Junk Food with Health Benefits

Discover which junk foods have some surprising health benefits-and deserve the occasional splurge in your healthy diet plan.

Cheese Whiz
Trans fats are generally a dietary no-no. But one natural trans fat, known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), is an exception; it actually has anti-cancer attributes. Cheese Whiz turns out to have more of this cancer-fighting compound than any regular cheese, according to research.

Blue M&Ms
Food dyes aren't the first thing you think of when you think about health. But bizarrely, the blue food dye found in M&Ms (and Gatorade) could be helpful in reducing damage caused by spine injuries, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that when they injected the compound Brilliant Blue G (BBG) into rats suffering spinal cord injuries, it sped up their recovery and ability to walk.

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Butter has become a bad word for many diet-conscious folks, but it has redeeming qualities. Studies actually show that the fat in butter helps our bodies better absorb vitamins, like vitamins A, D, E, and K. So let this creamy, rich toast-topper back into your life! Opt for whipped butter to save on calories without sacrificing taste.

Pork Rinds
It's probably the ultimate down-home, guilty pleasure, but a 1-ounce serving of pork rinds provides a whopping 17 grams of protein-nine times the protein in a serving of regular potato chips. And most of the puffy snack's fat is oleic acid, which is the same healthy fat you'll find in olive oil. Another fat found in pork rinds, stearic acid, is a type of saturated fat that doesn't raise blood cholesterol levels.

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Think red wine's the only healthy tipple? Think again. Beer may not seem like a healthy drink, but in moderation-a serving or two, each clocking in around 150 or 175 calories-it actually is. The antioxidant levels in beer are equivalent to that of wine; barley and hops just happen to contain different flavonoids than grapes. And beer's a significant source of silicon, a key ingredient for increasing bone mineral density.

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