5 foods you shouldn’t give up

Are you struggling to cut back on your favourite foods? The good news is that a little of what you like might actually be better for your body.

To debunk the myths about the foods you like most - and to show some of their surprising health benefits - we've got expert advice from dietician Dr Sarah Schenker (sarahschenker.co.uk).

Discover the treats you can enjoy adding back onto your shopping list - and consuming in moderation - with our slideshow. 

Peanut butter

The Myth: A minute on the lips...

The Truth: Peanut butter is often thought of as a fattening no-no. In fact, recent research shows nuts can help to reduce or maintain weight due to their high satiety, which means you feel fuller for longer. As a result you're more likely to eat less (25-35 per cent less).

It also seems regular nut eaters have a higher background metabolic rate. This could be because nuts have a poor bioaccessability, so the body has to work harder to digest and absorb them. There's no need to avoid nuts just because of calorie count, just restrict yourself to a small portion to reap their rewards.   

How much can I eat? A dollop of peanut butter that's enough to spread on a piece of toast is the ideal portion. Or if you want to skip the butter, opt for a small handful of nuts.

Discover more healthy snacks for runners to get their fuel fix.

Beer

The Myth: Attack of the beer belly!

The Truth: If you stick to the recommended alcohol units - no more than three to four a day for a men or two to three for women - beer is a pretty healthy choice. It's another good source of antioxidants and as it's low in alcohol it has a less dehydrating effect. In fact, a pint of lager will usually result in a net gain of fluid rather than a net loss.

How much can I drink? No more than two pints standard strength lager per day for men, no more than one and a half for women (DH guidelines).

Find out more about the benefits of beer.

Red meat

The Myth: It's full of saturated fat and I'm trying to keep my heart healthy.

The Truth: Lean red meat is the best source of absorbable iron, which is needed to keep the blood healthy. Regular endurance runners can often be at risk of iron deficiency anaemia due to loss of iron stores. The iron in red meat is in a form which is readily absorbed and the fat and saturates content of a lean cut is only five per cent and three per cent respectively.

How much can I eat? Try to eat no more than 500g cooked weight per week (as recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund).

Find out why it's important to keep your iron levels topped up.

Coffee

The Myth: It's making me dehydrated!

The Truth: Coffee is commonly associated with caffeine, which in large doses can have some unpleasant side effects such as causing anxiety, irritability and mild dehydration. However, a moderate amount of coffee (up to four to five cups consumed throughout the day) is perfectly safe and can be positively beneficial due to the large amounts of antioxidants it contains which help keep the body's cells healthy.

How much can I drink? You can drink up to five cups a day, though if you have a lower caffeine tolerance stick to one or two cups.

Discover seven more reasons why you should stick with your coffee fix.

Chips

The Myth: They'll make my cholesterol levels rocket!

The Truth: It all depends on how you cook them; large cut, fresh chips, cooked quickly at the right temperature using a healthy oil can be good for you. Fresh potatoes are a good source of starchy carbohydrate as well as vitamin C, and cutting chips into chunkier sizes stops as much oil being absorbed.

Cooking them in rapeseed oil is a great idea because it's high in monounsaturated fats which can help to keep the heart healthy. Plus, getting the temperature of the oil high before cooking reduces the cooking time, and therefore the amount of nutrients that are destroyed.

How much can I eat? Best for an occasional treat - no more than once a week.

Discover more about checking the oils you cook with here.