Yes. You read correctly. There are "bad" foods out there that everyone should be eating.* These are foods that many of us commonly avoid thinking that we're doing ourselves a favor. But in fact they contain the very things that our bodies need to function properly.
- Bread - Hold the Wonder! But don't skip all bread because of the carbs. Replace refined grains with 100% whole wheat or whole grain breads. Research in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who eat more whole grains may live longer. I'm a big fan of Alvarado Street Bakery California Style Bread, which packs a healthy protein/carb combo that keeps you satisfied longer.
- Butter - Nut butter that is! Yes it's "fattening" because it's calorie dense. But it's the heart healthy unsaturated kind of fat and a little, just a tablespoon, goes a long way in satisfying hunger. Peanut butter provides protein, folate and vitamin B important for development of healthy cells. If you avoid peanuts then try almond butter, which contains high amounts of vitamin E.
- Chocolate - By far my favorite on this list. Dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron and magnesium; contains flavonols, which improve blood flow to the brain and aid cognitive function and memory. It's also rich in antioxidants, which are key to cardiovascular health.
- Eggs - Even the yolk! Commonly avoided because they're considered high in dietary cholesterol, experts now agree that saturated fats and trans fats are the real culprits in raising blood cholesterol, not dietary cholesterol. Egg yolks are vitamin-packed and have lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds linked to reducing age related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over 50.
- Beef - Typically taboo for those on low cholesterol diets, lean cuts of beef such as filet mignon, sirloin, strip steak and flank steak are low in fat and a good source of protein and iron.
- Tea and Coffee - Caffeine is a brain stimulant that helps boost mental clarity and alertness. Studies show that just 1-2 cups per day improves mental performance and slows age-related mental decline. Not a coffee drinker? Try green tea, which improves brain plasticity helpingour brains to learn faster.
- Red Wine - Don't like it? A glass of concord grape juice has the same benefits of polyphenols found in a glass of red wine. Polyphenols improve communication between brain cells, improve spacial memory and verbal learning skills. One glass a day helps increase blood flow, decrease inflammation and improve cognitive abilities.
- Fats - Our bodies need fat as a source of energy, for growth development and cell function. But not all fats are created equal. Seek out the good, heart-healthy, unsaturated kind like found in coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado and nuts. Yes they contain calories too. Use in moderation but don't skip it all together. .
Kick-start your day with my favorite quick and easy "bad" breakfast! Enjoy with coffee or tea for an added brain boost.
Egg & Avocado Toast
1 Tbsp shredded cheese
1/4 ripe avocado
1 slice whole grain bread, toasted
1 Tbsp salsa
Cook egg to desired doneness topping with cheese to melt. Mash avocado onto the toast. Top with egg and cheese then salsa. Enjoy!
*Sources: 56 Foods that Boost Your Brain Power by Dr. Will Mitchell and Bad Foods You Should Be Eating, Eating Well at eatingwell.com.