The Great Health Debates: Are Coffee, Salt, Chocolate, and More Good or Bad For You?

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These foods and drinks are on our healthy diet watch list (but for what reasons?)

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Coffee, Salt, Chocolate, and More — Good or Bad?

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The health food world is filled with myths, facts, and inevitable truths, but what about the health items that even experts cannot agree on? Navigating the choppy waters of healthy eating can be tricky, but it’s important to know which foods to incorporate into your diet and which foods to avoid completely.

Chocolate

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A study in the journal Heart found that higher chocolate intake was associated with lower risk of cardiovascular problems. About an ounce a day goes a long way, according to Mohr, and eating chocolate in moderation is very beneficial. Be sure to choose chocolate wisely. The higher amount of cocoa and the darker the chocolate, the more flavonals it contains. Flavonals have antioxidant properties that have been shown to lower blood pressure.  

Coffee

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Coffee has several benefits, and it contains antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and protect against heart failure. However, don’t feel like you need to drink coffee if you have not started yet. Coffee has also been linked with anxiety and symptoms of depression, and antioxidants can also be found in nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains. 

Eggs

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After years of anti-egg disputes, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines called for Americans to incorporate eggs into their diets. If the rest of your diet is moderately low in cholesterol, there is no problem with eating eggs for breakfast every day of the week. Eggs contain necessary vitamins and minerals, and they are a great source of protein.

Milk

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If you are not sensitive to dairy, or lactose intolerant, milk is a great source of calcium, choline, potassium, and vitamin D. There are other ways to obtain those nutrients, but milk contains all of them in one sip. Go for organic milk, which is more nutrient-dense than conventional milk.

Nuts

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Although nuts are high in calories and fat, the pros outweigh the cons. The biggest mistake people make is eating large amounts of nuts a day — the serving size should be just a handful. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, people who consume nuts are less likely to die from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.

Red Wine

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Do not be so quick to think that drinking wine every day will be your secret for solving all your health problems. Studies have shown that one glass of red wine — just five ounces — can boost your brain and heart health through the antioxidant resveratrol. Be careful, because drinking more than one glass of wine a day can cause weight gain.

Rice

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Whether people like to believe it or not, carbohydrates are needed as the main energy source for the human body. Rice, especially brown rice, fuels the body with whole grains, according to Chris Mohr. 

Salt

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Although it is more beneficial to flavor foods with fresh herbs and spices, it is harmful to eliminate salt from the diet completely. Mohr says, “The key here is earning salt, which you do by exercising and sweating.” Consuming more than moderate amounts of salt would only be advisable if you exercise often.

Soy

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Lactose intolerant? Don’t fear. Mohr says that soy is a quality source of protein, although it is important to aim for whole soy foods over processed soy powders and pills.