3. Added Sugar
There are two main types of sugars — sugar that occurs naturally in foods like milk, vegetables and fruits, and refined sugar (aka simple sugar), which is added to foods for sweetness. Added sugar is any sugar that does not naturally occur in the food. Extra sugar causes the proteins in your body to be less functional and, as a result, directly ages your immune and arterial systems and even your joints (hello, arthritis). “The bad effects last a lot longer than the joy of the food,” says Dr. Roizen. “The joy of the food might last 10 minutes. The protein change lasts months.”
A food is likely to be high in added sugar if one of the following substances is first or second in the list of ingredients (or if several of them are present): brown sugar, corn sweetener, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, table sugar. Also watch out for concentrated fruit juice and expeller pressed organic rice extract. “All are really just sugar,” says Dr. Roizen. As for agave, neither is it any healthier than all of the other added sugars. The only difference is that agave offers more sweetness in smaller doses, so it’s a good way to reduce consumption.
When it comes right down to it, a sugar is a sugar is a sugar. Which means that syrups — corn, maple, malt and others — are as bad for you as the other added sugars discussed above. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a man-made sugar that does the same things as sugar, including increasing risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — including increased blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, increasing your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Unfortunately, HFCS can be found in a wide range of processed foods, from ketchup and cereals to crackers and salad dressings. It also sweetens just about all of the (regular) soda Americans drink.
5. Any grain but 100% whole grain
Whole grains are grains that have not been stripped of their outer layers, the source of many key nutrients, and haven’t been refined, which means they retain most of their vitamins and minerals. Whole grains contain a lot of fiber, which is important for preventing arterial aging and reducing the risk of cancer. The problem is that unless the bread or pasta you’re eating is made from 100 percent whole grain (and says so in the number one spot in the ingredient list), it’s not much better for you than white flour products that have been stripped of the healthy outer shell and germ, says Dr. Roizen.
When you eat these products (breads and pastas made with enriched, bleached, unbleached, semolina or durum flour), your body quickly converts this carbohydrate to sugar in your bloodstream and we’re back to the same health problems you get from consuming added sugars. One-hundred percent whole grains, meanwhile, take longer to convert to sugar and also stay in your intestines longer, which means you stay fuller longer.
— by Eileen Livers
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