When planning your diet, most of you just focus on foods that are sweet or taste great and don’t mind whether these are unhealthy foods or healthy foods. But do you know what unhealthy foods are doing to your body?
Most of the food we eat provides zero nutrition value and just high in calories. Increased consumption of unhealthy food is the primary reason behind high rates of obesity, inflammation, higher cholesterol levels, and rising blood pressure.
Dieticians recommend a balanced diet full of nutritious food with regular exercise. This will guarantee your body the required nutrition; maintain the body healthy, with the ideal body weight.
I know you are now wondering what kind of foods fall into the category of unhealthy foods. Well, these are not strange foods. These are food items that seem hard to resist and have probably become part of your life. If you want to eat healthy foods, lose weight, and prevent chronic illnesses, read on because we shall focus on unhealthy foods in this entire article.
What is healthy food?
Sometimes it is hard to tell whether which foods are healthy and which aren’t. But in short, foods are said to be healthy if they organic such as natural food or whole food, and are rich in nutrition to give you energy, maintain your health, and make you feel good.
What makes foods unhealthy?
The preparation method, the ingredients used in the food, and the storage methods make the food unhealthy. Ingredients such as sodium, sugar, and fat should always be monitored when eating out or shopping at the grocery store.
The American Heart Association maintains that you consume saturated fat and trans-fats of not less than 7% and 1% respectively, about 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day and not more than 100 calories of sugar a day. The bad thing is that the average American eats more than double the suggested sodium and sugar intake.
Inappropriate preparation, transportation, and storage methods can also expose the food to pathogens or dangerous metals that are harmful to your health.
What are these unhealthy foods?
Foods that high in fat, sugar, calories, and low in nutritional value are said to be unhealthy. By low nutrition we mean food that is low in essential nutrients that the body needs for healthy living. This includes food that is low in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats, and high in empty calories.
In other words, if the food causes hypertension, obesity, inflammation, and higher cholesterol levels, it is considered unhealthy. You can have a look at the list of unhealthy foods below. We have tried to categorize them in a way to make it easier for you to remember them and keep them away from your normal diet:
High level of sugar
These are unhealthy foods because of their zero nutritional value and high sugar content. Have a look at the list of these items and try avoiding them. They are definitely harmful to your body as they are providing with excessive sugar. This excessive sugar can make your morning meal taste good but it is definitely not the best option to start your day with.
These include; sweet cereals, sugary drinks, carbonated drinks (coca-cola and Pepsi), cereal bars, cakes and pastries, cookies, low-fat yogurt, milkshakes, high sugar coffee, agave nectar, doughnuts, instant oatmeal, coated candies, and more.
High-fat content – unhealthy foods
These consist of unhealthy fats, most especially hydrogenated oils. These not only make you obese but also lead to other health issues such as high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular diseases, and more.
These include; Nachos, frozen pie, cheese-flavored popcorn, mozzarella sticks, peanut butter, margarine, French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, onion rings, spring rolls, ice cream, vanilla frosting, mayonnaise, and most vegetable oil (corn oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil) which have omega 6 fatty acids, that may harm you.
High mineral content –unhealthy foods
Much as minerals are important, overconsumption affects your metabolism and efficient body functioning. Starting from excessive fat, carbohydrates, and salt, high level of minerals are dangerous to your health. So, you must keep the mineral you consume in check.
When it comes to seasoning and dressing, salt is a problem. Dressings contain several salts when mixed with, additional salt can create an overall excess quantity of minerals, which isn’t required by your body.
These foods include; Canned soup, Caesar salad, taco, macaroni with cheese, dehydrated noodle, tomato ketchup.
Highly processed food – unhealthy foods
Heavily processed foods contain artificial or refined ingredients like preservatives, colorants, fake flavorings, sweeteners, and chemicals mainly to keep up the taste, texture and increase the shelf life.
These substances are high in calories without healthy nutritional value. This is the reason for several health issues such as an increase the blood sugar, obesity, high cholesterol levels, and more
Highly processed foods include; Pizzas, burgers, processed meat, white bread, white rice, candy bars, processed cheese, jellies, chicken nuggets, low carbohydrates junk food, gluten-free junk food, bouillon cubes.
