing 100 milligrams (mg) of flavonoids relaxes your blood vessels, improving bloodflow to your heart. What about the fat? It's mostly stearic and oleic acids.

With my family history I like flavonoids.  Dark chocolate has a high level of flavonoids.  I have one little Dove chocolate piece every day.  Good stuff.

So just maybe you'll look at these 6 foods with more knowledge and understanding.  Of course don't indulge in these or any other foods.  Moderation is the key to so many of life's treasures.
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