Your dietary choices should be based on personal health goals and taste, not a set calorie number.
According to Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, including an appropriate number of calories in your diet is important if your goal is weight maintenance or loss.
“But even in a well-balanced and proportioned daily diet, there is certainly room to enjoy favorite treats, high-calorie or otherwise,” she says.
Balancing your calorie range and overall nutrition is a delicate dietary dance – you need to consider the full scope of your diet to make the best choices. Having said that, here are some healthy foods you shouldn’t shy away from just because of their calorie count.
Nuts and Nut Butter
Foods that are higher in fat tend to be higher in calories, too, and nuts are a good example. A gram of fat is nine calories; a gram of protein or carbohydrate is only four, says Malkani.
Both nuts and nut butter are excellent, health-conscious options due to their protein, fiber, and healthy fat content, as well as all the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats in nuts and seeds are associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, too.
And unlike calorie-heavy but nutrient-insufficient snacks like chips and cookies, the protein in nuts makes you feel full for longer; this is why studies on nuts link weight loss and weight gain prevention to the food.
Olive oil is a strong source of monounsaturated fats, which could lower the risk of heart disease. It also provides, high omega-6, omega-3, vitamin E, and vitamin K content, too.
Olive oil has also been shown to benefit the body in other ways, from healthy weight management to even brain function. Be sure to use 100 percent extra-virgin olive oil, and avoid cheaper, diluted alternatives.
Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and other healthy nutrients; it’s rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, and a few other minerals.
All these healthy bits in dark chocolate improve brain function, reduce heart disease risk, and improve blood pressure.
Much like olive oil, the better the quality, the better the benefits. So, opt for dark chocolate with 70 percent or more cocoa.
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