High in calories and, excepting the beer, in fat, these five foods might seem more destined for your “use sparingly” list. These foods may not be good for everyone, especially in excess, but studies say they have surprising health benefits that you may not know about.
1. Nut Butters and Type 2 Diabetes
It’s delicious on anything – from a sandwich to an apple to by itself by the spoonful – but as it turns out, peanut butter (or the nut butter of your choice) is good for more than just giving your snack or meal a little protein boost. According to a 2002 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, peanut butter can also help reduce women’s chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 30 percent. When consumed five or more times a week in one-ounce serving sizes (one ounce equals about two tablespoons), researchers saw an inverse association with the risk of Type 2 diabetes in participants. So go ahead and add some nut butter or peanut butter to your regular afternoon snack, or mix a spoonful or two into your morning oatmeal or smoothie. It’s for your health!
2. Beer and Kidney Stones
Cheers! Beer may help reduce the risk of developing kidney stones by up to 40 percent! A 1999 Finnish study among 27,001 men found an inverse association between beer and the risk of kidney stones. Each bottle of beer consumed per day was estimated to reduce kidney stone risk by 40 percent, in fact. So the next time you are on the fence about that beer on, say, a Wednesday evening, go ahead and drink up.
3. Chocolate and Cardiovascular Issues
Good news, chocoholics – a 2015 study published in the BMJ journal, Heart, found that habitual chocolate consumption in both men and women showed that “cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events.” The study went on to mention that there’s no evidence that individuals worried about cardiovascular risk should be worried about avoiding chocolate.
4. Pizza and Digestive Tract Cancers
An Italian study, released in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention in 2004, revealed that pizza may be linked to a reduced risk of developing digestive tract cancers. Now, before you get TOO excited to up your Domino’s orders to thrice weekly, it’s worth mentioning that this study applies specifically to Italian-style pizza made in Italy and consumed by Italians (who eat the dish frequently). But still, I maintain that this is good news for pizza lovers.
5. Dairy, Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels
A study that encourages cheese consumption? Yes, please. This 2013 Canadian Science Publishing study found that individuals who ate two and a half servings of dairy (a mixture of low- and full-fat versions) each day presented with lower blood pressure and blood sugar than individuals who didn’t meet those daily dairy requirements. Men who ate dairy also weighed less than those who didn’t. Cheese and crackers, anyone?
Anna Keller likes the occasional fancy, over-the-top meal served on a white tablecloth, but will be just a happy with dinner from Taco Bell (she and her husband were there the day they launched their new breakfast menu.). For her, food is about the experience, the story, the tradition, and the community it provides, and it takes a starring role in her blog, where she shares recipe creations and recreations—usually of the baking variety.
Photos by 1. Cliff Hutson CC BY, 2. Jarbro CC BY, 3. John Hritz CC BY, 4. Edsel Little CC BY-ND, 5. Steven Lilley CC BY-ND. Header photo by Quinn Dombrowski CC BY-SA.