For decades there have been many foods recommended as “healthy” that have caused some major damage to the American diet. Finally, some foods such as margarine and egg whites are being recognized as not-so-healthy alternatives. However, we still have a ways to go with undoing some of the damage that is still being recommended as healthy. Here is a list of some major “health” foods that should be avoided.
» Vegetable oils. Often recommended as a healthy option, vegetable oils such as canola, soybean and corn oil are highly inflammatory and many are partially hydrogenated. These oils were practically non-existent in our diets until the early 1900s when new chemical processes allowed them to be extracted. Vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fats but obsolete in omega-3 fats. Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. The major culprit for such a high omega-6 fat ratio is vegetables oils which is found is most processed foods. According to an article in (SET ITAL) Biomed & Pharmacotherapy (END ITAL), a very high omega-6 ratio as found in today’s Western diets promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory and autoimmune disease. Reducing your intake of highly processed foods helps reduce the intake of unhealthy vegetable oils. I also recommend switching from processed vegetables oils to cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil for your cooking oil option. Use extra virgin olive oil for a raw oil option (to drizzle on salads).
» Margarine. Margarine is mostly made up of vegetable oils, which as stated earlier, is highly inflammatory. Many margarines also contain trans-fat, which is the most harmful fat and should always be avoided. Instead of margarine choose grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil.
Juice. Fruit juice has been used in schools and pre-schools for decades as a way to obtain fruit. Unfortunately, this is still a battle that needs to be addressed in our schools. Fruit juice is not even closely comparable to fruit. It is depleted of fiber unlike fruit. According to a study published in the journal of Nutrition, the average fruit juice’s fructose concentration is 45.5 grams per liter. For soda it’s 50 grams. Our bodies were not designed to handle that amount of fructose overload. The best way reap the benefits of fruit are from actual whole fruits with the peeling intact.
» Factory farmed meat. If you are what you eat then I would prefer not to consume hormones, antibiotics and other drugs that animals are given on factory farms. Did you know about 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics are sold for the use of food animal production? Most of the antibiotics sold in America are sold for the use of animals, not humans. According to a study in Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, banned drugs were found in 8 of 12 samples of poultry feed in a multi-state study. Instead of factory farm meat and eggs, raise your own or purchase from a local farmer where you know their practices and ask your farmer if their meat is grass-fed. A great place to get your animal products is from the Morganton Farmers Market, we also have some great local farmers in our area.
» Table salt. Table salt is a highly processed salt made in factories and heated to over 1,000 degrees. It is stripped of its naturally occurring minerals. Often, aluminum hydroxide (an anti-caking agent) and other chemicals are added. The best sources of salt are Himalayan salt and Celtic sea salt, which our in their original forms.
» Low fat dairy. We have been taught to always choose the low-fat options when it comes to foods which has led to a decrease in good fats and an increase in sugar. Natural fats such as those found in dairy help promote fullness when eating dairy. Also, fat helps prevent a blood sugar spike that can come when eating dairy that is stripped of fat but still contains the sugar. Most low-fat dairy options contain more added sugar since the fat is removed. If you consume dairy, choose full-fat, organic dairy options opposed to low-fat, added sugar options.
Mandy Nix is a registered dietitian in Morganton who writes a weekly nutrition column for The News Herald. For questions, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.