When trying to eat healthier many people focus on eating out less and eating at home more. That’s usually a great idea, the important thing is to avoid the common foods found in most American fridges that will sabotage your ability to live a healthier lifestyle. Here are 8 foods found in America’s fridges that you need to avoid.
America’s Worst Staple: White Bread
Don’t think of white bread as a harmless, kid-friendly, vehicle for peanut butter or other sandwich fillers. White bread is made with refined flour, which has been stripped of pretty much every bit of bran, germ, and nutritional value. Besides being lower in protein and fiber than whole wheat bread, studies show that refined grains may even be dangerous to your heart. Whole grain breads are a better option but be sure that they say 100% whole grains.
America’s Worst Sandwich Filler: Processed Meats
Luncheon meats and hot dogs have outrageously high levels of sodium, with many of these foods contain as much as 1,000 mg of sodium per serving which isnearly half your daily recommended intake. Researchers at Harvard found that people eating a 1.8-ounce serving of processed meat each day had a 42% higher risk of heart disease and 19% higher risk for type 2 diabetes than a control group. Other studies have shown that eating cured meats a few times a month puts you at risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). When it comes to making sandwhiches you’re better off sticking to home-cooked meats or brands that aren’t stuffed with extra nitrates.
America’s Worst Drink: Soda
This is just shocking right? It’s not exactly news that an average can of soda contains about 140 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar. Not a combination for a healthy beverage. The kicker is diet soda isn’t any better. Drinking both regular and diet soda has been linked to adult metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors, including high blood pressure, weight gain in the stomach area, and insulin resistance, that increases your odds for developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s not a great drink to have stocked for kids or teenagers either. The extra calories from these sugar-sweetened beverages are a big determinant of childhood obesity.
Some better options include: Water, fresh juice, low-fat milk or iced tea.
America’s Worst “Healthy” Food: Frozen Veggies with Sauce
Frozen vegetables are a great way to ensure you’re getting your greens without worrying about them going bad. They also can hold a nutritional bonus: Frozen veggies are often frozen close to the farm. The transit time is shorter so more nutrition is sealed in that bag. So frozen veggies are great, that goes out the window for frozen veggies with sauce. They generally have much more fat and sodium than if you were to add a pat of butter at home.
Worst Spread: Margarine
We all know that butter is high in fat and thus calories, it’s still a way better choice than margarine. Margarine generally has loads of the dreaded, cholesterol-raising, trans fats. Even the trans fat-free varieties can legally contain anything less than 0.5 g per serving. Ditch the margarine and try using olive oil or small amounts of unsalted butter instead.
America’s Worst Dessert: Ice Cream
Let’s be honest a scoop of ice cream is better for you than whatever “molten chocolate explosion” the chain restaurant down the street is selling. The danger of ice cream is that it’s so easy to just pick up a carton and plow through it. Full-fat ice cream contains about 150 calories per half-cup serving, if you go spoon-first into a pint, it’s easy to consume 2-4 servings in a matter of minutes, leading to more fat, sugar, and calories than you bargained for. Try to get out of the habit of eating dessert but if you must try yogurt or fresh fruit instead.
America’s Worst Side Dish: Frozen Fries
Almost all frozen potato products are flash fried. The fat and salt contents are higher than if you just fried them yourself. A recent study from Harvard University found that certain foods cause people to pack on the pounds more quickly than others. The winner? French fries! Eating one serving of French fries per day alone resulted in a 3.4-pound weight gain in four years! If you’re craving fries make your own. Cut up potatoes with the skins on, there is tons of nutrition in the skins, add some olive oil and a pinch of salt, and bake in the oven.
America’s Worst Condiment: Mayo
Mayonnaise is a common staple in fridges nationwide. But with 100 calories per tablespoon, this condiment can turn a typical sandwich into a calorie nightmare. Mustards are a great alternative, but if you crave that creamy texture and rich flavor, try pesto, which is made with heart-healthy olive oil.
Think about a typical lunch that you or your family eat. If it’s made at home how many of these items are involved? The good news is that making some simple substitutions can save you a ton of empty calories and lead to a healthier life.