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Carissa Ray  /  msnbc.com
Bananas contain a type of fiber that fills you up temporarily without filling you out permanently. But choose a greener one, before it turns completely yellow.
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updated 10/19/2011 8:12:02 AM ET 2011-10-19T12:12:02

Heidi's Klum's catchphrase -- "One day you're in, and the next day you're out" -- applies as much to food as it does fashion. Over the years, we've all had favorite eats hit the healthy-food blacklist, but thankfully, some of them are making a return. In fact, recent research has not only redeemed once-taboo foods such as steak, eggs (yolks included), and peanut butter but also found that when eaten in moderation, some of them may actually help you conquer the scale.

Guilt-Free Fast Food

EGGS

Then: Yolks were considered tiny cholesterol bombs.

Now: Numerous studies, including one in a 2011 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have debunked the link between eggs and heart disease. Although a single yolk contains nearly the recommended daily limit for dietary cholesterol, it is the most nutrient-rich part, packed with zinc, iron, vitamins A and D, and choline, which may help reduce breast-cancer risk. Plus, the yolk contains nearly half of an egg's hunger-quashing protein, which is why white-only omelets aren't as satisfying.

"Because you feel full, you're less likely to overeat later on," says Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, Ph.D., an associate professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Bring it back: A hardboiled egg makes a great snack with staying power -- and has only around 70 calories. Just beware fattening companions that often accompany eggs, such as butter, bacon, and cheese.

Snag More Energy with Healthy Breakfast Recipes

BANANAS

Then: Higher in calories than most fruits, bananas were considered carbs that packed on pounds.

Now: Bananas contain a type of dietary fiber known as resistant starch that your body can't absorb, so it fills you up temporarily without the risk of filling you out permanently. Other research has linked resistant starch to an increase in post-meal fat-burning, says Janine Higgins, Ph.D., nutrition research director at the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. One of the by-products of the unabsorbed carbohydrates in your system is butyrate, a fatty acid that may inhibit the body's ability to burn carbs, forcing it to incinerate fat instead.

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Bring it back: Choose a greener banana; once it has turned totally yellow, the starch inside has broken down and is no longer resistant to digestion. If you don't like to eat bananas when they're that firm, toss one into the blender for a hunger-dampening smoothie. And take a deep whiff before sipping it: Research from The Smell Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago shows that the smell of banana helps reduce appetite, so you may not want to eat as much anyway.

Hungry? Great 100-Calorie Options


COCONUT OIL

Then: Because it's high in saturated fat, coconut oil was demonized by dieters.

Now: Turns out, coconut oil is swimming in medium-chain triglycerides, fats that can be metabolized faster than the long-chain variety found in other oils like sunflower. "They're rarely stored as fat because the body prefers to use them for energy," says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. A 2009 study in Lipids found that supplementing women's diets with about two tablespoons of coconut oil per day fueled a reduction in abdominal obesity while helping elevate HDL (good) cholesterol levels. (Other studies have confirmed there is no negative impact on LDL cholesterol or blood pressure.)

Bring it back: Because coconut oil is calorie dense -- about 120 calories per tablespoon --you still want to watch how much you down. Bowden suggests swapping oils high in omega-6, like corn or vegetable, for virgin or extra-virgin coconut oil.

Enjoy The Health Benefits of These Oils

RED MEAT

Then: Beef had a reputation for contributing to heart disease and wide waistlines.

Now: New research suggests that saturated fat—at least in moderation—may not be the evil heart attacker it's been made out to be. And today you can buy cuts of meat that are leaner than what was available a decade ago. Red meat is a stellar source of satisfying protein, a known ally in weight management. "It requires more time and energy to digest and can help you gain metabolically active muscle, which burns more calories at rest than fat does," says Wendy Bazilian, D.P.H., R.D., author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet. Plus, particularly the grass-fed variety contains high concentrations of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is associated with a lower body-fat percentage. Early research indicates that CLA may disrupt enzymes that help deposit and store fat.

