Harder cheeses, like Gruyère, Gouda, Cheddar, and Parmesan are maturated for weeks, months, or even years, and this aging process allows them to develop good bacteria, which can help increase levels of beneficial short-chain fatty acids in the gut. Cheese is also a rich source of calcium, protein, vitamins, and minerals, making it a perfectly acceptable way to start or end a meal.
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In my opinion, Chinese take-out is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but this cuisine is often portrayed as greasy, salty, and caloric. However, there are plenty of guilt-free options to choose from, such as sweet and sour soup, chop suey, and even chicken and broccoli. The key to keeping Chinese take-out healthy is avoiding any of the deep-fried foods and caloric noodle dishes.
Nothing signifies a "guilty pleasure" better than chocolate. While not all chocolate is created equally, dark chocolate — with cacao contents of higher than 70 percent — has been found to contain beneficial antioxidants. It may also lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health.
Relative to other desserts like muffins, cakes, or doughnuts, ice cream isn’t all that bad for you. A half-cup of vanilla ice cream contains around 14 grams of sugar, 140 calories, and 7 grams of fat, which makes it a reasonable after-dinner indulgence. Full-fat dairy products have also been linked to increased chances of fertility, but as with all guilty pleasures, portion control is key.
Mashed potatoes with gravy epitomize guilty comfort food, but even this starchy side has redeeming health qualities. When the skins are left on, mashed potatoes can be a powerful source of vitamin C and potassium, and there’s no need to fear gravy — simply make your own with a quick roux (an even ratio of butter and flour) diluter with beef or chicken stock.
Our view of popcorn has been distorted by the butter-drenched, brightly colored kernels we see (and smell) at the movie theatre, but simple air-popped corn kernels can be a quick and healthy snack. A cup of air- popped popcorn contains only 30 calories, and even with the addition of a tablespoon of melted butter and a sprinkle of sea salt, popcorn is still less caloric than chips or pretzels.
Steak (along with other red meats) has been labeled by the World Health Organization as a “probable carcinogen,” but in moderation, steak can be an important source of protein, iron, and vitamin B12. A seared medium-rare steak is a healthier alternative to such processed meat products as hot-dogs or sausages because it doesn’t contain the added sodium or nitrates or other preservatives.
Maybe we assume they're bad for us because they can be purchased in the supermarket’s frozen food section, or are nearly always accompanied by rafts of butter and globs of syrup, but waffles can be healthy if prepared at home. A traditional waffle’s main ingredients of eggs, milk, and flour are nutritionally inoffensive. Waffles are therefore low in calories and fat if extra butter and syrup (not to mention the whipped cream that is sometimes added) are avoided.
Studies show that moderate wine consumption (which is defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines as one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men) can have numerous health benefits such as delaying the effects of aging, reducing the risk of breast cancer, and preventing dementia.