Best of the Worst

Best of the Worst

Make no mistake—the following foods are not healthy. But if you're going to pick a food that's bad for you (and you will), these are among the best. Why? Because even though they're nutritional nightmares, each has some redeeming qualities that elevate it above most blow-out meals.

They're bad: Seven ounces of rib meat pack nearly 60 grams of fat, more than half your daily requirement.
But oh, so good: The bulk of that fat is the good monounsaturated kind, which helps to lower levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol while boosting levels of good HDL. A helping of ribs also supplies nearly half your daily zinc requirement—good for warding off impotence, clearing up your skin, and strengthening your immune system against illness.

They're bad: There's so much sodium in a single can of O's that just reading the nutrition label could raise your blood pressure.
But oh, so good: All that salt comes packed in tomato sauce—a good source of a cancer-fighting antioxidant called lycopene. A cup of SpaghettiO's also counts as a serving of both vegetables and grains. Plus, it's got three grams of fiber. (A good amount for canned food.)

chips and dip
They're bad: Tortilla chips are a trifecta of evil, loaded with hydrogenated trans-fatty acids, plus sodium and cholesterol.
But oh, so good: Thanks to the toppings. Pile on the guac, which contains hefty doses of fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as phytonutrients that can help protect against prostate cancer. Salsa is nearly all fresh tomatoes, and like guacamole, it's got lots of energy-boosting potassium and vitamin C.

Pecan pie
It's bad: Just look at it. Pecan pie is a gooey mass of sugar and fat. A single slice can set you back at least 500 calories and 27 grams of fat, even without the whipped cream on top.
But oh, so good: A Harvard study found that eating pecans and other nuts on a regular basis is very good for your heart, drastically reducing your risk of heart problems as you get older. It could be the combination of vitamin E, magnesium, and unsaturated fat in the nuts that protects the ticker.

double-fudge chocolate ice cream
It's bad: Premium ice cream contains the most fat (which is why it tastes the best).
But oh, so good: It also contains the purest levels of chocolate. Studies show that chocolate contains phenylethylamine plus cannabinoids, two chemicals that leave you with a feel-good high similar to what you get from smoking pot. And much of the fat in the ice cream is stearic acid, a type of saturated fat that doesn't alter cholesterol levels.

Chicken nuggets
They're bad: Nuggets contain nearly twice the calories, three times the fat, and six times the sodium of roasted white-meat chicken.
But oh, so good: They're also a tasty, convenient source of protein. Just four nuggets pack 18 grams of protein, a hefty amount considering most guys who work out need more than 80 grams of protein a day.

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