When it comes to food, it is the true healthy pleasures that are the diamonds in the rough. Knowing what to attach yourself to if that sweet tooth or salt craving takes over can be a key decision. If you are going to have a vice, why not pick one that is actually good for you? However, there have been so many changes in food production, quality and packaging that it is difficult to figure out what is beneficial. Below is a list of some highly ranked food and drink choices.
1. Yerba Mate’ Tea
Yerba mate’ (mah-tay) tea is derived from the boiled leaves of the yerba mate’ tree or shrub. The leaves hold a good amount of antioxidants as well as botanical caffeine. The difference between botanical caffeine and legume or bean caffeine is that the botanical choice is made up of something called xanthines. Xanthines are a combination of caffeine, theobromine and theophylline, which when ingested together offers a steady stream of energy. It does not spike or crash your system like coffee which is derived from beans. Yerba mate’ also has the minerals potassium, magnesium and manganese as well as cholesterol reducing properties and anti-obesity properties.
2. Protein Bars
Two of the best protein bars are the Organic Food Bar and Greens + Energy Bars. The Organic Food Bar has fourteen grams of protein which is about as much as two ounces of beef. It also has all organic ingredients like raisins, almond butter and flaxseed. Greens + Energy Bars hold ten grams of protein and include milk thistle (great for the liver), cold fighting echinacea and Hawaiian spirulina.
3. Nuts and Raisins
Although nuts may have a high fat content they do hold a fair amount of protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Raisins offer iron and complex sugar. Eating just a few handfuls of nuts and raisins over the course of a day can help aid in weight loss. This small amount will make you feel full enough to stave off unhealthy snacking and get you to your next meal. This combination also offers an energy boost that rivals caffeine. Stick to almonds, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and some pine nuts. It is best to eat unsalted nuts to avoid any unnecessary sodium.
4. Grape Juice
Many studies have shown that moderate consumption of red wine helps reduce cholesterol and strengthen the heart. Well, grape juice has similar properties. The American Dietetic Association cites grape juice as being high in antioxidants. The juice also reduces hypertension and may even stave off short term memory loss due to aging. Although this may be a vice beverage, one glass of grape juice a day is plenty given its high calorie intake. Look for unsweetened grape juice for the best results.
5. Dark Chocolate
It is fairly well known that dark chocolate can actually be good for you, but many people do not know why. It is the flavonoids in high cocoa dark chocolate that help protect the heart, reduce cholesterol, calm inflammation and release good-feeling serotonin in the brain.