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Too many people eat too much saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol. Even reducing these by small amounts can make us healthier. It can help us manage our weight better and reduce our risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers and chronic kidney disease.

Our appetite for foods sweet and salted can create health problems far beyond diabetes and hypertension. Salt can leach the calcium from our bones while sugar speeds up ageing and causes depression.

Packaged foods are anything that comes in a can, bottle, jar, or box. They often taste good because they are high in sugar and salt. Nutrition labels and ingredient lists can tell you if a food has added sugar or salt. 

How much is too much?

Each day, adults should not have more than:

  • 2,300 mg of sodium
  • 35g of sugar

Children should not have more than:

  • 2,300 mg of sodium
  • 26g of sugar

It is a good idea to limit foods with added sugars as much as possible. They are extra calories, without many nutrients.  

Look at the list of ingredients. If sugar is one of the first ingredients listed, chances are the food is high in added sugars. You can also check the front of the package—sometimes, labels will say “sugar-free” or “no added sugars.”

Sugar Has Many Names.

Watch for ingredients that are actually sugar. Below are a few that you should try to limit in your diet:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetenter
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup

Salt

Most of the salt we eat comes from processed and ready-to-eat foods, not from the salt shaker. Eating too much salt (also called sodium) can raise blood pressure and lead to other serious health problems. 

The More Salt We Eat, the More Salt We Want.

When we (including children) eat lots of salty foods, we learn to like salty flavors. Serving foods lower in sodium can help us learn to like foods with a less salty taste.

How can you avoid hidden salt?

  • Look for packages that say “reduced sodium,” “low sodium,” or “no salt added.”
  • Look at nutritional labels and compare brands. Sometimes a different brand of the same food will have much less salt.
  • When you cook, replace salt with other spices.
  • Drain and rinse canned beans.

Did You Know?

For the average person, eating less salt can reduce the risk of high blood pressure. That may reduce the risk of:

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Kidney damage

Eating foods high in potassium such as dark leafy greens may help lower blood pressure.

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