It is almost the New Year, which means it is time to make new changes to your diet and improve your overall health. Part of a healthy diet is eliminating harmful foods from your every day consumption. The following list contains some of the worst foods you should limit or even eliminate from your diet in 2016:
1. Agave syrup:
Agave may not be the worst food but do not be fooled into thinking that it is a healthier option compared to sugar. It is more of a preference than anything else and you might want to consider eliminating it. Similar to high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup is a highly processed sweetener. One tablespoon of this syrup is about sixty calories compared to forty calories found in a tablespoon of sugar. However, since agave is sweeter than sugar you can use a little less, which may balance out to fewer overall calories.
2. Gluten-free foods:
Going gluten-free seems to be all the rage. However, adopting a gluten-free lifestyle is only necessary for those diagnosed with celiac disease or who have gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found in products made with wheat, rye, and barley, whereas products containing gluten-free oats, buckwheat, and rice are tolerated just fine. Unfortunately though, when it comes to many processed foods such as pastas, cereals, and crackers, the gluten-free options could be some of the worst foods. They are often higher in sugars and calories and lower in fiber and protein. If you have no medical reasons to go gluten-free then eliminate gluten-free food products and enjoy moderate portions of whole grain food choices as a part of your healthy balanced diet.
3. Veggie chips:
Commercialized veggie chips are usually not the healthiest snack choice and therefore have made this list of one of the worst foods to eliminate this year. While they might serve as a healthier alternative to regular potato chips, they often do not provide an abundance of nutritional benefits. Often they are high in fats, which are used while processing these snacks. They usually also contain quite a bit of starches, which can quickly add up to unnecessary calories. A serving is considered to be about ten to fifteen chips. However, a typical portion is usually far more than that.
Instead of choosing a processed “healthy” snack, make a snack that provides many nutritional benefits. Choose your favorite leafy greens, drizzle them with a touch of olive oil and add your own flavorings or spices, such as cayenne pepper, paprika, or the traditional choice of salt and pepper.
These can be low calorie options with lots of good nutrients, such as fiber, folic acid and vitamin C. You can also make your own sweet potato chips by thinly slicing up a sweet potato, drizzling the slices with a touch of oil, sprinkling them with a bit of rosemary and baking them for about fifteen minutes. Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A and contain double the fiber as a regular potato. Stick to half a cup serving though, as the calories can quickly add up.
4. Greek yogurt:
Greek yogurt has become quite popular as an incredibly healthy part of a balanced diet. Now don’t get me wrong, Greek yogurt can be a very healthy option but often it seems to be more of a dessert type of food than anything else, making it one of the worst foods. The flavored yogurts such as chocolate or fruit-flavored options, in addition to the granola mix that many yogurts come with, contain a lot of added sugars, additives and calories. Many individuals have the misconception that the fruit-flavored options provide the added benefits that fruit provides, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
One serving of this option contains upwards of 25 grams of sugar, which can quickly lead to spikes in your blood sugar levels. Ideally, you’d like to aim for less than eight grams of sugar, which is more likely when choosing plain yogurt.
If you are looking for a healthy way to incorporate Greek yogurt into your diet then choose unflavored, plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself. Perhaps a dash of honey and a little vanilla can help enhance its flavor. You could also include half a cup of frozen berries or cherries to get the added health benefits of fiber, antioxidants and many other nutrients. Mix in a touch of cinnamon, which can also have the added effect of increasing its sweetness.
5. Fruit juice:
Are you guilty of indulging in a glass of juice, thinking that you are easily incorporating some of your fruit servings for the day? While you might enjoy your morning glass of fresh orange juice as a part of your healthy breakfast, you are really just including one of the worst foods that has a whole bunch of extra calories and sugar. Unfortunately, juice is high in sugar and calories and low in nutrients. More so, you are missing out on an easy and important way of obtaining your daily recommendation of fiber. The average American only consumes about 15 grams of fiber daily, whereas women should be consuming 25 grams per day and men should be consuming 38 grams per day, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Eat the whole fruit more often and also aim to include more vegetables than fruit. In fact, you should try to limit your fruit intake to no more than two fruit servings per day (one serving is half a cup). Fruit are higher in sugar and lower in fiber. Vegetables are much lower in calories and sugar and higher in fiber. If you are looking to include fruit juice as a treat, then limit your intake to no more than half a cup per day. Make sure the label clearly reads that it contains 100% juice and not ‘fruit cocktail’ or ‘fruit drink’.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Horton, J., “The truth about agave,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/diet/the-truth-about-agave, last accessed December 30, 2015.