Foods that should be locked up? Our experts name some unusual suspects.
By Jennifer Pinkerton – Prevention Health Magazine
Are there foods that should be locked up? Experts name some unusual suspects Prevention Health Magazine
I ate dried fruit as a child, but it actually made me hungrier. Banana chips were my brother’s favourite—but those are deep-fried! I don’t eat dried fruit at all anymore because it contains sulfides, which preserve dehydrated fruit. Manufacturers also often package it with oil to stop the pieces from sticking together. The oil is sometimes partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and may contain trans fats. Another problem: you can never stop at one or two pieces like you do with fresh fruit. Instead, I tend to eat about eight pieces. That’s a lot of sugar!
I think everyone who experimented with alcohol when they were younger has tried these trendy cocktails. I had a few back in my day, but the next-day hangovers were beyond repair! My family is from England, and alcohol was never a big deal, but when we did drink, we usually had spirits. Now when I choose alcoholic beverages, I go for good-quality wines that provide lots of antioxidants, and I drink in moderation. Premixed drinks just offer poor-quality alcohol and loads of kilojoules.
Any food with chocolate chips is probably made from compound chocolate, which is cheaper, has a longer shelf life and is easier to work with than quality chocolate. Life’s too short to be eating bad chocolate! Choc chips are waxy and have a higher melting point than real chocolate does, so when they land on your tongue, they don’t dissolve as they should—or have the same delicious flavour. They don’t contain the healthy fats you find in the cocoa butter of good-quality chocolate. So I give the thumbs down to choc-chip products.
I’d rather have a wedge of a sensational camembert than one that doesn’t really hit the spot. Some of the cheaper versions of what should be a creamy, soft, ripened cheese (and which cost around $4.50 per 125 g), look and taste like rubber. The prices of the good ones start at about $7 for 125 g. Yes, per kilo, they’re more pricey, but you need only 50 to 100 g, and your tastebuds are in heaven! Enjoy good camembert at room temperature, when it starts to sag a little and balloon out at the side—its texture and flavour are just wonderful.
I tend to avoid quick-cook porridges because their glycaemic index (GI) is getting higher and higher. In their efforts to make food more convenient, manufacturers have cut oats so finely that even so-called traditional oats now cook in five minutes. As a result, their GI has risen from 50 to about 85—a real shame. Real oats look like the ones you see in muesli bars; they’re thick-cut and take at least 10 minutes to cook. Your body also takes longer to absorb them, so they make you feel satisfied long after breakfast is over.
Although they may provide a satisfying crunch, all rice crackers are extremely high in salt. Otherwise, they’d have all the flavor of cardboard! They also have a high GI—as do many crisp breads. I give these crackers a miss most of the time; you have to eat a million of them to feel satisfied! Instead, I opt for a low-GI carbohydrate, such as a slice of wholegrain bread or a good sourdough. Finding low-GI carbs can also be tricky when you’re dining out, but brown-rice sushi is becoming more available and has become my snack of choice.
Chewing gum makes me incredibly hungry: the action of chewing tells my body that I’m going to start digesting something. It gears up and starts its insulin response, and before I know it, I’m hungrier than I was before! On top of that, a lot of gum contains artificial sweeteners. And having more than one piece may produce a laxative effect, which can create bloating, wind and discomfort. I used to accept people’s offer of chewing gum when I feared I had coffee breath, but it didn’t really make me feel good. It just made me want to eat!
When I was a kid, my favorite soft drink was Fanta. But as my nutrition knowledge grew, I discovered that soft drinks are loaded with sugar, coloring, additives and preservatives. Now I won’t put soft drinks in my body. (They’re not great for his teeth, either.) Instead, I’ve encouraged him to drink milk, plain water and mineral water. Although mineral water is higher in sodium than plain water is, it’s still a better alternative than other sugary drinks.
As a young kid, I was a big fan of white bread. But around the age of 12, I made the switch to multigrain because of its fibre, iron and zinc content—apparently, These days, my kitchen is always stacked with wholegrain-bread varieties; I just won’t have anything else. Two slices of regular white bread give you only 1 to 3 g of fibre, but the same amount of a rye or multigrain variety (such as Bergen, Helga’s Seed Sensations or Country Life Organic Rye) gives you more than 6 g.
Butter and Margarine
I used to enjoy margarine on toast, but then I looked into how manufacturers produce it; it’s just not a natural product. Essentially, liquid oil becomes a solid through hydrogenation. This creates trans fats, which can increase ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. I also avoid butter; research strongly links its saturated-fat content to heart disease—a message we’ve been hearing for the past 10 to 15 years. I opt for natural plant spreads, such as hummus, and 100-per-cent-nut spreads, like natural peanut butter or almond butter.
My parents are European, so we used to eat quite a bit of ham and salami. But since I’ve found out about the high nitrate content of processed meats, I’ve banned my family from eating them. Nitrates (which you can identify by the numbers 249 to 252 on food labels) are the preservatives that give processed meat its nice pink appearance. Because the World Cancer Research Fund strongly links nitrates with bowel cancer, I’ve dropped the sausage in favor of freshly cooked meat; poultry; and plant proteins, such as lentils and tofu.
Cream and Sour Cream
When I was younger, I loved to pour fresh cream on hot desserts, and I often enjoyed sour cream with stroganoffs, stews and nachos. But cream is way too high in saturated fat, and you don’t get much nutritional value in return. These days, I’m more inclined to have yoghurt with my dessert, but I still limit the amount I indulge in. For example, I cook with Carnation Light and Creamy Evaporated Milk or a low-fat natural yoghurt. I end up with a creamy result that’s much the same, but with far fewer dangerous fats.