Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stop... In the Naaaaame of Love! (Or Big Brother)

The Washington Post writes: One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, which in turn is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. And while being overweight and inactive raises blood pressure, too much salt is a big culprit as well. The American Medical Association has said 150,000 lives a year could be saved by cutting in half sodium levels in processed and restaurant food.

And a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that added sugars may be playing a role in cholesterol problems.

Hmmm... ok, so maybe salt isn't good... but is salt-free dead food really all that much better? And added sugars aren’t wonderful either. But again – are sugar-free cookies really “healthy”? Let’s not get so focused on losing weight that we forget about health! Your weight is not the problem – it’s the symptom. It's the secondary result of imporoper nutrition, improper activity, and many o ther factors that may be more difficult to control. How about cutting down on processed foods, regardless of salts and sugars?

But on a different angle…

I heard on the radio this morning that the government is being urged to require food manufactures to cut down on the salt in their processed foods.

In theory, that’s a good idea. But in practice, where does that leave your personal freedom of choice? If companies want to volunteer to cut down on dangerous additives, I am all for that! But I also think people need to take responsibility for their own health. If you don’t care about your health, and want to go to town on that jumbotron-sized bag of potato chips, that’s your decision.

And yes, continued efforts need to be made to help people learn where hidden sources of these additives are – so here’s a little run-down for ya!

The American Heart Association shares this list of major food sources of sodium:
-Tomato Sauce
-Canned foods (beans, veggies, sauces, etc)
-Prepared mixes (Hamburger helper, flavored rices, etc.)

Pretty much any pre-packaged food is going to have added salt to help preserve it. This includes many microwave dinners. Drinks are another source: pop and sports drinks are riddled with sodium! (Pop makes ya thirsty so ya want more! And sports drinks are for athletes who are sweating buckets due to more than 60 minutes of exercise!)

And sugar? Whoo-buddy! Where to start?

A Rose By Any Other Name Is Just As Sweet…

And sugar is no exception! It’s time to be a sleuth, my friends! Food manufacturers like to try to disguise the sugar! But we’re too smart for that sneakiness! ;-)

Sugar is known by so many names. Ready for this crazy list?

Corn syrup/High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Cane Juice
Dextrin or dextrose
Fruit Juice Concentrate
Malt Syrup
Rice Syrup
Sugar/Invert Sugar


Read any food ingredient list, chances are it will contain at least one of those items.

Common culprits often thought of as “healthy”: fruit juice, flavored yogurt, flavored coffees and teas, pop, and even some sweetened cereals! Am I saying avoid all those things? Not if you don’t want to (doesn’t it just ROCK that you have that choice still?!) but at least be aware. Check out those sugars! Am I saying all sugar is bad? Not at all! Natural sugars definitely have their place and purpose – but stick with the natural as much as you can: fruits! Ok, ok, and moderately use other natural sources like dates, honey, and agave. (Lets face it – we love sweet things!)

So make your own personal choice to cut down on that processed stuff! Don’t wait for the government to force you – do it for yourself, your health, your wellbeing.

Go fresh, baby! :)

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