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Over & Under Hyped Health Foods

Today, we re Getting the Skinny on three foods that have been given more hype than they deserve, and three less glamorous options that are well worth adding to your diet.

Regardless of what you read or see on TV, most foods just don’t live up to the hype of being a “perfect diet food,” “superfood,” or any other “best of” category.

They may provide beneficial nutrients, but also unwanted calories, carbs, and/or sugars.  And there are often other options that provide the same (or better) nutritional value.

 

3 foods that get more than their fair share of hype:

BANANAS       

Bananas are high in potassium (487 mg per 120-calorie banana) but they’re not necessarily the best, nor the lowest calorie source of potassium.

Cantaloupe: 473 mg of potassium per 60-calorie cup

Cooked spinach: 840 mg per 40-calorie cup

Portobello mushroom:  630 mg & 40 calories

Fish, scallops and pork loin: 450 to 550 mg of potassium per six-ounce serving.

 

CHEERIOS

NIH recommends 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber daily to reduce LDL levels.

A one-cup serving of Cheerios has just one gram of soluble fiber.

Better bets:

Kellogg’s All-Bran Bran Buds (4.5 grams of soluble fiber per half-cup)

Beans or lentils (4 to 6 grams of soluble fiber per cup)

Ground psyllium (main ingredient in original Metamucil): 6 grams soluble fiber per tbsp.

 

QUINOA

Quinoa is touted for its high protein, fiber and iron content.

Per cup:  220 calories, 40 grams carb, 5 grams fiber, 8 grams of protein, 15% DV for iron

Black beans: Same calories, 2x the protein, 3x the fiber, and ~30 percent more iron.

Spinach (cooked): cup for cup, more than twice as much iron as quinoa, for a 40 calories.

Plain Greek yogurt: 23 grams of protein per 140-calorie cup

Fish (3 oz): 21 grams of protein for 100-120 calories

…and 3 that don’t get enough attention:

 

RED BEANS

Per cup:

12 grams fiber, >50% more potassium than a banana (717 mg), 22% DV for iron, 58% DV for folate

Ounce-for-ounce, red beans have a higher concentration of antioxidants than the same amount of blackberries, garlic, raspberries, blueberries or almonds.

 

PECANS                                  

Almonds and walnuts tend to get most of the glory, but pecans actually have the highest total antioxidant content of all types of nuts.

 

EGGS

Egg yolks a top food source of choline, a necessary brain function and fat metabolism

The yolk is also a good source of vitamin B12, as well as lutein and xeaxanthin, antioxidants that are linked to a reduction in age-related macular degeneration.

Eggs low in saturated fat (1.5 grams per large egg, less than a tablespoon of olive oil)

The American Heart Association says that we can have one yolk a day, as long as we limit our intake of other cholesterol-containing foods.