Why you think they’re bad: These puffy snacks are literally cut from pigskin. Then they’re deep-fried.
Why they’re not: A 1-ounce serving contains zero carbohydrates, 17 grams (g) of protein, and 9 g fat. That’s nine times the protein and less fat than you’ll find in a serving of carb-packed potato chips. Even better, 43 percent of a pork rind’s fat is unsaturated, and most of that is oleic acid the same healthy fat found in olive oil. Another 13 percent of its fat content is stearic acid, a type of saturated fat that’s considered harmless, because it doesn’t raise cholesterol levels.
Eat this: J&J Critters Microwave Pork Rinds ($6.50 for a 10-ounce container; microwaveporkrinds.com). Because the rinds are cooked and puffed in a microwave instead of deep-fried, each serving contains only 4 g fat meaning they’re lower in calories and less greasy than regular pork rinds.
Why you think it’s bad: It’s unhealthy meat that’s loaded with preservatives.
Why it’s not: Beef jerky is high in protein and doesn’t raise your level of insulin a hormone that signals your body to store fat. That makes it an ideal between-meals snack, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. And while some beef-jerky brands are packed with high-sodium ingredients, such as MSG and sodium nitrate, chemical-free products are available. If you have high blood pressure, check the label for brands that are made from all-natural ingredients, which reduce the total sodium content.
Eat this: Gourmet Natural Beef Jerky (available at americangrassfedbeef.com). It has no preservatives and is made from lean, grass-fed beef. Research shows that, unlike grain-fed products, grass-fed beef contains the same healthy omega-3 fats found in fish.