We are what we eat so it’s vital that we make the right choices in our diet to enjoy optimum health.
Many of us already know what’s good for us but are unaware of an increasingly growing list of foods to avoid that can increase our life chances and longevity.
Stay healthy with a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and good fats, and avoid those processed foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar.
Here are 5 foods to avoid for optimum health – but remember, like everything, a little in moderation is fine.
1. Foods Heavy in Trans Fats or Hydrogenated Fats
Trans fats can be found at naturally low levels in some foods such as meat or dairy but artificial trans fats, created when oil is hydrogenated, are a concern when consumed regularly. Found mainly in baked goods such as biscuits and cakes and ready meals to give them a longer shelf life, trans fats can raise cholesterol and increase your risk of a stroke or heart attack. Check all labels carefully and make trans fat one of your foods to avoid.
2. Sugar-Rich Foods
This is not simply about choosing to put two heaped spoonfuls in your tea or coffee but also checking exactly how much sugar is in those soft drinks, chocolate bars or muffins it’s easy to pack away daily. Too much sugar will cause tooth decay and also increase the risk of obesity, acne and chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes. Aim for optimum health by swapping water or fruit juice with no added sugar for carbonated drinks and fresh fruit or jam for biscuits and cakes.
3. Vegetable Cooking Oils
Polyunsaturated fats are actually healthy. However, in the form of vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, they are high in omega-6 fatty acids but low in the more health-friendly omega-3 fats. Switch to mono-saturates such as olive oil for cooking. And look for alternative sources of polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and whole grains such as oats and quinoa.
4. Processed Meats
Research has proven a clear link between certain types of cancer and the regular consumption of processed meat. Sausages, bacon, cured and smoked meats such as ham are all processed and fall into the category of foods to avoid or at least eaten sparingly. Also, try to avoid eating too much red meat and when you do eat it, choose organic meat or cuts from grass-fed animals.
5. Dairy Products
Milk, cheese, and butter contain important nutrients that promote health, but rising numbers of people are reporting an intolerance to milk and dairy products, manifested in the likes of stomach upsets, skin rashes, and breathing problems. Eating a lot of butter or high-fat cheeses can also cholesterol in the blood. If you want to achieve optimum health, look for alternatives such as low-fat spreads and yogurts.
A balanced diet is, of course, the best way to stay healthy and fit. So by cutting back on foods to avoid, you can eat and drink your way to optimum health.