Present day realities, where the frenetic pace of life compels people to fit several things into their daily schedule makes them oftentimes leave home very early and frequently do not find time to eat normal breakfast or even good meals at lunch, drives most individuals to consume fast foods and other fast foods. For a good number of people too, junk food is their regular fare not because they lack time to eat better stuff. They just love junk foods. And many other people eat certain foods that are not ordinarily classified as junk of fast foods. The fact remains that not food materials are good for the health of the body. To lose weight and prevent some chronic illnesses, there is clear need to religiously avoid certain foods. Here are 20 foods that are generally unhealthy — although most people can eat them in moderation on special occasions without any permanent dam- age to their health. The list also offers alternatives
1. Sugary drinks
Added sugar is one of the worst ingredients in the modern diet. However, some sources of sugar are worse than others, and sugary drinks are particularly harmful. When you drink liquid calories, your brain doesn’t appear to register them as food. Thus, you may end up drastically increasing your total calorie intake. When consumed in large amounts, sugar can drive insulin resistance and is strongly linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It’s also associated with various serious conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Some people believe that sugary drinks are the most fattening aspect of the modern diet — and drinking them in large amounts can drive fat gain and obesity. Instead, drink water, soda water, coffee, or tea instead. Adding a slice of lemon to water or soda water can provide a burst of flavour.
2. Most pizzas
Pizza is one of the world’s most popular junk foods. Most commercial pizzas are made with unhealthy ingredients, including highly refined dough and heavily processed meat. Pizza also tends to be extremely high in calories. Some restaurants offer healthier ingredients. Homemade pizzas can also be very healthy, as long as you choose wholesome ingredients.
3. White bread
Most commercial breads are unhealthy if eaten in large amounts, as they are made from refined wheat, which is low in fibre and essential nutrients and may lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar.
Whole-wheat bread is healthier than white bread.
4. Most fruit juices
Fruit juice is often assumed to be healthy. While juice contains some antioxidants and vitamin C, it also packs high amounts of liquid sugar.
In fact, fruit juice harbours just as much sugar as sugary drinks like Coke or Pepsi — and sometimes even more. Some fruit juices have been shown to have health benefits despite their sugar content, such as pomegranate and blueberry juices. However, these should be considered occasional supplements, not an every- day part of your diet.
5. Sweetened breakfast cereals
Breakfast cereals are processed cereal grains, such as wheat, oats, rice, and corn. They’re especially popular among children and frequently eaten with milk. To make them more palatable, the grains are roasted, shredded, pulped, rolled, or flaked. They’re generally high in added sugar. The main downside of most breakfast cereals is their high added sugar content. Some are so sweet that they could even be compared to candy.
Choose breakfast cereals that are high in fibre and low in added sugar.
Even better, make your own oat porridge from scratch.
6. Fried, grilled, or broiled food
Frying, grilling, and broiling are among the unhealthiest cooking methods. Foods cooked in these ways are often highly palatable and caloriedense. Several types of unhealthy chemical compounds also form when food is cooked under high heat. These include acrylamides, acrolein, heterocyclic amines, oxysterols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
Many chemicals formed during high- heat cooking have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and heart dis- ease. To improve your health, choose milder and healthier cooking methods, such as boiling, stewing, blanching, and steaming.
7. Pastries, cookies, and cakes
Most pastries, cookies, and cakes are unhealthy if eaten in excess. Packaged versions are generally made with refined sugar, refined wheat flour, and added fats. Shortening, which may be high in unhealthy trans fats, is some- times added.
These treats might be tasty, but they have almost no essential nutrients, copious calories, and many preservatives. If you can’t stay away from dessert, spring for Greek yogHurt, fresh fruit, or dark chocolate.
8. French fries and potato chips
Whole, white potatoes are very healthy. However, the same cannot be said of French fries and potato chips. These foods are very high in calories, and it’s easy to eat excessive amounts. Several studies link French fries and potato chips to weight gain.
These foods may also contain large amounts of acrylamides, which are carcinogenic substances that form when potatoes are fried, baked, or roasted.
Potatoes are best consumed boiled, not fried. If you need something crunchy to replace potato chips, try baby carrots or nuts.
…To be continued next week
•Adapted from Webmd.com