photo of fried egg close up
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Eggs

Eggs have lots of protein and other good-for-you nutrients. But what about all that cholesterol? A single egg has more than 400 milligrams. Even so, there’s little evidence that eating eggs ups your risk for heart disease or stroke. One egg a day is probably OK. Just pay attention to the amount of saturated and trans fats you eat. That’s what raises cholesterol. 

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photo of friends drinking coffee
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Coffee

Many people like to jumpstart the day with a fresh cup of coffee. It doesn’t raise your risk of cancer or heart disease (but research shows unfiltered, or French press, coffee may raise cholesterol). It might even have benefits, like curbing your appetite and lowering the risk of certain conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and gallstones. Up to five cups of coffee a day is OK if the caffeine doesn’t bother you, you’re not pregnant, and you're not loading it with cream, sugar, or syrups.  

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photo of pieces of dark chocolate
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Chocolate

Is that milk chocolate candy bar good for you? No. But dark chocolate is a little better. It has antioxidants. And there’s evidence it can help with heart health, diabetes, brain function, and more. But be sure to read the label. These benefits don’t apply unless the chocolate is at least 70% cacao.

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photo of couple preparing dinner with red wine
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Red Wine

Red wine contains heart-healthy resveratrol. So do grapes, apples, raspberries, and other fruits. But the amount of resveratrol you get from the occasional or even daily glass of wine isn’t enough to make any real difference to your health. It’s fine to drink red wine in moderation if you enjoy it. But if you don’t already, there’s no need to start. Keep in mind that drinking too much alcohol, even red wine, isn’t healthy.

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photo of strips of lean steak
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Red Meat

A small steak has more than 40 grams of protein along with nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B12. But it also has a good bit of saturated fat and cholesterol. There’s evidence that red meat comes with a greater risk for stroke, heart disease, and some cancers. Processed meats like sausage, bacon, and salami are especially unhealthy. Limit red meat to about 12 to 18 ounces per week. Choose leaner cuts and avoid processed versions.

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photo of loaf of whole wheat bread
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Bread

The whole grains in bread can be a good source of nutrition and fiber. They also lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other conditions. But most packaged breads don’t have much, if any. One clue the grains are refined and not whole is if the package says “enriched.” Experts recommend that at least half the grains you eat come from whole grains.

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photo of serving salad at outdoor dinner table
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Salad

It’s best to choose dark leafy greens over iceberg lettuce. Avoid things like croutons or wonton strips. Dress your salad with vinegar (or lemon juice) and heart-healthy olive oil instead of high-fat ranch or other creamy condiments.

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photo of pan of roasted potatoes
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Potatoes

They don’t seem like health food. But potatoes are actually a good source of low-fat carbohydrate energy with some protein. They have plenty of vitamins including vitamin C and potassium. And the skin is a great source of fiber. Sweet potatoes are even better with four times your daily vitamin A. But watch how you cook and top them. A baked or roasted potato is a better choice than fries.

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photo of woman eating protein
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Protein Bars

They’re a good source of protein. But beware of added sugar, salt, and fat. Processed and packaged foods generally aren’t as good for you as whole foods. If you eat well for the most part, chances are you don’t really need the extra protein. Read the label to help you decide if your bar is truly healthy. If you’re not sure, try a handful of nuts instead.

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photo of friends drinking coffee
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Orange Juice

Orange juice has lots of vitamin C and potassium. Some orange juices also have added calcium. But fruit juices can have as much sugar as soda. It’s OK to drink them in moderation. But it’s even better to eat whole fruits, which have the fiber that’s missing in juice. Eat an orange or blend one into a smoothie instead.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 03/24/2021 Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on March 24, 2021

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SOURCES:

American Heart Association: “Are eggs good for you or not?”

Public Health Nutrition: “The effect of egg consumption on cardiometabolic health outcomes: an umbrella review,” “Findings from What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011-2014 support salad consumption as an

effective strategy for improving adherence to dietary recommendations.”

Harvard Health: “Are eggs risky for heart health?” "Are protein bars really just candy bars in disguise?” “Pressed coffee is going mainstream — but should you drink it?”

USDA Food Data Central: “Eggs, Grade A, Large, egg whole,” “Beef steak, braised, NS as to fat eaten,” “Potatoes, raw, skin,” “Protein Bar,” “Orange Juice.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Why You Should No Longer Worry About Cholesterol in Food,” “8 Steps to Make The Healthiest, Most Delicious Salads Ever,” “White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes: Which Are Healthier?”

New England Journal of Medicine: “Coffee, Caffeine, and Health.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “The Benefits of Having a Healthy Relationship with Chocolate.”

American Cancer Society: “Is Chocolate Good for You?”

Mayo Clinic: “Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?” “Is juicing healthier than eating whole fruits or vegetables?”

Advances in Nutrition: “Resveratrol: How Much Wine Do You Have to Drink to Stay Healthy?” “Review of 100% Fruit Juice and Chronic Health Conditions: Implications for Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Policy.”

Journal of Internal Medicine: "Potential health hazards of eating red meat.”

American Institute for Cancer Research: “Limit Consumption of Red and Processed Meat.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture My Plate: “Grains,” “Vegetables."

BMJ: “Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.”

Critical Review Food Science Nutrition: “Potatoes and human health.”

Current Obesity Report: “Ultra-processed Food Intake and Obesity: What Really Matters for Health-Processing or Nutrient Content?”

Journal of the American Dietetic Association: “Position of the American Dietetic Association: total diet approach to communicating food and nutrition information.”
 

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on March 24, 2021

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.