Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ten things not to bring home from grocery stores

1.     Stick margarine/ butter / Vegetable Shortening
Margarine is made from vegetable oils, so it contains no cholesterol. Margarine is also higher in "good" fats — polyunsaturated and monounsaturated — than butter is. Butter, on the other hand, is made from animal fat, so it contains cholesterol and high levels of saturated fat.
But not all margarines are created equal. Some margarines contain trans fat. In general, the more solid the margarine, the more trans fat it contains. So stick margarines usually have more trans fat than tub margarines do. Trans fat, like saturated fat, increases blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. In addition, trans fat lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol levels. So skip the stick and opt for soft or liquid margarine instead.
2.     Canned foods
Canned foods usually contain large amounts of sodium or fat. These are of the many bad processed foods that are made with trans-fats, saturated fats, and large amounts of sodium and sugar. While excessive sodium can be problematic, the only real danger from canned food comes from the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which causes botulism. Food-borne botulism is an extremely dangerous form of food poisoning that may occur when food is improperly heated during the canning process. These processed foods should be avoided, or at least eaten sparingly.
3.     Breads and pastas made with refined white flour instead of whole grains.
Although there are near infinite variations, and therefore several healthy variations of this food as well, the typical pasta you get when you buy your spaghetti, macaroni or noodles, at least in a grocery store is just plain white flour, mixed with water and eggs (although the small percentage of egg included don’t contribute much to the nutritional value of pasta). No vitamins, no minerals, and barely any fiber. Nothing, except empty carbs, shaped as pasta. Same goes for white bread. Almost the same dough shaped as bread makes white bread not a great choice. Instead opt for whole grain or bran breads.
4.     Packaged high-calorie snack foods such as chips and candies
Needless to say snack items such as packaged chips and candies are loaded with salt, sugar and trans fats. Consumption of food containing trans-fat has unequivocally been shown to increase the risk of heart disease by raising levels of LDL (bad cholesterol), and lowering levels of HDL (good cholesterol).
These snack-time favorites are always a safe bet for high salt content. Here's how a 1-ounce serving compares.
·         Potato chips = 136 milligrams
·         Cheese puffs = 240 milligrams
·         Pretzels = 385 milligrams
5.     Frozen fish sticks and frozen dinners
When you look at the frozen food stall in a store, be aware that all the preserved food is very high in sodium content. Why is that, one wonders? Salt (sodium chloride) serves a number of purposes. It helps prevent spoiling by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, yeast and mold. Salt also brings out the flavors in food. For example, salt accentuates the sweetness in cakes and cookies. Salt also helps disguise metallic or chemical aftertastes in products such as soft drinks. In addition, salt reduces the perception of dryness in foods such as crackers and pretzels.
6.     Packaged cakes and cookies.
Same goes for packaged cakes and cookies. Very high is trans fat, salt and sugar content. Even when you bake at home, you know how much sugar goes into making cakes and cookies, try adding additional salt and unhealthy trans fat to the list and you will have an idea how unhealthy these yummy treats actually are.
7.     Sugary breakfast cereals.
Many breakfast cereals contain very high amounts of sugar, sodium and processed grains. Many also lack basic nutrients, including proteins and fiber, as a result of the extrusion process, which damages the whole grain. Breakfast cereal can be good for you if it's made with 100-percent whole grain and fortified with additional nutrients, but many breakfast cereals are low in fiber and contain too much sugar.
8.     Processed meats
Some studies suggest that eating processed meats may increase your risk of colorectal, kidney and stomach cancer. Processed meats include hot dogs, sausage and other packaged lunch meats. These meats are frequently high in calories, saturated fats and sodium.
9.     Juices / Carbonated drinks
While it is true that fruit juice contains a lot of vitamins but it is at great cost; most fruit juice is pumped up with extra sugar and aside from a few varieties has its pulp removed. The pulp in fruit provides essential fiber which can be considered a good counterbalance to all the natural sugar contained in the fruit. So its always better to ditch fruit drinks and eat whole raw fruit instead.
10.  Processed Cheese – cheese slices
Processed cheese is made from natural cheese and added to it are other unfermented dairy ingredients, plus emulsifiers, extra salt and / or food colorings.  Some sources also showed that the average processed cheese you get contains so much salt that you can reach far past the recommended daily intake with just 2-3 slices of cheese.

