We’re trained to think that all dairy products are created equal. We also believe that if it’s dairy-based, it must be healthy. That belief couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the biggest culprits is yogurt. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that eating yogurt made no real impact on subjects’ overall health. But what about the probiotics, you might ask. We’re told yogurt is full of them and we need them for good gut health. Doesn’t yogurt reduce your risk of diabetes? Significantly, this study was based on the perception of the subjects. It didn’t measure whether bone density improved or the probiotic effects of yogurt.
The real fact is that yogurt can be good for you. It depends on what type of yogurt you’re eating. There are many different types of yogurt. Some are full fat while others have reduced fat. Some are sweetened, others are unsweetened. The obvious, glaring culprit is sweetened yogurt. The sugar or artificial sweeteners added to it are harmful to your body. Reduced fat yogurt has plenty of flavors added to it to make up for the less palatable taste. These are not natural flavoring agents, so they don’t do your body any good at all. Extra sugar is added to reduced-fat yogurt to improve the taste as well.
If you want to keep yogurt in your diet for its probiotic benefits and bone-strengthening properties, you can. But don’t by low-fat flavored yogurt. Full fat, plain yogurt is very good for you. Add it to muesli for a fiber-rich breakfast. Or add some fresh fruit toppings to it to give it flavor the natural way.
For most of us, peanut butter brings back memories of childhood. They are fond memories of sandwiches and cookies, and they make us feel good. There are days where nothing can replace a good old PB&J sandwich. Over the last few years, much as been made of the fat content of peanut butter. People began to avoid it to lose weight.
Finally, in what seemed like an answer to prayer, reduced-fat peanut butter was launched. And we ate plenty of it. It tasted like regular peanut butter, but the reduced fat levels meant it was healthy, right? Wrong. Reduced-fat peanut butter is unlikely to have any noticeable effect on your weight. And its potential impact on your long-term health are nothing to get excited about. In fact, they may be cause for concern more than anything else.
Ask yourself this question. How does reduced-fat peanut butter taste so similar to normal peanut butter? The answer is quite simple. A whole lot of sugar has been added to the peanut butter to make it taste better. Without the additional sugar, reduced-fat peanut butter would taste bland, and no one would want to eat it. Increased levels of sugar are harmful to your body. They have an adverse effect on your weight. They can result in obesity. In the long-run, they can lead to conditions such as diabetes.
It’s a better idea to eat regular peanut butter. Yes, it does contain fat. But no, not all of it is unhealthy fat. Some of the fat in peanut butter is unsaturated. This is the healthy fat that your body needs to survive. Some of the fat in peanut butter is not healthy, this is true. But it poses less of a risk than the added sugars in reduced-fat peanut butter.
Whether you’ve had a long day at work or you can’t face cooking for one, frozen meals are an attractive prospect. You can buy them in bulk and keep them in the freezer. You don’t need to put any effort into preparing them. All you have to do is heat and eat. The fact that the meals are frozen is not what makes them unhealthy. Freezing doesn’t make significant changes to the nutritional value of the food before freezing. It doesn’t change how much fat, protein, carbohydrates, sugar, or fiber the food contains. The key, therefore, is to what was in the meal before it was frozen.
When you’re buying frozen meals, read the label with careful attention. Many frozen ‘ready’ meals contain high levels of sodium and artificial flavors. They also include a lot of sugar and saturated fats. Those that contain a lot of vegetable oil are full of polyunsaturated fatty acids which are bad for you. The most notorious culprits are frozen pizzas, fried chicken, snack rolls, and breakfast sandwiches. Any breaded meat such as fish sticks, crumbed chicken, etc. are not suitable for your body.
All the artificial flavoring and colorants added to frozen meals can make them look and taste good. But that does not make them healthy at all. Frozen ready meals are often highly processed, which means they have lost a lot of their vitamin and mineral content before freezing.
Another problem that frozen meals cause is the portion size. The portion size of a frozen meal is small. Eating one will not satisfy your appetite for more than a few hours. Then, when you’re hungry again, you’ll be looking for snacks late in the evening which your body can’t metabolize. These unhealthy eating habits can lead to conditions such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Few people had a slice of pizza and disliked it. In fact, a lot of people can’t get through a week without a pizza ‘fix.’ The number of takeout pizza outlets we have access to is a testament to this. When you look at a delicious slice of pizza, you want to justify its healthiness. There are plenty of vegetables on it; cheese is good for you, etc. These are just some of the ways people think when they want to believe that pizza is good for you. Unfortunately, this is not the truth of the matter.
Pizza is full of calories, fat, and salt. It’s the food of choice for many. Children and teens eat it at school or when they go out. Parents bring home a pizza after a long day at the office. We’ve all seen the TV shows where dinner was a disaster, so the family orders pizza instead. The other thing about pizza that makes it a dietary problem is that few people can eat it in moderation. We develop the mentality that the box needs to be ‘cleaned out’ as soon as it arrives. This leads to overeating.
The fats and oils in pizza contribute to obesity. The result of obesity is heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. The fats also help high cholesterol levels which are very bad for your heart. The high levels of salt (sodium) in pizza can lead to high blood pressure.
Not all pizzas are the same. Some are unhealthier than others. If you’re buying pizza in a shop, read the labels and compare them. The toppings on pizza can also affect how healthy they are. If you include vegetable toppings and healthy, unprocessed meats like anchovies, your body will get some nutritional benefit from pizza.
Let’s face it, we all love a donut with our coffee at work. And who can say no to cookies and cake on somebody’s birthday? Well, who can say no to them on just about any occasion, to be honest? But when we look at the list of ingredients they contain, the jury is in. And the verdict is that these foods don’t do your body any good at all.
Donuts are delicious. Just the smell of them can get your stomach growling to telling you it’s hungry. But they contain a triple threat when it comes to unhealthy ingredients. They include refined flour which is of little or no nutritional value when compared to whole grain products. Donuts contain a lot of sugar. If you have donuts with delicious sticky toppings,
it’s even worse. Too much sugar leaves your body struggling to break it down and use it. It often gets stored as fat. Eventually, exposing your body to that much sugar can lead to it no longer being able to process or store it. This will bring about the onset of diabetes. The final ‘fatal’ ingredient in donuts is trans-fat. This comes from the submersion of donuts in oil during the preparation process. It’s estimated that a donut contains 10-20g of fat. And that’s unhealthy fat, not healthy fat.
As enjoyable and donuts and other divine baked treats may be, the key is to enjoy them only very occasionally. Making them part and parcel of your daily diet will lead to obesity. Unfortunately, a lot of people turn to these foods when they’re eating emotionally. They are ‘comfort’ foods. But it pays to remember that the comfort they provide is temporary but the inconvenience they cause in the long-term can be life-changing.
Additional Tips to Live Longer
Practice exercise 3-4 times a week. Light exercise like fast-paced walking will do. However, if you can add swim or other cardio exercises it is even better.
Make sure to avoid stress. In order to do so, add yoga, mindfulness, Pilates, or meditation to your weekly routines if you wish to live longer. Stress will balance out and you will be able to enjoy your life at its best!
Keep a healthy and balanced diet throughout. Make sure to eat fresh produce, unprocessed meat, and drink plenty of fluids.
Avoid all the foods above and in general, avoid anything that has unpronounceable ingredients!