Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Sugar Ain’t So Sweet After All

Another problem with processed foods in that the main ingredient in most of this processed food is a whole lot of sugar. The typical American today consumes seven tablespoons of sugar a day in processed foods, more than half as much as thirty years ago.

Grocery store shelves are crammed with all sorts of foods that contain way too much sugar. Yeah, these foods—such as sugary snacks, refined grains, pizza, canned soup, fruit drinks, canned foods, and sweetened yogurt—might taste better than healthier choices…(no, not might taste better…most actually do).

But are the possible health risks of eating too much sugar really worth that moment of decadence.

For years, nutritional guidelines have focused on saturated fats and cholesterol, but perhaps this has been one huge mistake.

We have found that in order to meet consumer expectations as far as fat content, food companies have added more and more sugar in order to make their foods still taste good. Some of these foods get about 25 percent of their calories from added sugars.

In fact, at least forty percent of the money—more than $1 trillion annually—that we as Americans spend on  healthcare each year are spent treating diseases that are directly related to the overconsumption of sugar. The sugar epidemic in the United States has gotten to the point that the FDA has set an “official” recommendation that we should all be limiting our daily sugar intake to a no more than ten percent of our daily calories.

There are actually many health risks associated with eating too much added sugar. These include…

  • Cancer….Sugar is responsible for an estimated 500,000 cancer cases worldwide each year.
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Obesity

And remember, just because the ingredient list on any food item that you might be looking at doesn’t actually contain the word “sugar,” there may be tons of sugar in that product anyway.

Food manufacturers like to avoid the taboo word “sugar” by listing ingredients such as…

  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Sugar
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Fiber–The How-Nots

So now that we have looked at exactly what fiber is, why we need it, and some of the best sources for getting the fiber that we all need, let’s finish this series of posts by looking at a few ways NOT to try to get the fiber that you need.

 

Taking a fiber supplement

Many people think that taking a fiber supplement is a quick way to reach your recommended fiber amount each day, but this is not the best solution. Sure a supplement can be used to start gettomg the fiber that you need, but fiber supplements will never take the place of real foods.

Fiber supplements come in a variety of forms—including powders you that are dissolved in water or added to food, chewable tablets, and wafers.

More drawbacks to getting your fiber from supplements instead of actual fiber-rich foods include…

  • not getting the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients offered by high-fiber foods….
  • not helping you manage your weight because they don’t offer the same feeling of being full as  high-fiber foods\
  • possible interactaction with certain medications—such as certain antidepressants, cholesterol-lowering medications, and warfarin, as anticoagulation drug

 

Fast Food

Fast food may seem like a cheap and convenient way to eat (and not have to cook), but most fast food meals are packed with calories, sodium, and unhealthy fat with little or no dietary fiber.

Even a seemingly healthy salad from a fast food restaurant is often light on fiber. In fact, iceberg lettuce provides less than one gram of fiber per cup. (Remember always choose the darker greens).

Here is some advice to making a “healthy” fast food run…

  1. Choose a veggie burger if available. Veggie burgers usually contain two or three times more fiber than a beef patty
  2. Choose nuts or salad instead of fries or potato chips.
  3. Choose whole wheat breads or buns
  4. Look for salads that include other vegetables, nuts, and legumes
  5. Select beans as a side dish

 

Processed Foods

Many manufacturers, no, make that most manufacturers are way more interest in profit margin instead of the health of their customers. These food companies try to project a healthier image for their products, even though the foods themselves are actually not healthy at all.

For example, just how healthy to you think that foods marketed as high-fiber alternatives—such as a Kellogg’s To Go Milk Chocolate Breakfast Shake, FiberPlus Antioxidants Chocolatey Peanut Butter Chewy Bar, Fiber One Double Chocolate Cookie or 90 Calorie Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Weight Watchers Chocolate Crème Cake, or a Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle ice cream bar—really are…especially when compared to clean food alternatives.

Many food items that claim to contain high amounts of fiber—such as Fiber One bars, cereals, instant oatmeal, pasta, and English muffins—actually have added fiber in them that aren’t good fiber sources at all.

The food industry claims that these additives are beneficial for getting the fiber that each of us needs, but these additives will never replace the nutritional value of fiber-rich foods.

And we all know that simply adding one of the following fiber doesn’t exactly turn cookies, brownies, bars, and shakes into beans, bran, berries, and broccoli.

A few of the additives that the Food and Drug Administration is currently studying that are commonly added to processed foods that are available on grocery store shelves include…

  • Bamboo Fiber
  • Calcium Polycarbophil
  • Gum Acacia
  • Inulin
  • Litesse
  • Maltodextrin
  • Methylcellulose
  • Modified Starches
  • Polydextrose
  • Resistant Wheat Starch
  • Retrograded Corn Starch
  • Soluble Corn Fiber
  • Wheat Dextrin
  • Xylooligosaccharides
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Fiber—The How Else?!

