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Unhealthy Foods

Unhealthy or Junk food is an informal term applied to some foods that are perceived to have little or no nutritional value (i.e. containing "empty calories"); to products with nutritional value, but also have ingredients considered unhealthy when regularly eaten; or to those considered unhealthy to consume at all.

Junk foods are typically ready-to-eat convenience foods containing high levels of saturated and / or trans fats, salt, or sugar, and little or no fruit, vegetables, or dietary fiber; and are considered to have little or no health benefits. Common junk foods include salted snack foods like chips (crisps), candy, gum, most sweet desserts, fried fast food and carbonated beverages (sodas) as well as alcoholic beverages. High-sugar cereals, particularly those targeted at children, such as Fruit candies, are also classified as junk food.

Junk food consumption alters brain activity in a manner similar to addictive drugs. After many weeks on a junk food diet, the pleasure centers of our brains become desensitized, requiring more of the junk food for pleasure.

Junk or unhealthy fast foods have become a part of our busy lifestyle. Fast food restaurants are popular because they serve filling foods that taste good and are not that heavy on pockets. However, the reason for the fast foods being cheap can be subjected to the use of cheaper ingredients such as high fat meat, refined grains, and added sugar and fats, instead of nutritious foods such as lean meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

Fast foods are not completely bad but eating too much over a long period of time can lead to several health problems. The constant stress of missing nutrients, food additives, environmental pollutants, and pesticides will eventually take its toll and the end result would be premature aging, disease, and other health problems. Research shows that most modern killer diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are definitely related to your diet and lifestyle.

Foods are considered "Unhealthy foods" if they:
• Provide empty calories – typically all fried and sweetened foods
• Don't have enough fiber – all bakery and processed foods which are made of refined products.
• Take nutrients from your body and leave you more nutritionally deficient than before you ate them – caffeinated or carbonated drinks that draws calcium from bone.
• Do damage to your body in one or more ways – foods containing hydrogenated fat like margarine, that converts to trans fat after being heated to a high temperature or re-used, is the culprit for causing obesity, hypertension and heart diseases.
Unhealthy Foods to Avoid include canned soups, baked products, refined cereal meals, donuts, vegetable and non-veg fries, fatty and fried snacks, Genetically Modified Foods, hydrogenated fats and Trans-fats, ice cream and frozen desserts, processed and refined foods, processed cheese products, sausages, hot dogs, cured meats, and luncheon meats, soda pop and other artificial beverages, etc.

Negative effects of consuming fast food:
• Consumption of extra calories much more than the daily recommended quantity due to deep frying of the foods or use of fatty dressings or toppings and also for the heavy portion size being consumed may ultimately lead to obesity and other lifestyle diseases.
• Presence of saturated and trans fat in foods like fries, cheese, mayonnaise, etc poses great threat on our heart health and cholesterol profile.
• Use of sugar and sodium as salt or other additive in excess may give a risk of high blood pressure or high blood sugar.
• Fast foods generally lack fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains and hence are deficient in vitamins and minerals thereby affecting our immunity and endurance to fight lifestyle diseases.
• Additives are used liberally in the fast foods to enhance the appearance, texture, flavor and palatability of these foods. But some additives might prove extremely harmful. For instance mono-sodium glutamate, commonly known as ajinomoto, used as flavoring for Chinese recipes is considered carcinogenic.
Fast food costs relatively little and tastes good, but the negative effects on physical health last much longer than these immediate concerns. It's helpful to remember that with fast food, moderation is important and if you're having fast food more than once a week, try to make healthier choices.

Here are some tips for avoiding unhealthy foods:
• Plan ahead for each day so that your menu is nutritious and you get time for its preparation in advance and avoid hanging on unhealthy foods.
• Pack your lunches the night before rather than waiting until you're already behind schedule in the morning.
• Avoid fatty and highly salted toppings.
• Choose oil-based dressings instead of creamy salad dressings.
• Use mustard or ketchup instead of mayonnaise.
• When ordering pizza, add veggies instead of meat, and get thin crust instead of deep dish.
• Top your sandwiches with veggies such as onions, lettuce, and tomatoes instead of red meat or extra cheese.
• Avoid using salt shaker.
• Choose foods that are broiled, steamed or grilled over fried.
• Choose clear veggie soups over cream based.
• Avoid choosing dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, creamy or crispy as they are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats or sodium.
• Practice portion control by ordering small entrιe portions.
• Don’t get lured of attractive deals on combos or box meals. Even if a fast food restaurant uses healthy ingredients, they still usually give you a lot more food than you need and eating too much of any kind of food can lead to weight gain.
• Have a salad or soup instead of fries.
• Choose water, low-fat milk, or diet sodas instead of regular sodas, fruit drinks, milkshakes, or whole milk which can be a huge source of hidden calories and sugar.
• Instead of a slice of pie or cookie for dessert try fruit and yogurt.
• Enjoy your meal by relishing every bite. Though the fast food is known as a meal on the go, the distraction of driving or working may curtail you from paying attention to the quantity of food you are having and you may over eat.
• Never shop on an empty stomach.
• Try to satisfy your hunger pranks or cravings with the healthy snacks like fruits or whole grain cereal bars.
• Use a search engine to get free nutrition information online so that you may preview your menu choice and modify it to a healthier choice.
Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. ~Doug Larson


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