According to the Krispy Kreme website, an average 3.5 ounce sugar doughnut weighs in with about 400 calories and contains few other nutrients besides fat. These sugary treats may satisfy your craving but it won’t satisfy your hunger as most of the calories come from fat.
“Eating a lot of refined sugar contributes to blood sugar ‘swings’ or extreme fluctuations,” eDiets Chief Nutritionist Susan Burke said.
2. Cheeseburger with fries The age-old classic may be delicious but think twice before sinking your teeth into that Big Mac. The saturated fat found in cheese burgers has been linked to heart attacks, strokes and some types of cancer.
“In fact, fast-food portions are gargantuan, almost double the calories per meal compared to 20 years ago,” Susan says. “Twenty years ago the average fast-food cheeseburger had about 300 calories. Today’s BK Whopper with cheese has 720. To burn the excess 420 calories, you’d have to run for 40 minutes. For example, in 1985 a medium French fry had 240 calories, 2.4 ounces. Today’s ‘medium’ is 6.9 ounces and 610 calories.
“This fast-food meal of cheeseburger and fries has way too many calories and fat grams, not to mention grams of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol and sodium.”
Let’s break down this meal. First, take the white-flour bun (refined carbohydrates), then add some processed cheese (saturated fat and trans fat, plus lots of additives and preservatives) and then top off with fried red meat (cholesterol and saturated fats). And let’s not forget about the condiments such as the always fattening mayonnaise.
Not sounding so appetizing anymore, huh? Oh, and let’s not forget about the infamous side dish. You cheeseburger will most likely come with a side of French fries, which is sadly the most popular vegetable dish in the U.S. Don’t kid yourself, French fries are not vegetables, they are extremely high in fat and contain a tiny amount of nutrients.
3. Fried Chicken and Chicken Nuggets With the recent class-action lawsuit between The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and KFC, the health risks posed by fried foods are becoming more public. The CSPI is suing the food chain for their use of cooking oil containing unhealthy trans fats. The lawsuit seeks to order KFC to use other types of cooking oils and to inform customers how much trans fats KFC’s food contains.
Foods cooked in highly heated oils (most notably partially hydrogenated oil) have been known to cause cancer, weight gain and other serious health risks if ingested regularly. A 10-piece chicken McNugget from McDonald’s has 420 calories, 24 grams of fat and 1120 milligrams of sodium. One Extra Crispy Chicken Breast from KFC has around 420 calories and eight grams of saturated fat. So unless you want to super size yourself, it’s best to make a clean break with fried foods.
4. Oscar Mayer’s Lunchables Sure they are convenient and easy, but boy are they unhealthy! These kid-marketed lunches are loaded with saturated fat and sodium. They usually contain highly processed meats and cheeses, white flour crackers and sugary treats. Lunchables get two-thirds of their calories from fat and sugar. And they provide lopsided nutrition since they contain no fruits or vegetables.
“They insidiously promote obesity by making kids think that lunch normally comes in a cellophane-wrapped box,” Susan says. “Parents are promoting their children’s obesity by buying these items. They’re expensive, too. Pack a sandwich and save dollars and health.”
5. Sugary Cereal Not all cereals are created equally. And while your kids might beg for the latest cookie or marshmallow chocolate surprise cereals, it is a safe bet they are about as healthy as a dessert. Keywords to look out for are puffed, dyed and sweetened.
Most kids’ cereals are so highly processed they no longer look like the grains they were originally made from. A healthy alternative is oatmeal. Although, if you are buying pre-packaged oatmeal make sure to check the label and see how much sugar it contains, you might be surprised.
“A little sugar isn’t a problem but when the first ingredient on the box is sugar, then watch out,” she said. “There is no fruit in Froot Loops. But the unsweetened original Cheerios or Rice Krispies are fine, and you can sweeten them naturally with blueberries and strawberries.”
6. Processed Meats. What falls under the category of processed meats? Hot dogs, sausage, jerky, bacon, certain lunch meats and meats used in canned soup products. Almost all processed meats have sodium nitrite added as a preservative.
A recent study conducted at the University of Hawaii found that sodium nitrite can act as “a precursor to highly carcinogenic nitrosamines — potent cancer-causing chemicals that accelerate the formation and growth of cancer cells throughout the body.” So eliminate these meats from your diet before they eliminate you!
7. Canned soup. Sometimes regarded as a healthy food, soups can be very deceiving. You must stay on your guard because many canned soups have high levels of trans fats, sodium and artificial preservatives such as MSG. Just one serving (which is roughly one cup) can have almost 1,000 milligrams of salt. Also, steer clear of soups that are cream-based, they can be high in calories and fat.
Susan says it is important to “read labels from back to front. Ignore the health claims, and instead focus on the ingredients and serving size. Watch out for hydrogenated fat (trans fat) and sodium. If you’re buying bread to go with you soup, the first ingredient should be whole grain — either whole wheat, rye or other grain. If it just says ‘wheat bread,’ that doesn’t mean whole wheat.”