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Okay, now we know specifically which fruits and vegetables can help us reach our DV of fiber, but what else can help us reach this daily goal, or the goal of getting seven to ten grams of fiber at each meal.

Let’s take a look…

Legumes

Black Beans...Black beans are a nutrient-dense legume that contain fifteen grams of fiber per cup, as well as other important nutrients—such as protein, thiamine, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, folate, flavonoids, and antioxidants.

Chickpeas...One cup of chickpeas contains 12.5 grams of fiber per ½ cup, (but also 400 calories), as well as other important nutrients such as protein, copper, folate, manganese, omega-6 fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chickpeas provide 84 percent of your daily recommended amount of manganese per cup. Manganese is important for helping you have the energy you need each day.

Edamame...Edamame contains four grams of fiber per ½ cup.

Green Peas...One cup of cooked peas contains 8.8 grams of fiber, as well as other important nutrients—such as vitaminC, vitamin K, vitamin B6, thiamine, manganese, folate, vitamin A, protein. Green peas are also packed with powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and phytonutrients.

Kidney Beans…Kidney beans contain 5.7 grams of fiber per ½ cup. Kidney beans also contain 7.7 grams of protein…(more on protein later)…

Lentils...Lentils contain 15.6 grams of fiber per cup, as well as other key nutrients such as protein, iron, manganese, phosphorous, and folate. If fact, lentils are one of the top 10 high-folate foods. Folate is essential for pregnant women, individuals with liver disease and people on certain medications.

Lima Beans…One cup of lima beans contains 13.2 grams of fiber, as well as other important nutrients—such as copper, manganese, folate, phosphorous, protein, vitamin B2, and vitamin B6. In addition to the outstanding fiber per serving, lima beans offers nearly 25 percent of the daily recommended iron for women.

Navy Beans...Navy beans are by far one of the best sources of fiber—containing over nineteen grams of fiber per cup, which is 34 percent of your daily recommended fiber intake.

Refried Beans…Refried beans contain 4.4 grams of fiber per ½ cup.

Split Peas…Split peas contain sixteen grams—over half of the recommended intake—of fiber per ½ cup, as well as a third of the folate recommended daily, and many other important nutrients as well—such as protein, thiamine, folate, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6 fatty acids…(and, no, split peas are not simply green peas that have been split).

Sugar Snap Peas…Sugar snap peas contain four grams of fiber per cup.

Nuts and Seed

Almonds…One cup of unroasted almonds contain 11.6 grams of fiber, as well as other important nutrients—such as protein, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, riboflavin, and omega-6 fatty acids. Be sure to choose  almonds that are labeled as raw, natural, or unroasted to get more fiber for your calories.

Flax Seeds…Whole flaxseeds offer up to seven grams of fiber per two tablespoons.m as well as other important nutrients—such as protein, thiamine, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Chia Seed…One ounce of chia seeds contains 10.6 grams of fiber, plus many other important nutrients—such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids..

Pistachios…One ounce of pistachios contains 2.8 grams of fiber, along with 6 grams of protein.

Walnuts…One cup of walnuts contains 7.8 grams of fiber, as well as other important nutrients—such as protein, manganese, copper, omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. Walnuts have been shown to improve verbal reasoning, memory and mood and are believed to support good neurologic function.

Okay, as a newbie nutritional novice, I didn’t exactly see whole grains on my food pyramid, but who in their right mind would bypass any benefit that could be attained from the one category of food that probably got us in the most trouble in the first place—BREAD and PASTA!!! So…here’s the “whole” story…

Whole Grains

Barley…One cup of Okaybarley contains nine grams of fiber.

Brown Rice…Brown rice contains four grams of fiber per cup.

Bulgur…Bulgur contains four grams of fiber per 1/2 cup.

Cereal—Cereals such as Bran Flakes, Fiber One, and All-Bran can at least six grams of fiber to your diet. When shopping for a good cereal that contains fiber, look for cereals that have at least 6 grams of fiber per serving. For example, Fiber One contains 14 grams of fiber in each 1/2 cup…All-Bran contains 10 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup. One cup of Bran Flakes contains 7 grams…One cup of Shredded Wheat contains six. Finally one cup of cooked oatmeal contains four grams of fiber.

You could also try adding a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal. Dry wheat bran contains six grams of fiber per 1/4 cup.

Also try adding crushed bran cereal or unprocessed wheat bran to muffins, cakes, and cookies.

Psyllium Husk...Start adding psyllium husk to gluten-free baked goods, such as breads, pizza dough, and pasta….(more on this later)…

Whole Grain Bread…When shopping for a good cereal that contains fiber, look for cereals that have at least 6 grams of fiber per serving

Whole-Grain Crackers

Whole-Grain Flour-–Start substituting whole-grain flour for half or all of the white flour, since whole-grain flour is heavier than white flour. In yeast breads, use a bit more yeast or let the dough rise longer.

Whole-Wheat Pasta…Whole wheat spaghetti contains four grams of fiber per cup.

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