wedge salad

No need to feel guilty when you eat that blue cheese wedge salad with bacon at your favorite steakhouse any more. It contains three of our sneaky health foods you only thought were bad for you! (Bacon, iceberg lettuce and full-fat cheese!)

Bacon

Loved by many, maligned by many more. It turns out bacon isn’t all that bad for you. In fact, almost half of the fat in bacon is monounsaturated oleic acid—the same good fat found in olive oil that can actually help reduce bad cholesterol. Of course, moderation is key here, but it may mean you can bring bacon back to the table.

Iceberg Lettuce

The iceberg has gotten a bad rap lately, often ending up in sentences like, “about as much nutrition as a leaf of iceberg lettuce.” We’ve had it so ingrained in our brains that if you’re anything like me, you automatically reach for the Romain and the spinach in the produce department or at the salad bar. But, it turns out, iceberg lettuce has nearly twice as much of the powerful antioxidant alpha-carotene than either romaine lettuce or spinach.

Pork Chops

A lot of us picture greasy fried cutlets (or the little girl from the Shake ‘N Bake commercials) when we think of pork chops, but pork chops contain almost five times the selenium, which has been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer, as beef or chicken. Plus, researchers at Purdue University found that a six ounce serving of pork a day helped dieters maintain muscle while losing weight.

Full-Fat Dairy

Ditch the skim milk; it turns out that saturated milk fats help us absorb calcium better, which is a major issue for women. In addition, full-fat cheese has high levels of casein protein, which is essential for building muscles. Several studies have linked moderate servings of full-fat dairy products to people who manage to lose weight and keep it off over a long period of time.

Leeks

This inconspicuous veggie doesn’t particularly look like a fiber powerhouse, but it is. In fact, one medium leek contains more fiber than a bran muffin, as well as plenty of antioxidants, folic acid and iron that the muffin couldn’t even dream about. Don’t have a lot of leek recipes in your repertoire? Try replacing celery with leeks in any stock or stew.

Vinegar

This piquant condiment could actually help regulate your blood sugar. Researchers in Sweden found that when people ate two tablespoons of vinegar with a high-carb meal, they felt fuller and their blood sugar was 23 percent lower than when they didn’t have the vinegar. Pour it on!

Image: neil conway