Meats High in Nitrates and Saturated Fats
Processed meats such as cold cuts, bacon, sausages and hot dogs contain nitrates, chemical additives that preserve freshness. Nitrates have been linked to stomach cancer and other degenerative diseases. These fatty meat products are also full of unhealthy saturated fat that can raise levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease and strokes.
Ditch preserved meats altogether or look for ones that are advertised as "nitrate-free." Buy meats low in saturated fats such as chicken and turkey or eat more fish, like salmon or tilapia, rich in healthy omega-3 fats. If you must have red meat, choose lean cuts like sirloin or tenderloin.
Ingredients You Can't Pronounce
Does ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate or partially hydrogenated soybean oil sound appetizing to you? Follow this rule of thumb: if a food product is made of stuff you need a course in chemistry to comprehend or if you can't pronounce the first 5 ingredients, don't let it near your cart.
Stay focused on buying whole foods comprised of only one ingredient. Instead of snacking on neon-orange cheese curls, slice up some carrots or celery sticks. Invest in an air popper and enjoy fiber-rich popcorn. Make homemade veggie chips: cut up kale, thinly slice beets, sweet potatoes or yams, sprinkle them with herbs and a little olive oil and bake in the oven.
Fake Health Foods
Fake health foods are those deceptive foods, billing themselves as "low in fat", like certain cookies, salad dressings or yogurt brands. Look closely at their labels. To make up for flavor, these items are inevitably high in sugar or salt. Other tricky foods include packaged breads and crackers with labels stating "contains whole grains." This often translates into considerably less fiber than 100 percent whole grain products.
Again, choose real foods as much as possible. If it's a sweet tooth you need to satisfy, buy tasty dried fruits, such as apricots or mangos.
Canned Foods High in Sodium
Eighty percent of our sodium intake comes from processed and canned foods. In fact, many canned foods are so chock-full of salt, they contain half or more of your daily recommended intake. A diet high in sodium is dangerous since it can lead to high blood pressure.
Instead of buying canned soups, try making your own simple versions, like a healthy carrot soup
or hearty lentil
. If you don't have the time to cook, purchase canned soups low in sodium.
To lower your overall sodium intake, try seasoning foods with more herbs, both dried and fresh. You'll rely less on table salt for flavor.
Next: Dr. Oz's longevity grocery list
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