The Lessened Foods Lesson

Our Wellness Wednesday column last week covered the “live 5” — a handful of food categories that should be a big part of your healthy, balanced diet. This week, we’ll flip the coin and talk about 6 food categories that should play a supporting role at best. In each of these cases, “less is best.”

Salt & Sodium – Our brains are wired to enjoy the taste of salt, and unfortunately, many processed foods and fast food menu items take full advantage. Check the ingredients for sodium and limit the amount of salt you add to your meals, particularly if you suffer from high blood pressure, hypertension, kidney disease or diabetes.

Red Meat – Red meats and processed meat products are primary sources of saturated fats that increase LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol counts. Skinless poultry, fish and other lean meats are better sources of protein.

Pasta, White Bread & Snack Foods – These are all products most prone to using refined grains that are filling and flavorful, but offer little to no nutritional value or fiber. Some popular cereal products fit in this category as well. Check the ingredients and watch out for “refined” or “enriched” grain products.

Sugar – The American Health Institute reports that children consume over 3 times their recommended amounts. Candies, cookies, cakes and soft drinks are laced with sugar, but so are most condiments and many other processed foods you might not think of. Sugar offers no nutritional value and poses health risks for people with heart, weight and diabetic concerns.

Food (in general) – Americans consume considerably more food now than we did 50 years ago, in “large” part, because portion sizes are bigger. Restaurants, convenience stores, grocery packages and fast food joints are all in on the act, but you don’t need to be. Whether at home or away, be mindful of the amount of food you eat.

Alcohol – Unless consumed in moderation (no more than 1-2 drinks per day), alcohol does considerably more harm than good. It contributes to a long list of health issues and should be completely avoided by pregnant women and persons with health conditions.

One final important reminder … please be sure to consult your health care provider before making any changes to your diet or health habits.

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