November 18, 2021
Clinical contributors to this story
Jason Sayanlar, MD contributes to topics such as Cardiac / Heart Health.
If you haven’t wondered if the foods you eat are really nourishing you, take the time to review your eating habits to make sure you’re meeting your nutritional goals.
âIt’s unreasonable to expect you to eat healthy foods 100% of the time, but for better health, try to eat nutritious foods at least 80% of the time. This means that sweets, snacks and other junk food should only be the occasional treat, rather than the bulk of your diet, âexplains Jason Sayanlar, MD, FACC, cardiologist at Hackensack University Medical Center.
For better health, try to limit the amount of foods you eat from these categories:
Foods with added sugar
Examples: Cookies, cakes, ice creams, candies, sweet breakfast cereals, flavored yogurt
Most Americans eat much more than the recommended amount of sugar each day. It can hide in places where you least expect it, like salad dressing, tomato sauce, or sliced ââbread. But if you have a muffin for breakfast and ice cream for dessert, you are consciously consuming sugar on a regular basis. Too much can lead to weight gain and increase your risk for diabetes.
To eat less sugar, limit sweets. Rather than snacking on sugary snacks throughout the day, try eating them just once a day or a few times a week. Read food labels and avoid items that list sugar as one of the top three ingredients.
Foods with added salt
Examples: Chips, pretzels, breads, crackers, canned soup, processed snacks
The American Heart Association recommends that adults limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day, but the average person gets more than double that. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease.
To reduce your daily salt intake, eat less processed and prepackaged foods, including canned foods and frozen meals. At mealtimes, use the pepper mill instead of the salt shaker when you want more flavor. And at the supermarket, read labels and choose low-sodium soup, salt-free nuts, and more.
Examples: White bread, white rice, fries, crackers, sweet breakfast cereals
Some of the staples in your diet – white pasta, white bread, white rice – aren’t as healthy as their whole-grain counterparts. Foods containing refined carbohydrates are devoid of fiber and other nutrients during the manufacturing process. Eating them can cause blood sugar spikes, leading to inflammation, weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes.
To cut down on refined carbohydrates, choose varieties of bread, pasta, rice, crackers, breakfast cereals, and other whole grain foods.
Examples: cold cuts, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, beef jerky
A plant-based diet is healthier for you than a diet containing an abundance of red meat, which contains saturated fat; Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease. But an occasional steak or burger is a better choice than deli meats like sausage or salami, which are high in salt and may contain nitrates or other chemicals. People who regularly consume processed meats are at greater risk of cancer or heart disease.
To cut down on processed meats, eat these salty and smoked foods only occasionally, rather than every day, and eat only half the usual amount. To further reduce saturated fat, limit your intake of red meat to just once a day and plan to eat it only a few times a week.
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The material provided by HealthU is intended to be used for general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your doctor for individual care.