7 "Unhealthy" Foods That Are Actually Great for You

Before you bid farewell to bread, read this.

Seems we're always hearing about healthy foods that turn out to be actually full of sugar or fat. (Looking at you, cold-pressed juice.) So how about a list of foods that get an undeserved bad rap in the health department? Once something has a reputation for being "bad for you," it's hard to make a comeback—no matter how many scientific studies contradict previous claims. Here, we consulted four registered dietitians to get the lowdown on the top products, dishes, and food groups that merit a healthy rebrand.

01 of 07


The old thinking among nutritionists was that eggs were high in fat and cholesterol, which could negatively impact your heart health. We know better now. "Eggs contain fat, yes, but not at a worrisome level—and some of that fat is good fat," explains Alexandra Lewis, RD, LDN. "And though eggs contain cholesterol, we now understand that cholesterol in food is not directly associated with cholesterol levels in your blood." Perhaps most importantly, eggs are filled with plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals. So skip the egg white omelet and go for the real deal. Your taste buds will thank you, too.

RELATED: 9 Eye-Opening Inaccuracies You Probably Believe About Eating Eggs

02 of 07

Frozen foods

When we think of frozen foods, our minds typically go right to frozen pizza, ice cream, or your grandmother's TV dinners. But the frozen food industry has come a long way, especially in the produce department. Fruits and vegetables are flash frozen when they've reached peak ripeness—and when their nutrient content is highest. This means you'll get the most bang for your buck when it comes to vitamins and minerals.

"I love using steam-in-the-bag frozen veggies as a side dish, frozen berries on my oatmeal, and the occasional frozen meal for my lunch," Lewis says. Just a few of the great brands on the market include Luvo, Evol, Amy's, Good Food Made Simple, Kashi, Saffron Road, and Love the Wild.

Just watch out for high sodium levels, particularly in vegetables packed with special sauces and other add-ons. "If you're looking for a little kick and flavor, your best bet are those that are lightly seasoned with herbs and spices," says Jennifer Patzkowsky, MS, RDN/LDN.

03 of 07


While consuming too much can definitely have some negative side effects—rapid heartbeat, sweating, diarrhea, constipation—coffee in moderation has actually been shown to be beneficial to our health in most cases. According to Juliana Dewsnap, RD, LDN, CPT, coffee contains several essential B vitamins and has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. One word of caution, though: What you put in coffee—sugary syrups, MCT oil, and butter—can have detrimental effects.

04 of 07


Bread, starchy vegetables, oats, and so on are often considered suspect for being high in carbohydrates. "However, your organs—particularly your brain, kidneys, and muscles—need carbohydrates to function properly," explains Dewsnap. Besides the fact that your body burns energy from carbohydrates more efficiently than any other macronutrient, these foods contain that supremely important nutrient, fiber. We need fiber in our diets to regulate digestion and provide a feeling of fullness that we might not get from a high-fat, high-protein diet.

RELATED: This Is the Healthiest Type Of Bread, According to a Registered Dietitian

05 of 07


Boy, does gluten get a bad rap. Seems like a "gluten-free" label is a badge of honor these days. It's also often lumped in with highly-processed carbohydrates like white bread and pasta. But gluten isn't evil—it's just a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that gives dough its structure and stretch. Using whole-grain versions of products that contain these grains is an incredibly healthy decision—and these products are usually a lot less processed than their gluten-free counterparts.

"Only those who have celiac disease, a wheat allergy, or a gluten intolerance experience a negative health impact from eating gluten," says Rachel Caine, MS, RD, LDN. So if that's not you, go ahead and fill up on fiber-rich, whole-grain pasta and bread.

06 of 07


While not all dairy products are created equal—think Greek yogurt v. ice cream—dairy is generally quite healthy overall. Dairy typically contains many important nutrients like vitamin D, magnesium, and potassium. It can also be a good source of protein. "Even people who are lactose intolerant can enjoy and healthfully tolerate certain types of dairy, particularly fermented or aged products such as kefir, aged cheese, or yogurt," says Caine. (Keep in mind that lactose intolerance and dairy allergies are two very different things. This does not apply to those contending with a dairy allergy.)

Based on extensive research on the health effects of dairy, most nutritionists agree that when consumed in moderation, dairy can help with weight loss, muscle gain, cardiovascular disease prevention, and bone health.

07 of 07

Canned Fruits and Vegetables

Like frozen fruits and vegetables, the canned variety are also picked and harvested at their ripest form and immediately sent to a processing facility. According to Patzkowsky, canned foods can be a convenient addition to your diet and are better for you than many other snacks, as long as you avoid those packed with salt and sugar.

RELATED: 6 Things You Eat Every Day That Are Probably Expired

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles