America’s Consumption of
Added Fats and Sugars Continues:
How to Avoid it
In the 35 years between 1970 and 2005, Americans began eating 63 percent more added fats and 19 percent more sugar and sweeteners. Also during this time, Americans got fatter.
It’s official: Americans are STILL eating too many fats and sugars.
Between 1976 and 1980, 47 percent of the U.S. population was either overweight or obese, but between 2003 and 2004, this percentage increased to nearly 67 percent.
Now, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — the Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in the US Food Consumption — it’s been confirmed: Americans’ diets are still poor. Specifically, the report found that Americans are failing to even meet the dietary recommendations put out by the federal government.
Among the problems that the report highlighted were:
- Average intake of added sugars and sweeteners is over the recommended levels
- Consumption of refined grains is too high
- Americans are not eating enough whole grains
- Added fats and oils from processed foods and cooking are making up too much of most people’s diets
Fats and Sugars to Avoid: What to Look for on Labels
Most of the fats and sugars that you need to watch out for are coming in the form of processde foods. Ideally, it’s best to cut down on all foods that come in a box, bag or carton, and instead choose whole, fresh foods. But, if you are going to buy processed foods, here is a list of fats and sugars to watch out for:
- Partially hydrogenated oils: These contain trans fats, which have been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more.
- White flour, white sugar: These are refined carbs, which lack nutrients and will quickly be converted into sugar in your body, leading to increases in your blood sugar levels that, over time, can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
- High-fructose corn syrup: Some studies have linked HFCS, which is used to sweeten soft drinks and countless processed foods, to obesity, increased triglycerides, accelerated bone loss and more.
- Vegetable oils: Included in this category are soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, and others. Although these polyunsaturated fats are typically described as heart healthy — they may help to reduce cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease — they are often highly processed and are quite perishable.
How healthy are YOUR eating habits? There is no better time than now to start making healthier choices for you and your family.
This means that the fats easily become rancid, and rancid oil may contribute to oxidative stress and damaging free radicals in your body. Further, when polyunsaturated fats are eaten in excess, as they are in the typical American diet, they can lead to the formation of excess prostanoids, which are chemicals that increase inflammation in your body.
- Saturated fats: According to the American Heart Association, saturated fats are the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol, which is why the federal report found that Americans should lower their intake of saturated fats.
However, this is a hotly debated topic, as some experts believe that saturated fats are actually good for you. Saturated fats are necessary for energy, hormone production, and cellular membranes, among other biological functions, and according to Mary Enig, PhD, the diet should contain at least 25 percent of fat as saturated fat.
Want to Improve YOUR Diet?
Along with reading the labels on the food you buy to avoid the dietary culprits listed above, here are more simple tips to get you started:
- Cut out excess “empty” calories like those from soda, candy, cookies, sweetened drinks and chips first.
- Eat more vegetables, fruits and other whole, fresh foods.
- Eat less processed foods and oils, sugar and caffeine.
- Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice.
- Bake, grill, steam or broil food instead of frying it (fewer calories and better for health and energy).
- Drink water as your primary beverage.
- When choosing grains, pick items that have whole grains listed as the first ingredient on the label.
- Get healthy fats by eating foods such as low-mercury fish, nuts, avocados, olives and olive oil.
- Sit down to a regular, family mealtime everyday (or as often as possible), including foods you’ve cooked at home.
- Limit take-out food, fast food and pre-packaged convenience foods.