We all want to eat healthier foods, but let's face it, eating well can sometimes feel boring and restrictive. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Lots of foods are good for you, despite popular thinking to the contrary. From egg yolks to bananas, foods that may carry negative connotations actually pack a healthy punch.
We turned to New York City registered dietician Sharon Richter to help us compile this list of the tastiest and most shocking healthy foods. Enjoy!
Nuts do contain fat, but it's the good kind of fat, Richter says. Unsaturated fatty acids are naturally occurring in all types of nuts. If you are trying to eat a heart-healthy diet, you should eat nuts because they can actually lower LDL, or "bad" cholesterol levels in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids are also present in a lot of nuts, which is also good for your heart health. Omega-3's are found in some fish, but if you're looking for a plant-based alternative, nuts are the best bet. Some nuts have even been shown to help with weight loss. (Credit: FLICKR/ Steve Parker)
Got extra fruits lying around or want to stock up on your favorites when their season is up? Freeze them! They're just as good for you frozen, too, says Richter, because the nutrients are retained. Frozen fruits bought at the store are frozen just after harvest so they too retain high levels of vitamins and antioxidants, she says. (Credit: FLICKR/ cre@!v!ty-busy-)
Parsley is not just a pretty decoration for your plate - it can help fight bad breath and contains antioxidants as well as vitamin K, vitamin C and folic acid, one of the most important B vitamins that plays a critical role in relation to cardiovascular health. (Credit: FLICKR/ Madly in love with life)
Caffeine is never considered good for your health, but the leaves that are used to brew black, green, white, and oolong teas all contain antioxidant polyphenols, which are said to have cancer-fighting properties. (Credit: FLICKR/ Boris Mann)
Egg yolks contain a lot of positive nutrients, including choline, which is good for the brain, says Richter. And while the yolks themselves are high in cholesterol, some studies have shown that eating egg yolks can actually increase HDL levels, the heart-positive "good" cholesterol. (Credit: FLICKR/ Rob W)
Cinnamon is a delicious flavoring for desserts and foods, without the sugar and fat, but it's also been shown to possibly help control insulin levels, making it potentially beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. It is also high in certain nutrients, including manganese, fiber, iron and calcium. (Credit: FLICKR/ Dennis Wilkinson)
Richter says calves liver, ounce for ounce, is the most nutrient dense food there is. Although it is a high source of cholesterol, and should be eaten in moderation, it is loaded with zinc and vitamin A, which help keep your immune system strong. It is also rich in vitamin D (for strong bones and teeth) and Omega-3 fatty acids. (Credit: FLICKR/ Renee Suen)
Bananas are starchy, and are thus considered by dieters to be the enemy, but they are filled with nutrients such as potassium, says Richter. Bananas are also a great source of natural energy, thanks to high levels of vitamin A, iron and phosphorous. (Credit: FLICKR/ Ian Ransley)
Don't feel guilty about eating pumpkin pie because the fall favorite is a low-calorie food and is loaded with potassium and beta-cryptoxanthin, a pro-Vitamin A carotenoid, which has been shown to reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Potassium is an essential mineral that we need to keep our muscles working at an optimal level. And don't skip the seeds: they are loaded with antioxidants and fiber. (Credit: FLICKR/ Corey Harmon)
Instead of using butter on toast, choose apple butter instead, Richter suggests. It's not fatty, and contains soluble fiber, which may help lower cholesterol levels. Fiber also helps with digestion, Richter says. (Credit: FLICKR/ Sarah Braun)