Bring it back: The cut of beef is the deciding factor. Extra-lean ones include top sirloin select, sirloin tip, top round, and eye of round roast. They all have fewer than five grams of total fat and two grams of saturated fat per three-ounce serving, but avoid anything labeled prime, which tends to be fatty. Shoot for a three-to four-ounce portion—the size of a BlackBerry—and grill, roast, or bake it (panfrying only soaks it in butter or oil).


PEANUT BUTTER

Then: This sandwich staple has been shunned as high-fat and high-cal.

Now: True, peanut butter contains 16 grams of fat per two-tablespoon serving, but it's the heart-healthy, monounsaturated kind. "Peanut butter helps with appetite regulation without your even trying," says Bazilian. "It's so nutrient dense that we simply end up consuming fewer calories overall." A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who remained on a diet that included peanut butter for 18 months lost an average of nine pounds.

Bring it back: Skip reduced-fat varieties, which are often heavily sweetened to compensate for missing flavor. Stick with natural PB with no added sweeteners and focus on portion control. If you can't be bothered to measure out two level tablespoons, buy individual packets (try Justin's) for 200 calories or fewer.

Protein-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

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© 2012 Rodale Inc. All rights reserved.

Video: Lose weight with foods you wouldn't expect

  1. Closed captioning of: Lose weight with foods you wouldn't expect

    >>> good news. some of your old favorite foods may be just what you need to help trim your waistline.

    >> keri glassman is a registered dietitian and contributor to "women's health" magazine. you're here with good news for us.

    >> i am. a lot of these foods have gotten many dirty looks over the years. i am here to tell you that they all have a place in your diet in moderation, of course.

    >> all right. egg yolks . people always say high cholesterol . be careful. you say what?

    >> exactly. an egg. 70 calories, 6 grams of protein. people turn their nose to them because of the cholesterol found in the yolk. the yolk is also aside from having the cholesterol packed with nutrients. iron. zinc. vitamins a and d. and choline, associated with a reduced risk for breast cancer and associated with brain health. i love eggs.

    >> bananas. you think of those as sort of high sugar. good for you.

    >> but full of potassium.

    >> there are full of potassium, full of nutrients. people say they're higher in calories and carbs than other fruits. a tiny bit higher than a medium apple. they have something called resistant starch . it's a type of fiber, like other fibers, is not absorbed. we don't get the calories but we get full. a by-product of that resistant starch may help burn fat. you need to eat bananas that are slightly green. firmer.

    >> oh.

    >> just make sure they haven't turned brown.

    >> not going to happen.

    >> okay. coconut oil also got dirty looks because of it being high in saturated fat . but it's a specific type of saturated fat called mcts. that type of fat is more readily used as fuel and less likely to be stored as fat. coconut oil is still a little controversial. however, research has also shown that when supplementing your diet with you, you may reduce abdominal obesity. i actually keep a jar of this coconut oil in my shower. i add it to moisturizer. i put it on my body.

    >> red meat .

    >> a lot of people won't eat it at all.

    >> if you don't eat red meat , you don't necessarily need to start adding it into your diet. if you do, there are lean options. top round. we know that. two grams of saturated fat for a small blackberry or iphone portion. grass-fed beef has something called cla. cla has also been associated with reduced risk of cancer and heart disease . and new research, so we have to keep our eyes open here on this, but new research also has associated with a reduced risk of -- reduced storage of fat.

    >> okay.

    >> that's really a problem.

    >> that really is.

    >> again, portion control .

    >> peanut butter . please. tell me it's good.

    >> you said you love your peanut butter . for overall health and for dieting, peanut butter is your best friend. loaded with -- just throw that back there. monosaturated fats. mono and saturated fatsy acids have also been associated with less belly fat . but it's so satisfying. two teaspoons with some celery for a snack or small apple or a banana. a green one.

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