7 Foods to Avoid for a Healthier You

Some of the most popular health and wellness trends involve DIY recipes for fruit and vegetable smoothies, overnight oatmeal, and other similar health-conscious foods. Equally important as knowing which foods to pile on your plate, though, is also knowing which foods to steer clear of when trying to reach and maintain your health and fitness goals.

Here are seven common foods and ingredients to try to avoid for a healthier body.

1. Sugar

Sugar is lurking in so many different foods and drinks that it can be a challenge to avoid completely. Whenever possible, try to limit the amount of sugar that you consume, because sugar triggers a process called glycation, which has been linked with a variety of chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Refined Grains

Refined grains include white bread, white rice, and white flour. Unlike whole grains, refined grains have been modified so that they no longer include the wheat germ and bran. Because of this, refined grains contain very few essential nutrients and are therefore considered “empty calories.”

3. Vegetable Oils

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are considered “essential fatty acids” because the human body cannot produce them on its own and therefore needs to obtain them from external sources like the foods we eat. However, most Americans consume much higher amounts of omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s, which can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease.

Vegetable oils, such as soybean and canola oils, are very high in omega-6 fatty acids and trans fats, so try swapping out these ingredients for healthier options like olive or flaxseed oil.

4. Fried Foods

Most fried foods are fried in vegetable oils, which can raise “bad” cholesterol levels while lowering “good” cholesterol at the same time. Fried foods are also high in advanced glycation end products (see our note about glycation in #1), further contributing to their health risks.

5. Most Fruit Juices

It might seem like drinking fruit juice would be a healthy dietary choice, but the fact of the matter is that most fruit juices contain very high amounts of sugar, sometimes even more than a can of pop.

The average fruit juice contains over 45 grams of fructose, whereas most sodas contain around 50 grams.

6. Processed Cheese

Processed cheese products are so far removed from their traditional counterparts that they can hardly share the same name. Processed cheese is chock full of dyes, vegetable oils, dairy by-products, and preservatives–none of which you want in your daily diet.

7. Red Meat

As with most things in life, if you are going to eat red meat, do so in moderation. Studies have shown that regularly eating red meat can significantly increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

If you have specific questions or concerns about lowering your risk of developing or managing chronic conditions like these, the AHK Foundation’s community nurses would be happy to provide additional resources and personal health counseling.