Sick of being shamed for eating what some call "Junk Food"? Yeah, it gets tiresome what with all the taboo about preservatives, trans fat, artificial sweetners, colors, flavors, etc. This list goes on... Well, next time you find yourself enjoying some pork rinds and someone starts hassling you to eat a carrot instead, you have cause to retort and defend yourself.

Junk Food That Isn't All That Bad For You:

Beef Jerky

We said it's healthy, not visually appealing.

What your health-nut friends will say: "Beef jerky is just dried meat full of preservatives. Yuck."

What it actually is: All natural beef jerky(available at americangrassfedbeef.com) has no preservatives and is high in protein. Also, jerky doesn't raise your level of insulin — a hormone that signals your body to store fat. In this sense, it is the perfect between-meal munch, espeically for those trying to lose weight. The all-natural stuff, too, is made from lean, grass-fed beef and contains healthy omega-3 fats found in fish. Mmm.

Alcohol

What your health-nut friends will say: "Booze is empty calories and you'll just develop a beer gut."

What it actually is: Hooch, booze, liquor, alkyhol, call it what you will. But don't call it unhealthy. Harvard scientists, in a study of 18,000+ men, discovered those who had about 2 drinks a day, 5 - 7 days a week, had the lowest risk of heart attack. If that's not enough, University of Buffalo researchers found these men also had less abdominal fat than those who drink only once or twice every 2 weeks but down more than four drinks each time. So grab that glass of Pinot Noir, a wine containing more disease-fighting antioxidants than any other type of alcoholic beverage.

Pork Rinds

What your health-nut friends will say: "Three words: Deep fried pigskin."

What it actually is: In a 1oz. serving of these fried little guys, you'll find zero carbs, 17 grams (g) of protein, and 9 g fat - 9 times the protein and less fat/carbs than potato chips. Better still, 43 percent of pork rind fat is unsaturated and high in oleic acid — the same healthy fat found in olive oil. Further, 13 percent of the fat content is stearic acid, a type of saturated fat that's considered harmless, because it doesn't raise cholesterol levels.

Chocolate Bars

What your health-nut friends will say: "So much sugar, so much fat. Eesh."

What it actually is: Get off your high-horse and do some research. Cocoa is high in flavonoids. Sound familiar? They're the same heart-healthy compounds found in red wine and green tea. Reaching for the darkest chocolate you can find is best for the potency of the flavonoids. Greek researchers found that consuming dark chocolate containing 100 milligrams (mg) of flavonoids relaxes your blood vessels, improving bloodflow to your heart. And when you consider that the fat is mostly stearic and oleic acids, you're good to enjoy your chocolate guilt-free.

Coconut

What your health-nut friends will say: "It's worse than butter, containing more saturated fat. Plus it'll clog your arteries."

What it actually is: Considering that 50 percent of the saturated-fat content is lauric acid, an acid found to boost HDL cholesterol (the good kind), coconut can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. The remainder of the fat content is almost entirely "medium-chain" fatty acids which have little or no effect on cholesterol levels. So grab a handful of unsweetened, shredded, coconut right from the bag. It's high in calories, though, so don't go crazy.

Sour Cream

What your health-nut friends will say: "It's high in calories and fat. It's a "cream" for crying out loud."

What it actually is: Even though the fat content is high, in its 2 tablespoon serving size, it only contains 52 calories, half the amount found in a single tablespoon of mayo. That serving is also less saturated fat than you'd get from drinking a 12-ounce glass of 2 percent reduced-fat milk.

Source: Men's Health