You are what you eat. Truer words were rarely spoken. In fact, the foods we choose to ingest translate into how much energy we have, whether we maintain a healthy weight, and how healthy we are overall.
Obviously, we must eat to survive, but many foods are feeding us empty calories that contribute to long-term health problems. Below is a brief summary about unhealthy foods that are wise to avoid:
1. Foods with Trans fats. Some fats are good in your diet, like olive oil and Omega-3 fish. However, unsaturated fat, commonly called trans fat, has been shown to contribute to high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke and obesity, according to the American Heart Association. Foods with trans fat include animal products like milk and cheese, but the vast majority of the trans fat we ingest comes from processed foods, such as most fast foods, many snack products and commercial baked goods. The National Academy of Sciences lists no safe level of trans fat in the diet.
2. Foods High in Sodium. Sodium (salt) is another substance commonly found in processed and fast food. Although some sodium is essential for our bodies to function properly, most Americans get way too much of this element. Also, only a small percentage of our daily salt intake is from table salt. Most is ingested in prepared foods—like frozen dinners, canned soups and lunch meats—that use high amounts of salt as a preservative. Too much sodium in the diet has been associated with high blood pressure, and the American Heart Association recommends that Americans eat no more than 2400 mg of sodium each day.
3. Foods Made with White Flour. Foods made with bleached, wheat flour—like bagels, crackers, white bread, and white pasta—are considered bad carbohydrates and, according to the Mayo Clinic, contribute to America’s obesity problem and the high rate of diabetes in our population. These foods, which are made with wheat that has been stripped of its hulk and fiber, are converted directly into sugar by our bodies. So-called “white” foods lack the fiber and vitamins found in whole-wheat products. These foods also contribute to overeating, since the sugar that is released quickly into the body from white foods triggers an insulin response that makes us feel energized for a brief period, but hungry again in a couple of hours.
4. Foods High in Sugar. We all know that we shouldn’t eat too much sugar. However, many of the foods you eat everyday are very high in sugar, even though you might not even realize it. Grocery staples such as many fruit juices, sports drinks, bottled teas, pasta sauce and barbecue sauce often contain a large amount of added sugar. Like the white foods mentioned above, foods with a high sugar content are satisfying for a brief period, but leave us wanting more and more and more, contributing to weight gain. In addition, these sugary foods offer no nutritional benefits.
Everybody likes to indulge themselves every once in a while, but if these foods make up a large part of your everyday diet, perhaps it’s time for a healthy change?
By Ryan Avila – When not training for triathlons or marathons, Ryan writes for YourLocalSecurity.com