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Good for You Surprises You Can Add to Your Diet Today

Aug 17, 2007
We've all been told (or told someone else) that finishing all your veggies or eating fresh fruit every day is a good way to keep your body healthy and fit. But there are some other surprising foods (drinks too) that we can add to our diet that bring impressive health benefits, and (in moderation, of course) might just help us reach our weight loss goals.

Here are the five, good for your surprises:

1. Tea - 3 cups per day of any type that comes from the leaves of the plant Carnellia sinensis, which includes black, green, white and oolong varieties. There is strong evidence that tea might just reduce your risk of heart disease, and offer other less researched benefits such as protection from cancer and cutting your risk of Alzheimer's disease. Tea appears to have a type of flavonoid from that same family of antioxidants found in fruits, veggies and red wine. To get the most out of your cup of tea, make it strong and steep it a good long time-but if you're watching your weight, keep an eye on the milk and sugar you add to your cup.

2. Dark Chocolate - a little goes a long way, but just like tea, this delicious treat is believed to have an ample supply of the same flavonoids in red wine, fruits and veggies. Small amounts of dark chocolate have been shown to improve blood vessel flow, and may stabilize blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, thus reducing the risk of diabetes. Choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa so you get more of these healthy antioxidants, and fewer calories from the milk and sugars used to make milk or white chocolate.

3. Fatty Fish - two servings per week of fish such as salmon, trout, herring, tuna, sardines or mackerel. These fish are rich in omega - 3 fatty acids, shown to reduce cholesterol, which helps to keep clots from forming and causing heat attacks. The research is so compelling that the American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish on a regular basis. Be sure you choose grilled or broiled recipes as frying removes many of the beneficial substances in the fish and replaces them with calories and saturated fats.

4. Coffee - despite its bad rap, used in moderation, your first cup of morning coffee may have health benefits you haven't heard about - including stimulating the brain and nervous system as well as lowering your risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, mood disorders and headaches. Coffee has a compound from the antioxidant family and is a good source of magnesium, both are believed to help improve sugar metabolism, help with insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. And while black coffee is a tasty zero calorie drink, adding cream, sugar, or other toppings adds calories that you might not want.

5. Avocados - even though these fruits are full of fat, most of it is the heart healthy monounsaturated kind that is believed to lower cholesterol. Avocados have carotenoids, vitamin E and potassium, plus fiber to fill you up. Be aware though, that just because the fats are "good" ones, they still add calories if you aren't careful about portions. Slice them onto salads, add them to a soup or spread them on bread to keep the potion sizes under control while still getting all the taste and health benefits too.

Adding one or more of these surprisingly healthy options is a great way to improve a diet that could use some help, or boost the healthfulness of one that's already on the right track. Along with regular exercise, eating a balanced and nutritious diet is still one of the best ways to maintain your weight and your health.
About the Author
Valerie Slaughter, a veteran marathoner herself, runs a beginner marathon website and is the author of "You Want to Do What!?" For articles, tips and more information about how to stay fit, healthy and lose weight, visit: http://healthandfitnessnut.wordpress.com
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