5 Healthy Junk Foods To Keep You Happy And Fit

By:    Published: March 21, 2012

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One of the main causes of obesity or just having a large belly is a person's incessant need to snack. Making matters worse, the types of snacks that are commonly sought are in the form of junk food. Whether you prefer munching on potato chips or platters of chocolate chip cookies, junk food is a guilty pleasure that most people share. Of course, healthier alternatives to snack foods are available, but most people will argue that an apple wedge isn't nearly as good as a handful of cheese puffs.

So, what can you do to satisfy your snacking needs without turning to junk food? Fortunately, you have the option of healthy junk foods. Yes, there are healthy junk foods out there; you just have to know where to look and how to properly read a nutrition label. Here are 5 for starters:

1. Beef Jerky

Most people think of beef jerky as being just as bad as a bag of potato chips, and rightfully so. After all, beef jerky can be purchased at virtually every gas station, and there is nothing healthy that comes out of those types of convenient stores. Plus, beef jerky is usually kept in the snack chips aisle, making them look even less healthy. Then there are all the preservatives that go into making beef jerky the way it is. However, a quick scan of the nutrition label will tell you that beef jerky is loaded with protein, which is exactly what you should be filling up on to make yourself full, fast. If you're worried about the high sodium content and MSG, just look for healthier, chemical-free versions of beef jerky. Turkey jerky is also a healthy option to beef jerky and packs almost the same taste.

2. Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is often considered a terrible junk food filled with sugar and saturated fat. However, it's becoming common knowledge that the dark variety of chocolate contains less of the sugar and fat, and even contains flavonoids, which is a useful antioxidant with multiple health benefits for your body. When shopping for the best dark chocolate bar for your health, look for the versions that have 70 percent cocoa and above.

3. Frozen Yogurt

With frozen yogurt, you can have something cold, creamy and sweet without having to feel as guilty as you normally would for eating a scoop of ice cream. Whether you're at a frozen yogurt shop, or buying some from the market, make sure you choose the low-fat variety. Many varieties of frozen yogurt contain probiotics, which can benefit your immune system, your digestive tract, and help those who are lactose intolerant.

4. Sweet Potato Fries

You would never expect to see fries on a healthy junk foods list, but the sweet potato version definitely has some potential health benefits worth noting. Just as long as they are cooked in a healthy oil and don't come with a side of ranch or maple syrup, sweet potato fries can benefit your body with high levels of vitamin A and fiber. Some studies even suggest that the beta-carotene found in sweet potatoes is a great antioxidant that can fight off numerous diseases, including cancer.

5. Pork Rinds

Just looking at a bag of pork grinds can make a person think about clogged arteries and heart disease. After all, a pork rind is made from pigskin, so it can't be healthy, right? Well, one look at the nutrition label might convince you otherwise. A regular serving of pork rinds contains way more protein than your average serving of potato chips. On top of that, according to Men's Health Magazine, 43 percent of the fat found in a pork rind is from unsaturated fat, most of it coming from oleic acid, which is a healthy fat that is also found in olive oil.

Bottom Line

Healthy junk foods are available to those willing to look hard enough. The key is to control the portions being eaten. You should also make sure to read the nutrition label to help you determine what junk foods are the healthiest options. Some junk foods, like pork rinds and beef jerky, are high in protein, which can make you feel full faster so you're less inclined to over eat. Remember, just because it is on this list, doesn't mean you can go to town on the food in question. Always practice proper portion control with any food you eat, junk food or not.

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