In this article, we explore top 3 reasons junk food is bad for you and 12 healthy alternatives to junk foods. But first, isn’t it interesting (read annoying) how almost all the irresistible fast foods are usually not quite healthy? I mean, having a chilled bottle of Coca-Cola with a choice snack when the day is not going as expected can help one feel better. Wouldn’t it?
Grabbing a fast food on the go while running late for work also surely seems to be ideal and timesaving. Agree? And let’s not even begin to say how convenient it is to end a hectic workday with mouthwatering pizza or hot French fries with a bowl of ice cream.
As easy, cheaper and satisfying these foods appear, they are bad news!
One truth which a lot of us still find difficult to come to terms with is the fact that these junk food choices are considered ‘sweet poison’. A known marker for junk food is that it is nutritionally poor and as such, is clearly bad for our health.
But before we go down to why junk food is bad for you, let’s put the subject in the right perspective.
For starters, when we say “junk”, we often refer to things that are useless and not needed – mostly stuff of little or no value.
What really is junk food?
Simply put, junk food comprises all foods that have very little nutritional value and high calories. This implies foods that are mostly rich in salt, added sugar and saturated fat but less in nutrients like fibre, protein, minerals and vitamins.
Fast fact: Most processed foods are junk food and are far from healthy.
The following are top 3 reasons you should ditch junk food for a healthier diet:
1. Junk food increases your risk of heart diseases and obesity:
This appears to be an obvious reason as many people can admit that junk food makes one fat. But here’s a more detailed breakdown.
As earlier stated, junk food is almost always high in calories. Now, while calories are not bad in moderation as they give you the energy to be active and healthy, consuming too many calories causes an accumulation of fat in your body often resulting in weight gain. When you add a lot of weight, you risk being obese. There is a thin line between high calories intake, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
An obese person tends to have more risk of high blood pressure because he/she has more amounts of blood, thereby making the heart to pump harder than normal, and increasing the thickness of the heart muscle. This can lead to heart failure, stroke, hypertension or heart attack.
Know more on How to Take Care of Your Heart
2. Junk food can cause Type 2 Diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the way the body processes glucose (blood sugar) is adversely affected. Nevertheless, because junk food is high in added sugar, it often leads to hyperglycemia (high level of sugar or glucose in the blood). This condition occurs when the body does not produce or use enough insulin which is the hormone that absorbs glucose into the cells for use as energy. In this case, the body becomes insulin resistant.
Moreover, note that Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition which means that the patient manages it till death. Easy way out? Stay away from junk food!
Fast fact: To determine if what you are eating is junk, ask yourself, “What are the dominant nutrients contained in this meal?”
3. Junk food makes you susceptible to cancer:
It is no longer news that what we eat affects our tendency of developing cancer.
According to a research reported by CNN, people who ate the most junk food showed a higher risk of colorectal, respiratory tract (nose, throat, tongue, lips, mouth, vocal cords, and windpipe) and stomach cancers.
Just as stated in reason number 1 above, indiscriminate consumption of junk food leads to obesity which has been proven to cause 13 types of cancer.
Not sure of some regular foods which are considered as junk food? Remember that we are dealing with top 3 reasons junk food is bad for you: 12 healthy alternatives to junk food.
Therefore, having outlined the reasons junk food is bad news, below are top 12 common junk foods to either avoid or take minimally for your health’s sake. We have also recommended healthy alternatives that you can easily switch to, to make better and healthier food choices.
INSTEAD OF THESE FOODS – TRY THESE
1. Soft drinks – Homemade smoothies
2. Cakes and cookies – Fresh fruits
3. Pizza – Salad
4. White bread – Whole grain bread
5. Meat pie, doughnut – Sweet potato pie
6. French fries – Baked Veggies fries
7. Ice cream – Frozen unsweetened yogurt
8. Popcorn – Cashews/almonds/walnuts mix
10. Chicken nuggets – Baked chicken wings
11. Hot dogs – Seafood dog/fruit salad
12. Hamburgers – Chicken salad
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