When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, it's crucial to be mindful of certain foods that can seem healthy but are, in fact, high in sodium or sugar.
High sodium content foods
Foods such as soup and condiments. Soupy dishes such as fish soup or noodle soup might seem like healthier food fare, but in fact they are laden with sodium. One bowl of chicken noodle soup can have as high as 900 mg of sodium, which take up almost half of the 2000 mg recommended daily intake. Sodium causes water retention in the body and is also linked to appetite stimulation that can result in unwanted weight gain. In the long run, high sodium consumption can lead to hypertension.
Foods high in refined flour
Foods such as white bread or pastries. Substituting white refined rice for bread as a carbohydrate source is equally bad as both are considered simple carbohydrates. This causes obesity as it encourages fat storage and causes blood sugar levels to spike. Consider going for whole grain / whole meal options or red and brown rice instead.
Fruits such as mangoes, pineapples and durians. These fruits are high in fructose (sugar) levels and promote weight gain. Other than practising moderation for these foods, those who are diabetic should opt for lower sugar fruits instead, such as, guava, kiwis, avocados, strawberries.
They can be as unhealthy as your regular soft drinks! It takes a few whole fruits to make just one glass of juice, meaning the sugar content is equivalent to that of consuming 3 or 4 or even more whole fruits on a single sitting! Some fruit juice packs you find in supermarkets might have “no added sugar” labels prominently printed. But when you turn over to the nutrition panel, you might see sugar content as high as soft drinks! The reason is because these drinks are made from fruit juice concentrate.
Salad dressings such as mayo, cheese or thousand island. Salads are healthy and can be made even healthier when slices of chicken breast meat or salmon to boost overall nutrition and protein. But the problem arises from the dressings, these dressings can be high in sugar, sodium or fat content as such, do drizzle with care.
Low or zero fat foods
Fat free labels can be as deceiving as “no sugar added labels”. This is especially so for snacks and desserts. Low fat labels does not necessarily mean low in calories, in fact, High sugar or high sodium foods can still be low in fat content but yet be very calorie dense.
Low or zero cholesterol foods
Dietary cholesterol does not necessarily have negative impacts to your health. The one component that causes artery blocking bad or LDL cholesterol to form is trans-fat. Always check the nutrition label - potato chips which are high in sodium, calories and fat may still be labelled as cholesterol-free.
When selecting your food, it's crucial to be mindful of what you're consuming. By selecting whole foods and checking nutritional labels, you can ensure that unhealthy components like sugar and sodium levels are low, and there are no traces of trans-fat. In conclusion, by being vigilant about what you're consuming, you can incorporate healthy foods into your diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
By : Alvin Ho
B (Eng), MBA, Certified Allied Healthcare/Fitness Professional (EIMS), Master Fitness Trainer / Fitness Nutrition, Resistance & Endurance Training Specialist (NFPT)