Is peanut butter healthy or unhealthy? It's a question that has baffled nutritionists and the health conscious alike for quite a long time now and there seems to be no solid answer. The nutty spread isn't the only food debated for its nutritional value; articles are produced all the time that throw the world into confusion, but I am here to change at least a few of those.
Below is the definitive list of unhealthy foods that are actually healthy for you, and should be eaten in whole portions (in moderation, of course).
1. Peanut butter
Not only is it fun to say, but it also helps with satiety and weight control. The healthy fats, protein and fibre in this super spread will satisfy your indulgent tooth (yes that's a thing). A teensy caveat: don't let "reduced-fat" brands fool you! The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, as they reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream and lower your risk of heart disease. Reduce fat brands don't have them, so there's no point to them.
You should also avoid spreads with added sugar and oils (sadly, that includes Skippy). High fructose corn syrup and partially or fully-hydrogenated oils are major red flags. They have addictive, harmful effects that should not be consumed. Stick to the plain stuff, and you should be good to go.
2. Egg yolks
Many people are scared of the high cholesterol levels, but research has shown that saturated fat, not cholesterol, is the prime culprit behind deteriorating heart health. Furthermore, according to registered dietitian Kelly Plowe, these golden orbs of nutrition contain three grams of protein.
Egg yolks also contain vitamin D, phosphorous, riboflavin, choline and selenium, along with numerous other vitamins and minerals. Still, this isn't to say you should be wolfing down yolk after yolk at meals. Plowe recommends a three-to-one ratio of whites to yolks—three egg whites for every egg yolk.
When they're not deep fried, potatoes are actually very healthy. They contain potassium and fiber, must-haves for balanced electrolyte and blood sugar levels in the body. The resilient starch in potatoes serves a noble purpose as well: it helps keep you full!
If you don't already know by now sweet potatoes actually trump their siblings. With its arsenal of beta-carotene and higher-fiber content, you can't go wrong. Sadly, sweet potato fries, whilst healthier than regular fries, are still unhealthy.
These fruits can form their own alphabet with the number of vitamins they contain (A, B, C, D, E and K to name a few). Avocados also contain essential fats, and provide a lot of the benefits peanut butter does.
Whilst not technically a food, coffee definitely needs to be given a shoutout. Coffee is one of the top sources of flavonoids in the American diet, and can improve cardiovascular health, not to mention shield cells from the adverse effects of aging. For all the aspiring athletes out there, some coffee in your diet will help you run faster and play harder. It can even help with fertility. Be careful not to overdo it though: caffeine can also be habit-forming, and public health experts say the safe range is three to four cups of coffee per day.
6. White rice
Often called out for having a higher glycemic index than its brown counterpart, white rice may not be as bad as first perceived. While it's true that white rice goes through more processing, white rice sold in the US is fortified with the lost nutrients.
Research has shown that people who eat rice are less likely to have weight issues. The benefits go international, in fact; some of the healthiest nations, including rice kings Japan, enjoy this yummy staple. They have entire shops dedicated to the stuff.
Hooray for popcorn making the list. Popcorn is 100 percent whole grain and packed with antioxidants, making it a great snack. What's more, with air-popped varieties, you can have three cups of this crunchy goodness for just 100 calories. Skip the butter, adding a dash of salt instead, and you've got the perfect movie time munch.
I don't think I've been this happy writing a list before. I love everything on it, and now I know everything here is good for me, I can finally stop having this overwhelming dread when I finish an entire tub of peanut butter in one sitting. Although on second thought, an entire tub of anything isn't healthy, is it?
No matter how inherently healthy a food is, dousing it in oil or butter or sugar will severely diminish its nutritional benefits. Just as we can't call pizza a vegetable because of the tomato sauce, so too can we not deem fried rice or caramel kettle corn good for our health. Prepare your food well, and it will treat you well. Words very easy to live by.