How to avoid unhealthy food/how do I begin to eat healthily?
We know you can’t stick to a specific list of items for all your life; so we have come up with a few tips to guide you when making decisions regarding healthy eating. These include;
- Cut back on processed foods.
- Avoid foods with excess sodium (bread and rolls; cold cuts and cured meats; pizza; burritos and tacos; soup; sandwiches).
- When shopping, read product labels. This helps you to keep the ingredients in check.
- Always plan your meals ahead of time. This will ensure that you cut back on fast foods like fries which are always unhealthy.
- Choose to make your own meals at home. This way you can dictate what should be included in the food and what should be avoided.
- Choose lean meats which are always low in fat.
- Avoid skipping meals. People who normally skip meals end up snacking on unhealthy foods when hungry.
- Choose milder and healthier cooking methods like boiling, stewing, blanching, and steaming.
- For those who can’t stay away from ice cream, opt for healthier brands or make your own ice cream using fresh fruit and less sugar.
- Aim for nutrient-dense, whole foods, such as fresh fruits and whole grains.
What are the healthiest foods?
There are many healthy and tasty foods on the planet; having a list of such foods should not worry you. Simply aim at filling your shopping list with fruits, vegetables, quality protein, and other whole foods.
Here is our list of some of the healthiest foods.
These are among the world’s healthiest foods. Fruits are nutritious and easy to incorporate into your diet. Fruits are high in fiber, vitamin C, healthy fats, potassium, manganese, and antioxidants. Look for fruits like Apples, Avocados, Bananas, Blueberries, Oranges, and Strawberries. See healthy fruit desserts here.
Unprocessed, gently cooked meat lean meat is low in fat, high in protein, and iron. These include Lean beef, Chicken breasts, Lamb (high in omega-3 fatty acids).
Nuts and seeds
Although they are high in fat and calories, nuts and seeds are good for weight loss because they are crunchy, and filling. They are also loaded with important nutrients including magnesium, calcium, manganese, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin E.
The nuts and seeds include; Almonds, Chia seeds, Coconuts, Macadamia nuts, and Walnuts
These are low in both carbs and calories but loaded with fiber, vitamin K, antioxidants, vitamin C, and a decent amount of proteins.
Go for vegetables like Asparagus, Bell peppers, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Garlic, Kale, Onions, Tomatoes, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, eggplant, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, radishes, squash, Swiss chard, turnips, and zucchini.
Fish and seafood
Fish and seafood are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, selenium, vitamin B12, and iodine. Research shows that people who eat high amounts of seafood tend to live longer and have a lower risk of diseases such as heart disease, dementia, and depression.
These include; Salmon, Sardines, Shellfish, Shrimp, Trout, and Tuna. But make sure to buy low-mercury varieties.
Not all grains are bad some types are very healthy. Although they are not recommended for low-carb diets since they are a bit high in carbs. Grains have a decent amount of fiber, vitamin B1, plant-based protein, and magnesium.
The grains include; Brown rice, Oats, and Quinoa
Legumes are a great plant-based source of protein, fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
Green beans, Kidney beans, Lentils, and Peanuts
Dairy is a good source of various important nutrients like vitamin k2, minerals, quality animal protein, calcium, and bioactive fatty acids like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Research shows that people who eat the most full-fat dairy have a lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Dairy products like yogurt come with live cultures that have the added benefit of friendly probiotic bacteria.
Others include; Cheese, Whole milk, Yogurt
Fats and oils
Fats are high in antioxidants, vitamin K2, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats
The common fats include; Butter from grass-fed cows, Coconut oil, and Extra virgin olive oil.
Learn more about healthy and unhealthy fats here.
Tubers such as Potatoes, Sweet potatoes have beneficial nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, starch, and antioxidants.
Dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants and magnesium.
Eating healthy should not be a very big concern. All you need to do is to steer clear of the processed, high-sugar items and more as we have categorized them above. Focus on whole foods and practice mindful eating.
See our articles below which are also related to healthy eating.
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