While it is ideal to eat healthily, there are some foods that are just plain bad for you. These nutrient-deficient junk foods can do serious damage to your body and lead to illness, so it’s best to steer clear of them whenever possible.
Thankfully, there are plenty of healthy alternatives to these popular convenience foods. Here is a list of items to avoid and what can be substituted instead:
1. Soybean Oil
Soybean oil is a commonly-available cooking oil used in many dishes, from salad dressings and baked goods to snacks and more. Unfortunately, it may have some negative effects on health if you are trying to shed pounds or improve overall wellbeing.
Soybean oil is high in protein and healthy fats, but it also contains polyunsaturated fatty acids which may contribute to inflammation over time. Fortunately, there are healthier alternatives to soybean oil you could consider using instead.
If you’re searching for a healthier alternative to soybean oil, consider switching it with an organic, GMO-free vegetable oil. These oils tend to have lower saturated fat levels and contain omega 3 fatty acids which may reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Furthermore, these foods are low in trans fats and packed with antioxidants that may protect your heart. You can even substitute avocado or nut butters for soybean oil when making toast or sandwiches.
Another way to steer clear of soybean oil is by reading the labels on all your food items. Many packaged and snack foods contain it, so be sure to check the ingredient list for each item.
Soybean oil has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that it promotes insulin resistance which could potentially increase your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.
Soybean oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids primarily in the form of linoleic acid, a highly unstable and easily oxidized fat which may contribute to inflammation in the body.
Omega-6 fatty acids in this oil are higher than omega-3s, which may prove detrimental in the long term. Furthermore, hydrogenated soybean oil should not be consumed since it contains trans fats.
2. Canned Fruit
Canned fruit may seem like a healthier choice than fresh, but their packing liquid can have an enormous effect on their nutritional value. According to Prevention magazine, some canned fruits are packed in syrup with plenty of added sugar – two peach halves canned in heavy syrup contain 24 grams! To cut back on sugar intake, opt for fresh produce or produce that has been canned using water, juice or light syrup instead.
A nutritious and minimally processed diet should include plenty of fruits. Fresh produce is readily available and reasonably priced year-round, making this an ideal option for healthy living.
Julie Stefanski, R.D.N. and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends selecting products that are canned in water, juice or light syrup with no preservatives or additives. These types of items will give you maximum nutritional value without sacrificing convenience or taste.
Be on the lookout for “BPA Free,” as this chemical found in plastics has been linked to thickening arteries and other health problems.
Additionally, look for the label “No Sugar Added,” as this indicates there are no added sugars or sweeteners. You may also find canned fruit with no added salt.
Overall, canned fruits offer a convenient and cost-effective way to increase your fruit intake. They make for great additions to meals, providing essential vitamin C and antioxidants. But before you buy any cans of fruit, read their labels carefully for any flaws in seals or smells that seem unusually funky.
3. Dried Fruit Snacks
If you’re trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, dried fruit snacks can be an ideal way to do so. They’re shelf-stable, convenient to grab, and often packed with essential nutrients.
But be mindful of how much you consume of these snack options, as they can be high in calories and sugar. Plus, some varieties may contain sulfites which may cause your body to break down the natural color of fruits.
Dried fruit is an ideal snack choice for those on keto, low-carb, or other diets that require more protein, fiber, and healthy fats than typical snack foods. Plus, its high fiber content helps stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you feeling satiated for longer.
Dried fruit is also an excellent source of antioxidants and polyphenols, which may help protect against diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Unfortunately, eating too much of any food can have a detrimental effect on your health, so if you’re trying to shed pounds it’s best to steer clear of these snacks. Furthermore, their high sugar content may contribute to insulin resistance which has been linked with obesity and other chronic illnesses.
When selecting fruit snacks, Paul suggests looking for brands with no additives and simply sun-dried or freeze-dried fruits. Some companies, like Ekoa, keep their dried fruit bars to under three ingredients with between 100 to 150 calories.
McGrane suggests prepping portion sizes by picking up a pre-portioned bar or taking fruit out of its bag and plating it so you can refocus on eating. You could also take short breaks between bites to slow down consumption and recognize when you’re full.
Nuts make for a nutritious and calorie-controlled snack, offering high levels of protein and fiber as well as unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Plus they’re easy to enjoy on their own or incorporate into various dishes – making them suitable at any time of the day!
However, if you are prone to food allergies, it’s best to steer clear of all nuts. They contain a protein which may cause serious reactions in some individuals such as asthma, heartburn and rashes.
Most people can safely eat a handful of nuts daily without developing an allergy, provided they avoid salted and flavoured varieties, dry roasted or honey roasted nuts as well as those which have been processed (like peanuts). The most common allergens found in nuts include peanuts, tree nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts cashews and macadamias.
Recent studies suggest that eating an extra serving of nuts daily could reduce your risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease. When compared to a control group, those who consumed more nuts experienced lower waist circumference and BMI when overweight.
Though most nuts offer similar nutritional benefits, certain varieties have distinct nutrient profiles. For instance, certain nuts contain more vitamin E and antioxidants than others.
Nutrient differences make it essential to select the nut that is best suited for you. Pistachios, for instance, provide plenty of vitamins A, C and E as well as magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.
Nuts are packed with dietary fiber, which benefits your digestive health and helps you feel full faster. Plus, they contain antioxidants and vitamin E which may reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Cheese is an irresistible food, but it’s high in calories and fat. To minimize your intake to about one ounce per day, experts suggest limiting it. Furthermore, cheese contains sodium which may increase blood pressure or heart disease risks.
Additionally, certain cheeses contain high amounts of bacteria which may cause stomach upset and bloating for those with lactose intolerance. If these symptoms apply to you, it may be best to eliminate or reduce dairy from your diet entirely.
If you choose to consume cheese, it is essential that you avoid its soft or semi-soft rinds. Rims can be an indicator of contamination as they can spread mold and other hazardous bacteria throughout the cheese.
To avoid these issues, store your cheese in a refrigerator with its rind removed. If you can’t do this, wrap the cheese in cheese paper before storing.
Another way to prevent cheese from becoming moldy is to trim away any spots with mold that measure more than 1 inch in size. This should be done carefully with a sharp knife, and only the moldy area should be cut away.
Furthermore, any soft or shredded cheese that has mold growing on it should be thrown away – this includes ricotta, cottage cheese and any other shredded or sliced cheese with mold.
When selecting cheese to eat, it’s essential to opt for one that has low saturated fat and high calcium and other nutrients. Doing this can help protect you against health risks like high cholesterol and weight gain. These types of cheese can be found at most grocery stores or farmers markets near you.