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'Bad' Foods That Are Really Good

5 much maligned foods are making a nutritional comeback.

Margarine vs. Butter: Which is Better? continued...

Lichtenstein says it's important to look at the sum total of both saturated and trans fats when selecting a spread for your toast, rather than focusing on one or the other.

But if you're a butter lover, Carter says you don't have to completely forsake butter due to nutritional concerns.

"I trained as a chef in France many years ago and believe that a little cooking oil and butter is one of the best flavors, so I can get by with a tablespoon of butter when I'm cooking to get the flavor," says Carter. "But you are not going to find sticks of butter on my table."

Salad Dressing: Pass the Oil, Please

Rather then wincing at the thought of putting a nonfat mystery dressing on your salad, experts say it may be better to go back to the basics with good old vinegar-and-oil-based dressings.

Most "light" commercial salad dressings contain a lot of extra ingredients such as sugar and salt. A healthier choice is to make your own vinaigrette with olive oil (a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats).

Carter says by splurging on flavorful, mild vinegars such as balsamic or sherry vinegar, or adding fresh herbs, you can cut down drastically on the amount of oil needed to make a tasty salad dressing.

Going Nuts Over Peanut Butter

Regardless of how you like it, chunky or smooth, all natural or straight from the plastic jar, researchers say peanut butter is a cheap and healthy source of protein.

Some concerns have been raised in the past that oils added to commercial peanut butters during production process may create unhealthy levels of trans fats. But recent studies have shown that most commercial peanut butters contain negligible levels of these potentially dangerous fats, and commercial and all-natural brands are pretty much equal when it comes to nutrition.

"My feeling as a nutritionist is that the major sources of damaging trans fats in your diet are going to be commercial cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and deep-fried foods, not peanut butter," says Carter.

Peanut butter is also a high-calorie food, so eating spoon after spoon of it isn't recommended -- two tablespoons is plenty. But nuts and nut butters such as peanut butter are rich sources of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish and vegetable oils.

They're also a good source of a variety of nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and vitamin E, which have the ability to protect the heart.

Eggs: Edible and Economical

Eggs have suffered from a serious image problem that began in the 1970s when they were vilified for their high cholesterol content. But now that researchers' understanding of heart disease and cholesterol's role in it has changed, so has their opinion of the egg.

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