While America can proudly boast about some successes, one area that needs major improvement is in our diets and in how we eat. A recent study reported that more than 50 percent of our food consumption is from highly processed foods. In addition, these foods comprise about 90 percent of extra sugar that we consume.
The following list includes examples of some of the worst foods for your health:
- Packaged snacks – sweet or salty
- Packaged baked goods
- Instant noodles or soups
- Chicken and fish nuggets or other reconstituted meat products
- Candy and
Minimally processed foods include those with some additives, such as cheese, bread or canned goods.
Boosting Your Health
In the same study mentioned earlier, the head researcher Euridice Martinez Steele indicated that Americans could decrease their sugar intake simply by limiting the consumption of these so-called ultra-processed foods. In addition to the foods already mentioned, she especially recommends limiting or avoiding the intake of
- Milk with added sugars
- Juice with additional flavorings
- Cake mixes
- Cold cuts
- Ready-to-eat sauces and
- Prepared frozen dishes.
Another 2015 study based out of the University of Michigan further confirmed these highly processed foods can even cause “food addiction.” Scientists have observed animals developing unrestrained eating habits, which could contribute to obesity. The researchers reported that food addictions in animals show almost identical signs as those who suffer with a dependence on drugs, alcohol or other substances.
Average National Sugar Intake
While the recommended daily intake for sugar is about 10 percent of daily caloric intake, most ultra-processed foods contain more than double that amount. Individuals who ate the fewest ultra-processed foods understandably had the lowest sugar levels.
Samantha Heller, a clinical nutritionist in New York City at New York University Medical Center, stated that many foods often contain “hidden” added sugar, such as frozen pizza, salad dressing, French fries and ketchup. In addition, these foods contain high amounts of salt and fat. The products are especially designed to create further cravings for these foods, turning eating patterns into a vicious cycle.
Protein: A Dieter’s Friend
Furthermore, additional studies as cited by the Harvard School of Public Health indicate that eating healthy proteins can assist with weight control for the following reasons:
- Protein tends to fill up people even when they consume fewer calories.
- The body uses more energy to burn protein calories, which could help their metabolism.
- Increased protein consumption helps the body maintain muscle even if they lose weight.
A cautionary warning includes substituting processed and red meat with poultry, fish, beans and nuts to reduce diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Additional Practical Tips
If you are trying to lose weight or improve your overall health, you might not need to look at a fad diet, boost your protein or cut carbs or fats. Instead, simply limit the amount of processed foods that you eat and start consuming more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. As a result, your waistline will decrease, and your body will thank you.
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