What Foods are BAD for Your Health?

Last week, we talked about the BEST foods for your health.

The natural follow up is which foods are the WORST for your health.

The truth is there are foods that significantly contribute to illness and disease. It’s the cold and hard truth.

We know certain foods increase your risk of early death. The bad news is Americans often eat way too much of these foods.

Where does this information come from? It comes from a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

So which four foods should you avoid to decrease your risk of early death? Read on for the details!

Sugar Sweetened Beverages

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Sugar sweetened beverages are drinks that have sugar added to them. Examples include sodas and soft drinks, flavored juice drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, coffee drinks, energy drinks, and electrolyte replacement drinks.

While sugar sweetened beverages may seem innocuous, they are anything but. They are associated with 15% of deaths related to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

If you’re a die hard soda or sweet coffee drinker, it may take time to wean yourself. However, I know you can do it. And to help, here are some healthy swaps.

  • Instead of Coca-Cola or Pepsi, try La Croix La Cola.
  • Instead of sodas, try sparkling water (Trader Joe’s sells a variety of flavors - lemon, lime, berry, and pina colada to name a few).
  • Instead of Gatorade or Powerade, try water with fruit infused (think oranges, limes, or stawberries).
  • Instead of sweet tea, try iced tea with lemon. Or make iced tea with naturally sweet tea leaves (basically anything with licorice).
  • Instead of a caramel macchiato, try an Americano with milk.
  • Instead of energy drinks, try black coffee.


Processed Meats

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Processed meats are meats that have been preserved (by canning, curing, salting, smoking, or drying). Commonly consumed processed meats include sausages, hot dogs, salami, bacon, ham, corned beef, salted and cured meat, smoked meat, dried meat (think beef jerky), and canned meat.

Processed meats are associated with 8% of deaths related to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Patients often cite convenience and cost as a reason for turning to processed meats, which I completely understand.

The good news is there are healthy, affordable, and convenient alternatives to processed meats.  

Instead of making a ham sandwich or hot dog, try a nut butter and fruit sandwich on whole grain bread. Instead of beef jerky as a snack, try nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds are great this time of year). Or some veggies and hummus. Your heart and health will thank you.

Unprocessed Red Meats

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I know this one may surprise you.

Especially because some popular diets sing the praises of red meat.

The reality is red meat consumption is associated with 15% of deaths related to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

You may be thinking red meat was eaten by our ancestors. Which in some cultures is true. However, the quality of meat consumed by our ancestors was much different from what most people today consumed. The animals roamed free and ate grass, insects, and whatever else was available in the environment. Today most red meat is raised in factory farms and the nutrient profile of the meat is very different from the meat of our ancestors.

Instead of red meat, try to increase your intake of legumes. Beans and lentils have a rich and sturdy texture and can fill you up. Or try mushrooms. Mushrooms have a meat like texture and pick up the flavor of marinades well.

High Sodium

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Sodium. Salt. Table salt. Whatever you call it, too much is associated with 10% of deaths related to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Most salt in American diets come from processed foods (think processed meats, packaged foods) and fast food. If you avoid these, you should be in good shape.

Now What?

I love recommending foods to ADD to people’s diet instead of focusing on what to ELIMINATE.

But there are cases where you should eliminate or decrease your consumption of for your wellness.

Things you should eliminate entirely? Trans fats and sugar sweetened beverages.

Foods you should eliminate or decrease? Processed meats and red meat.

And salt is something you need to be mindful of.


So take an assessment of what you eat and determine where you can make tweaks to boost your wellness.

Until next week,
Skye

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Four Foods to Eat NOW

"What foods are good for my health?"


This is one of the most common questions I receive.

It’s also a loaded one. Because with few exceptions, I don’t believe foods are innately good or bad.

A food with a certain nutritional profile can be excellent for you in certain amounts — too much or too little can be a problem.

However, there are four foods that we know can decrease your risk of early death. The bad news is these foods are notoriously under consumed by Americans.

Where does this information come from? It comes from a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

So which foods should you eat to decrease your risk of early death? Read on for the details!
 

Nuts and Seeds

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Low nut and seed consumption is associated with nearly 10 percent of cardiovascular deaths.

That's HUGE.

Especially considering nuts and seeds are delicious.

Aside from eating nuts and seeds plain, there are easy ways to infuse more into your diet.

  • Blend almond butter/cashew butter/sunflower butter into your smoothies
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseed on your steel cut oats
  • Add shelled hemp seeds or chopped nuts to your salads
  • Blend walnuts or cashews into your favorite soups
  • Make homemade trail mix with raw nuts and seeds
  • Make a sunflower butter and fruit sandwich


Vegetables

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If you’re a regular around these parts you know I often sing the praises of vegetables. And for good reason.

Vegetables are one of the most nutrient dense food groups you can eat. Low consumption of veggies is associated with nearly 8 percent of all cardiovascular deaths.

The beauty of vegetables is there is such a wonderful variety and everyone can find ones they love.

A lot of my clients think salads are the only way to get vegetables. This misconception is easy to fix. Here are a few easy (and tasty) ways to get your veggies:

  • Blend fresh greens into your smoothies (spinach is particularly mild tasting when blended with fruit)
  • Roast carrots, sweet potatoes, and Brussel sprouts with rosemary and a small amount of oil
  • Make a succotash with corn, tomatoes, red peppers, and lima beans
  • Spiralize zucchini and carrots and use them with pasta sauce
  • Add shredded cabbage to noodles
  • Stir fry carrots, bamboo shoots, sugar peas, mushrooms, and water chestnuts


Fruit

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Most of my clients come to me thinking fruit has too much sugar so they avoid fruit. But still continue to add lots of sugar to their coffee, eat refined grains, indulge in several sweet snacks a day, and have foods they don’t even realize are loaded with sugar.

While small groups of people may need to limit fruit, it is pretty hard to eat too much fresh whole fruit.

Newsflash: the natural sugar in whole fresh fruit is not the problem. It’s all the added and refined sugar in food that’s the issue.

And low fruit consumption accounts for 8 percent of cardiovascular deaths.

How should you eat fruit?

Eat fruit in the whole and fresh state. This means eating fresh apples instead of apple juice. Or oranges instead of orange juice. And this means NOT adding sugar to your fruit.


Seafood

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Seafood is really getting at omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that are crucial for many bodily processes.

Low omega-3 fatty acid consumption is associated with 8 percent of cardiovascular deaths.

Certain seafood is rich in omega-3s. Typically, it is your fatty fish (like salmon). But there are other ways to get omega-3s. The easiest way is through algae consumption (eaten or taken in supplement form). Algae is an excellent option if you are concerned with fish contamination or you enjoy a vegan diet.

There are other ways to get omega-3s through diet, but they require your body to convert them first. This is less efficient than eating seafood or algae, but you still should consider the following foods:

  • seeds (ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds)
  • soybeans (tofu)
  • walnuts
  • vegetables (spinach, broccoli, tomatoes)


Now What?


I love recommending foods to ADD to people’s diet instead of focusing on what to ELIMINATE.

Now you know the best foods to eat for your health: nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruit, and seafood.

So take an assessment of what you eat and determine where you can add health boosting foods.
 

Until next week,
Skye