A big part of living a healthy lifestyle is choosing the right foods to eat to keep your body happy and healthy. Sometimes, though, the best thing you can do for your diet is to simply get rid of the most harmful food. Going through cupboards and getting rid of all the food that you know isn’t doing you any good is a great place to start. To take the first step to eating healthier, avoid these 5 foods and you will be on the right track!
If there’s one thing to give up instantly, it’s anything with transfats! Unlike other types of fats, which provide health value, transfat provide absolutely no nutritional value. Transfat is detrimental to your healthy and increases your risk of suffering from coronary heart disease by raising your LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and lowering your HDL “good” cholesterol levels. In recent years, the FDA mandated that the amount of transfat be displayed on nutrition labels. It is recommended that you do not consume more than 0.5 grams of transfat a day, but preferably none for optimum health. The key to determining whether food products contain transfat is to carefully read the nutrition labels. If you see the words, “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” you can be sure that there is at least a trace amount of transfat.
Contrary to the name, diet foods are marketed to people trying to lose weight or simply the more health conscious consumer, but they are not good health foods. Diet foods are the lower-calorie, lower-fat, lower-sugar content versions of foods (eg. diet soda, fat-free cookies, etc.). They seem like they would be the perfect choice if you’re trying to watch your sugar, calorie and fat intake, but in reality, these foods are packed with all kinds of highly processed chemicals and additives. Usually reduced-fat foods are loaded up with additional sugar. Instead of eating five fat-free cookies, it’s better to have one or two normal cookies, which have more fat and calories, but have fewer chemicals.
Enriched White Flour
Enriched white flour pervades grocery store aisles – it’s found in virutally all packaged foods. Try and avoid foods that have been refined, enriched or bleached. While “enriched” sounds like a good thing, it actually means that the food has gone through a process that has stripped it of its natural nutrients. Read the first few ingredients of the nutrition label and if you see words like “enriched” or “refined,” just put it back on the shelf and look for options made with whole grains.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) / Refined Sugar
There has been an ongoing debate about whether high fructose corn syrup is dangerous to people’s health. While it’s not dangerous, per se, it definitely holds no nutritional value. Eating lots of foods with refined sugar or HFCS causes the body’s insulin levels to spike, which leads to increased feelings of hunger. Unfortunately, just like enriched white flour, HFCS can be found in much of our food choices, including cookies, cereal, soda, candy and baked goods. Instead, look for products that are naturally sweet or sweetened with fruit or 100% fruit juice. Use maple syrup and honey to sweeten up your food the natural way!
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is a salt compound used as an additive to enhance the flavor of food. The additive actually makes your brain believe that the food you’re consuming tastes better, allowing food companies to use lower quality ingredients. Most often MSG can be found in Chinese cooking, canned foods, soups and processed meats. MSG has been a controversial product for a while which is why the FDA requires that it be listed on the ingredients list on all nutrition labels. Some people suffer adverse reactions from ingesting the additive with symptoms including, migraines, flushing, sweating and facial tightness, among others. As of yet, there has been no definitive link between MSG and the list of symptoms, however, research has suggested many possible health complications as a result of eating too much of this additive.