"Trans fats are really like plastic, and when we eat them they incorporate in our cells and the cells cannot communicate or talk to one another. In turn, hormones are disturbed, weight gain follows but more troubling, the risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke, infertility goes up."
Trans fats are commonly found in commercially fried food and packaged foods, especially baked goods. But you won't see the phrase, "trans fat" in the list of ingredients. Instead, look for the word, "hydrogenated."

A bad diet is high in both sugar and salt content amongst other unhealthy contents. If you succeed in planning your diet around fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats, you may find yourself naturally cutting back on foods that can get in the way of your healthy diet.


Sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems. Unfortunately, reducing the amount of candy, cakes, and desserts we eat is only part of the solution. Often you may not even be aware of the amount of sugar you’re consuming each day. Large amounts of added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, soy sauce, and ketchup. Here are some tips:
  • Avoid sugary drinks. One 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, more than the daily recommended limit! Try sparkling water with lemon or a splash of fruit juice.
  • Eat naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth.


Most of us consume too much salt in our diets. Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to other health problems. Try to limit sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day, the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt.
  • Be careful when eating out. Most restaurant and fast food meals are loaded with sodium.
  • Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables.
  • Try slowly reducing the salt in your diet to give your taste buds time to adjust.

Add to your healthy diet:

  • Monounsaturated fats, from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans), and seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame).
  • Polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold water fish oil supplements. Other sources of polyunsaturated fats are unheated sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed oils, and walnuts.

Reduce or eliminate from your diet:

  • Saturated fats, found primarily in animal sources including red meat and whole milk dairy products.
  • Trans fats, found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

What are the implications of a bad diet

An unhealthy diet leads to many problems and never ending trips to the doctor. Amongst many issues that can spring from having a bad diet obesity, cardiovascular diseases and depression are the most common ones.
Obesity: One common consequence of a bad diet is obesity, or excess body weight. A poor diet which is high in processed food can lead to excess weight gain because many such foods are calorie-dense, and cause one to overeat on a daily basis. To help prevent obesity, consider adding nutrient-dense but calorie-sparse foods, such as vegetables, into your diet, and develop good portion control in order to avoid overeating.

Cardiovascular Disease: Another possible consequence of a poor diet is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which can affect the heart and the blood vessels throughout your body. The processed foods that make up a large part of a poor diet often contain high levels of sodium, or salt. High levels of salt intake can cause fluid retention in your bloodstream, leading to high blood pressure. In addition, the saturated fat found in several junk foods can lead to the accumulation of cholesterol within your blood vessels, increasing your risk for a heart attack and stroke.
Depression: A poor diet can also affect your emotional health, and may contribute to the development of mental disorders like depression. A poor diet generally, contains an imbalance of two types of essential fatty acids important in brain functioning: over consuming omega-6 and under consuming omega-3 fatty acids. It is important to change your diet to include sources of omega-3 fatty acids may help relieve depression in some cases. Good sources of healthy fat are needed to nourish your brain, heart, and cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA are particularly important and can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood, and help prevent dementia. To help correct an omega fatty acid imbalance and potentially reduce your risk of depression, consume sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and walnuts, several times a week.

How sugar is hidden on food labels
Check food labels carefully. Sugar is often disguised using terms such as:
  • cane sugar or maple syrup
  • corn sweetener or corn syrup
  • honey or molasses
  • brown rice syrup
  • crystallized or evaporated cane juice
  • fruit juice concentrates, such as apple or pear
  • maltodextrin (or dextrin)
  • Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Maltose, or Sucrose

How salt is hidden on food labels

  • Sodium-free: Less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving
  • Very low-sodium: 35 milligrams or less per serving
  • Low-sodium: Less than 140 milligrams per serving
  • Reduced sodium: Sodium level reduced by 25%
  • Unsalted, no salt added, or without added salt: Made without the salt that's normally used, but still contains the sodium that's a natural part of the food itself.
When you're scanning a food label, don't just look for the word "salt." Watch out for various forms of sodium or other names for the same thing:
  • sodium alginate
  • sodium ascorbate
  • sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • sodium benzoate
  • sodium caseinate
  • sodium chloride
  • sodium citrate
  • sodium hydroxide
  • sodium saccharin
  • sodium stearoyl lactylate
  • sodium sulfite
  • disodium phosphate
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • trisodium phosphate
  • Na

Be sure to look for products that are made with more whole grains, less sodium and have fewer calories. They should also be low in saturated fat and free of trans-fats. Make sure you pay attention to serving size, too, and balance out the processed foods with more fresh foods. If you choose a convenient meal, add a garden salad, fresh vegetables, and some whole grain bread to make the meal healthier.

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