Here at Yoli, we believe that you don’t need to give up your favorite foods forever to optimize your health. But we also believe that it’s important to know what you’re eating! Your favorite foods may have ingredients that could be harmful to your health.
Here are three things to watch for in your favorite foods!
Fat has a bad reputation, which isn’t necessarily fair—healthy fats like polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and omega-3 fatty acids play important roles in your health. Trans fat, on the other hand, deserves every bit of its bad reputation because it lowers your good cholesterol (HDL) and raises your bad cholesterol (LDL). This combination increases your risk of heart disease.
Some meat and dairy products contain small amounts of naturally-occurring trans fat, but most of your trans fat intake comes from processed foods. Baked goods, fried foods, canned doughs, and margarines can all contain high amounts of trans fats. Read labels carefully, and do your best to avoid trans fats even in small amounts!
Sodium isn’t inherently bad. In fact, your body needs sodium for normal nerve and muscle function and to maintain your blood pressure, so you don’t want to cut it out of your diet entirely.
The problem is that most of eat far more sodium than we need. The Dietary Guidelines for sodium consumption is less than 2,300 mg per day, but the average American consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium each day. According to the American Heart Association, excess sodium consumption can increase your risk for stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, and other serious health issues.
Before you buy processed foods, look at how much sodium they contain. Be especially careful when looking at frozen dinners and processed meats, as they generally contain far more sodium than you may expect.
Like sodium, sugar isn’t inherently bad. The natural sugars found in dairy products and fruit, for example, are an essential form of fuel in the body. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to consume too much sugar. The American Heart Organization recommends restricting added sugar intake to 9 teaspoons for men and 6 teaspoons for women.
Added sugars can be found in almost every processed food. Of course, you’d expect to find sugar in fruit snacks, cake mixes, and candy, but what about white bread? Pasta sauce? Instant oatmeal? All of them can have surprising amounts of added sugar!
To reduce your sugar intake, check the labels of processed foods before purchasing them for sugar content. Of course, sugar often goes by different names in ingredient lists, so keep an eye out for words that end in –ose, such as fructose and glucose!
It’s important to know what you’re eating, so look out for these three things in your favorite foods. For more tips for a healthy lifestyle, subscribe to the blog and check out our Facebook page!