Tailgate Foods With Surprising Health Benefits

It's that time of year. Everyone's making their plans for the big game. No matter where you go -- from your sister-in-law's to the university stadium parking lot -- fattening bites and calorie-packed brews abound. What's more, it's not like this is just one holiday where we indulge and immediately go back to being health-conscious. No, no -- it's an entire season during which we have many opportunities to pig out while cheering on our favorite team. Still, who says you can't enjoy everything in moderation? Especially when "bad" foods have hidden health benefits ...

  • Beer -- Knockin' back a couple of brewskies could be like medicine. OK, not quite, but a couple of bottles may serve as a potent health booster. Various research has shown that moderate beer drinking can stave off hypertension and heart disease and protect bone mineral density. Who knew?
  • Potato chips -- Although some are fried in tropical and partially hydrogenated oils that are high in scary saturated or trans fats, others (Kettle Chips, Sun Chips, Lay's to name a few) are fried in corn or sunflower oils that are rich in polyunsaturated fats, which can actually lower your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
  • Guacamole -- You may take a pass because the green stuff boasts 13 fat grams per 1/3 cup, but dismissing it altogether may be a mistake. Why? One little avocado has 20 grams of monounsaturated oleic acid, which has been shown to lower breast cancer risk! (I don't know about you, but I feel like having tacos tonight in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.)
  • Anything slathered in BBQ sauce -- The versatile condiment/marinade is often made with apple cider vinegar. Preliminary research shows that the folk-remedy ingredient can lower blood glucose and prevent diabetes. Of course, commercial BBQ sauces are often also packed with a gazillion different types of sugar, so your best bet might be to make a healthier homemade version.
  • Chili -- Once you've had a piping hot bowl of this, you'll probably be too full to stuff your face with much of anything else! Hence, built-in calorie control. You can thank the beans: Their invitation to the chili party means you're eating at least 10 grams of extremely filling fiber per serving.
What's your favorite tailgate food?

Image via Hector Alejandro/Flickr

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