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Trans fats were used in baked goods and other packaged products, and heart-healthy monos and polys got sidelined. That may partly explain why past studies have found that despite being high in fat, nuts might help you lose weight. In the Tufts study, participants ate whole-grain bread, cereals , pastas, and tortillas. Smart Sodium Swaps Packaged foods may be a big source of sodium, but the amount varies widely among brands even in the same product category. Lärabar Blueberry Muffin 1. We respect your privacy.
What you need to know about sugar, salt, fat, and gluten
That bit of nutritional subterfuge may have been at least partly responsible for 50 years of misleading public health advice.
And the resulting flood of packaged foods that were low in fat but high in sugars and refined grains may have contributed to the current epidemic of obesity and its related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, in the U. Today, the typical American diet is packed with huge amounts of added sugars: According to the most recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Americans eat about 17 teaspoons 73 grams of added sugars per day, on average, with teenagers consuming the most, about 20 teaspoons 82 grams.
Children under the age of 2 should consume no added sugars at all, the AHA advises. Added sugars are bad for you. A study of more than 1, adults found that the odds of being overweight or obese were 54 percent greater among individuals with the highest intake of sugars compared with those with the lowest intake. According to David Ludwig, M. Most sugars are a combination of fructose and glucose. And because insulin is a potent fat-storage hormone, too much insulin is linked to weight gain.
A analysis of 40 studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a higher sugar intake also meant higher levels of total cholesterol, LDL bad cholesterol, and triglycerides no matter how much one weighed. Another study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who got 17 to 21 percent of their calories from added sugars had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who got 8 percent or less.
About three-quarters of packaged foods on store shelves contain added sugars, and a few grams here and there can easily add up to more per day than you should be consuming.
Buy unsweetened versions of foods like cereal, oatmeal, and yogurt , and sweeten them with a little honey or sugar yourself if you need to. And yet, most Americans— including children —are consuming about 3, mg of sodium per day, according to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Experts say that sticking to that 2, mg is essential to lowering your risk of high blood pressure.
The excess then gets stored in the blood, which increases water retention and blood volume. All of that results in your heart having to work harder to pump blood, increasing the pressure on your arteries and causing them to stiffen. Research shows that following a DASH Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet—a plan lower in sodium, saturated fat, sugars, and processed food—that limits sodium to 2, mg a day can lower systolic blood pressure by about 7 points and diastolic by about 3.
You may have heard that the need to reduce sodium is controversial, but most experts agree that Americans eat too much salty stuff. What is in question is whether going below 2, mg daily is necessary, or realistic in our current food environment. A study published in the journal Circulation found that only 11 percent of the sodium in our diets comes from the salt we add to food ourselves, and about 71 percent comes from packaged and restaurant food.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 categories of food breads, pizza, sandwiches, cold cuts and cured meats, soups, burritos and tacos, savory snacks, chicken, cheese, eggs and omelets account for 44 percent of our overall sodium intake. A home-cooked meal allows you to control the salt shaker and to use whole foods—whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes—and stay below the 2, mg threshold. Packaged foods may be a big source of sodium, but the amount varies widely among brands even in the same product category.
Fat is a complicated topic, and well-intentioned efforts to simplify public health messages have only led to confusion. Cashews and olive oil were lumped into the same category as cheese and butter. But even back then, the research showed that different types of fats—monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated—had varied effects on health.
The thought was that a one-note message—cut fat—would be easier for the public to grasp and would automatically hit the real target: It did, but it also had unintended consequences. Instead, people traded steak for pasta, and food manufacturers used refined carbohydrates white flour and sugars in place of fat in processed foods.
Margarine—made from partially hydrogenated oils, a source of unhealthy trans fats —replaced butter on our morning toast. Trans fats were used in baked goods and other packaged products, and heart-healthy monos and polys got sidelined. Now, the fat facts are being scrambled again, with highly publicized studies suggesting that saturated fat may not be so bad for us.
And again, black-and-white thinking is poised to do some dietary damage. According to Frank Hu, M. Chan School of Public Health, we should still pay attention to our saturated fat intake.
The likely reason that some studies have not found an association between saturated fat and heart disease is that they did not take into account what was swapped in for the saturated fat.
On the other hand, swapping in unsaturated fats fish , nuts, olive oil or healthy carbs grains, legumes, produce for saturated fats does, in fact, protect your heart. When monounsaturated fats were subbed in, the risk dropped by 15 percent, and with healthy carbs by 9 percent. There was no change in heart risk in people who cut saturated fat but ate refined carbs in their place. We're not talking baby carrots and celery sticks, either. What's more, they're among the best disease-fighting foods.
Try including one or more of these in your meals every day. Nut-eaters also had a 14 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease during the study period. Nuts are highly satisfying, says Emilio Ros, M. That may partly explain why past studies have found that despite being high in fat, nuts might help you lose weight.
But aren't nuts high in calories? Yes, but not as high as you think. How to use them: An ounce is about 23 almonds, 18 cashews, or 14 walnut halves. In a study published in the American Clinical Journal of Nutrition, 81 volunteers agreed to eat only the food provided by researchers at Tufts University. The other half ate an identical diet—except whole grains replaced refined grains.
Those on the whole-grain diet had an uptick in their resting metabolism—the number of calories the body burns at rest—and excreted more calories than those eating refined grains, according to Phil Karl, Ph.
But this study provides evidence that they may work for you, rather than against you, if you're trying for a healthy weight. Ideally you want to eat them in their natural state—barley, brown rice, bulgur, farro , oats, quinoa, or wheat berries, for instance—as a side dish, in soup, or as a breakfast cereal. In the Tufts study, participants ate whole-grain bread, cereals , pastas, and tortillas. Popcorn counts as a whole grain. Just remember to go light on the salt and butter.
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are low in calories and high in fiber, so they help you feel full on less. A cup of whole strawberries, for instance, has just 46 calories; a cup of blueberries has But a study published in the British Medical Journal suggests the weight-loss benefits go beyond simple calorie counting.
That's because berries are rich in flavonoids—a group of antioxidant compounds found in the pigment of many plant foods. In the study, researchers at Harvard tracked , men and women for 24 years. They reported on their weight every two years and their eating habits every four years. Anthocyanins, the type of flavonoids in berries, appeared to have the most powerful effect. Maintaining a healthy weight grows increasingly important as we get older, says Consumer Reports' chief medical adviser Marvin M.