These foods have a bad reputation as unhealthy, but science tells a different story.
For some people, coming into adulthood means learning the truth about myths you always heard as a kid, like going outside with wet hair won't give you a cold or how egg yolks aren't bad for you (in fact, they're great for you).
Beyond egg yolks, plenty of other foods have been villainized over the years, whether it was by your parents growing up, your doctor, or even what you saw on TV and in movies. So many foods that we were once told to avoid are beneficial in terms of your health.
Find out which 15 foods you don't have to avoid.
Canned and frozen vegetables are often more inexpensive and last longer than you'll find in the produce section. However, some people think that they're not as nutritious because the veggies are canned or frozen. Research has shown that the canning process preserves nearly all the veggies' nutrients. Fat-soluble vitamins, protein, carbs, and fat should largely remain intact during the canning process, making canned vegetables a budget-friendly solution for when you can't buy fresh all the time. Canned vegetables contain more sodium since it's used as a preservative. When opting for canned vegetables, it's best to choose low-sodium canned veggies.
As for frozen vegetables, they're typically flash frozen at the peak of their nutrition, meaning that they retain more nutrients than fresh vegetables, which experience nutrient depletion as they spoil.
For the longest time, it was believed that egg yolks are harmful because they're high in cholesterol. The yolk of an egg is where you'll find the bulk of the cholesterol. However, studies show that dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol in the food you eat) does not necessarily impact serum cholesterol (the cholesterol in your bloodstream). Research has been mixed on what yolks will do to cholesterol, but the overwhelming conclusion is that consuming eggs regularly does not increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Eggs contain healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids) that help boost HDL (the good cholesterol) levels. It is more about what other foods you are eating with the eggs; for instance, eggs are often paired with processed meats such as bacon, which are high in sodium and saturated fats, which can increase blood pressure and LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels.
Many people steer clear of bread because it's high in carbs and doesn't offer much nutrition. Fiber- or grain-rich bread has more nutritional value and is sometimes lower in carbs. However, these breads tend to be more expensive. If it's within your budget to pick a higher-quality bread with better nutrients, that's great. It's best to choose breads with more than 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
Unless you have celiac or gluten sensitivity, there's no need to avoid eating gluten. This protein, which is found in wheat and some grains, can be digested by the body for most people, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. As long as you have no problems digesting gluten, it can benefit your body. Gluten has been linked to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and helping the cardiovascular system.
Potatoes are starchy, so many people steer clear of them. But potatoes also have a lot of good-for-you nutrients, according to the Mayo Clinic. They have potassium vitamins C and B6, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, folate and fiber -- as long as you're eating the skin. Much of a potato's nutrients will be found in the skin, so go ahead and eat the whole thing.
The research on chocolate is still mixed. There's a good chance you've seen that dark chocolate is beneficial for your health, but it is only better for you when compared to white chocolate because it contains flavanols, which have been linked to heart health. However, most chocolate contains sugar and saturated fats, not to mention calories. Enjoying chocolate in moderation will help you satisfy your desire for it without throwing off your healthy eating plan.
Here's what you have to remember about popcorn: It's not all created equally. There's a big difference between the popcorn you get at the movies and the popcorn you air pop at home. Air-popped popcorn is a great snack because it's whole grain. According to the American Heart Association, lightly seasoned air-popped popcorn is rich in fiber, which can help lower the risk of heart disease and other health issues. When you start adding a ton of butter or oil to the mix, you lower the nutrient quality of your popcorn.
Coconut oil is quite high in saturated fat, which means it can raise your LDL cholesterol -- in other words, the bad cholesterol. But what Harvard Medical School noted is that coconut oil also has the power to raise your HDL cholesterol right along with it, balancing your cholesterol levels out. That being said, because coconut oil is so high in saturated fat, it isn't something you want to reach for too frequently. Harvard Medical School suggests using it sparingly and rotating it with other nutrient-dense oils (like olive or avocado).
While keeping your sodium intake in check is important for your overall health, you still need to be taking in some sodium. Sodium helps your nervous system, muscular system and more -- so you do need it, but some assume that means table salt is not the way to go. You might have seen sea salt or kosher salt touted as a better alternative to table salt. But the American Heart Association pointed out that all of them have the same amount of sodium, so there's nothing better about sea salt than table salt. The recommended intake is 2,300 mg of sodium per day or less.
Once upon a time, coffee was linked to heart problems, whether because of caffeine or a lack of nutrients in the coffee itself. However, a 2021 paper at Harvard's School of Public Health implied that coffee could be a healthy part of your day. The new research said drinking coffee daily can "lower [the] likelihood of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver and endometrial cancers, Parkinson's disease, and depression." Just be mindful of the sweeteners and creamers you add to your coffee.
Avocados do have a lot of calories and fat, but it's good fat. Plus, avocados have plenty of other nutrients, according to the USDA. They're a good source of B5 but also contain other nutrients like potassium, vitamins E and K. If calories or a high level of fat are a concern, don't eat the whole avocado in one go. Though they can be tricky to preserve once they've been cut, you should be able to make it last for a day in the fridge, so you eat just half at a time.
Yes, nuts have fat in them, but that's why we like them -- it's good fat. According to Harvard Medical School, nuts are loaded with unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, and other nutrients (depending on which nut you're looking at). Some contain good amounts of vitamins B and E, folate and more. These make a great snack to tide you over between meals, because they have enough protein to satiate any hunger pangs. Nuts can be pricey, but you're getting a lot of value for your buck when you consider how nutritious they are and how far they can go with filling up your belly.
You've probably heard that white rice is empty calories because all the nutrition was removed when the grains were bleached. What you may not have heard is that white rice is packed with iron and B vitamins to bolster its nutritional value, according to the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center. While brown rice has more fiber, magnesium, and other nutrients, white rice shouldn't be shelved, especially because it's often cheaper to purchase. You'll still get nutrition from white rice.
Cheese has a lot of nutrients and shouldn't be wholly avoided. Even if you're lactose intolerant, there are some cheeses you can still eat! According to the National Dairy Council, cheese is a great source of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin A. Some cheeses are better nutrition-wise than others -- think fresh, unprocessed cheese rather than packaged cheese -- but you'll still get nutrition even with some of the more cost-efficient cheeses.
Pasta is another food viewed as carb-loaded and void of nutritional value. Refined pasta, which is most commonly consumed, has a limited amount of nutrition, but whole-grain pasta does. Studies have shown that whole-grain pasta has more nutritional value and can keep you fuller longer. This pasta, though, is usually more expensive than refined pasta. Packing your spaghetti dinner with some veggies or a salad can help make your whole meal more nutritionally sound and fill you with vitamins and minerals.