It is usually the tastiest and best-loved junk foods that are most deleterious to your health. Loaded with inordinate amounts of sugar, salt, fats, additives and preservatives, these tantalizing substances serve to entice your taste buds in an addictive manner. Junk foods are loaded with excess calories, packed with chemicals, very little nutrients, and designed to put on extra pounds for the unsuspecting junk food lover.
A routine diet of junk food leads to obesity, lifestyle conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. Regular consumption of soft drinks not only cause weight gain, but leaches out important minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the body, predisposing a person to osteoporosis or getting bone fractures.
It is very trendy to jump start your day by pulling up to a drive-in window and ordering a cup of coffee with double-double. A small cup of double-double weights in at 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 18 grams of carbohydrates. Order a large cup of coffee, and the content of calories, fat, and carbohydrates double. To change this habit, start ordering coffee with only one cream and sugar, then progressively working down to a cup of black coffee as your morning stimulant.
Starbucks is a great place for getting that morning pick-me-up caffeine, but graduating to a delicious Frappuccino constitutes having a dessert, as this beverage proffers one third of the daily recommended allowance for fat, with approximately 500 calories. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for fat is 66 grams, with no more than 20 grams from saturated fat. To lower your intake of calories and fat, opt instead for lightly blended coffee that has only 130 calories, .5 grams of fat, and 16 grams of sugar.
That morning cup of coffee would not be complete without a delicious doughnut. Eating a junk food for breakfast is the worst way to start off one’s day. Doughnuts have zero nutritional value, are fried, are full of sugar/white flour/trans fats. A store-bought doughnut contains about 200-300 calories, with approximately 35-40 grams of trans fat. Eating a doughnut is not filling, but does spike blood glucose levels, with an eventual sugar dips and resultant lethargy.
This is another class of beverage which is harmful to your health. The average American drinks about 56 gallons of soda a year. Soft drink consumption in children has doubled over the past ten years. A drink which is loaded with 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories, with 35-55 grams of caffeine, along with artificial colors and sulphites, tend to suppress appetites for healthy foods. This leads to numerous nutritional deficiencies, one of them being important minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Frequent soda consumption has been linked to obesity, heart disease, tooth decay, and osteoporosis. Replacing regular soft drinks with diet sodas are not a viable option as many are made with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. The jury is not in regarding the safety of prolific use of artificial sweeteners. Eliminating soft drinks from your diet is one of the easiest ways to better health.
Canned soup may not be your typical junk food but all the same, has junk food status. It is easy to prepare and consume, but has little nutritional content, and is loaded with salt and additives. A half can of Campbell’s soup renders between 640-850 mg of sodium, about a half day’s worth of what people should be consuming.
Although the RDA for sodium is 2400 mg(equal to one teaspoon of salt); a healthier level is actually 1000-1500 mg. If you must eat canned soup, make a healthier choice by purchasing sodium-reduced soups, much better for people with high blood pressure.
Data from the Centers for Disease and Prevention show that since most Americans consume a great deal of processed and fast foods, their daily intake of sodium is about 3400 mg, and only 5% of this salt-laden food comes from home cooking. Natural-occurring sodium from fresh food is acceptable and not a problem, but excess salt consumption derived from foods in restaurants and grocery stores can lead to heart disease.
Anything deep-fried is hazardous to your health, especially French fries. A raw potato is already high in carbohydrates and calories, not to mention its quick conversion into glucose and entrance into the bloodstream, with ability to raise insulin levels. They are cooked in high temperatures with trans fats.
This cooking process releases a cancer-causing compound called “acrylamate”. Even if potatoes are fried in vegetable oils such as canola, corn, or soybean, this exposure to oxygen causes the oil to go rancid, releasing large amounts of free radicals. Free radicals cause aging, inflammation, clotting, weight gain and potential cancer. Alternative medicine advises you to cook with coconut oil, as it appears that coconut oil does not become unstable when heated. According to Dr. Mercola, “one French fry is worse for your health than one cigarette”.
Along the same lines as French fries, chips are another favorite junk food Americans love to snack on. Most commercial chips contain trans fats, but some companies have gotten wise and switched to chips made without trans fats. However, the high temperatures used in making these chips still give off carcinogenic substances or toxins.
Pizza has become a staple food/meal for many American families; young people have no problems with eating pizza any time or on any day. In itself, pizza actually covers all food groups and can be considered nutritious. Yet, because it is laden with processed meats, few vegetables, and lots of saturated fat and salt from cheese and meats, it becomes detrimental to your health, a sure winner to clog your arteries.
If pizza is your weakness, choose pizza with very thin whole wheat crust, topped with grilled chicken, and an assortment of healthy vegetables such as spinach, pepper, mushroom, and onion, topped with low-fat mozzarella cheese. This is a much healthier version with less calories/fat/salt.
Burritos are full of rich flavors but bad for high blood pressure. A Chipotle Chicken Burrito with ingredients of tortilla, rice, pinto beans, cheese, chicken, sour cream and salsa come with 1000 calories, 18 gm of saturated fat, 2200 mg of sodium. It is equal to eating three 6″ BLT Classic Subs from Subway. Even leaving out the sour cream or cheese still renders 750 calories for a typical burrito.
Ice cream is the proverbial comfort food that is high in fat, cholesterol and carbohydrates. A better alternative might be frozen yogurt, but any way you eat it, it is not a healthy food.
A sure way to clog the arteries is having a big piece of cheesecake. You may not consider cheesecake a junk food, but it is a popular dessert item in many restaurants. A piece of cheesecake can set you back with 1000-1500 calories, with up to 48 grams of saturated fat – two and a half day’s worth of fat allowance. Plus, it is made with refined carbohydrates: sugar, cream, butter, white flour, plus chocolate if it is chocolate cheesecake.