As you age and the kids move out, experts say that less time is spent overall preparing and cooking foods. Mature adults tend to reach for more convenience when it comes to their dietary needs that require less planning, less use of ovens, grills, or stovetops, greater use of appliances such as microwaves and toasters. Convenience foods are oftentimes unhealthy. They typically contain high amounts of salt, sugar, and fats and overindulging in products that contain these ingredients can certainly lead to health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
If you’re stubborn and still insist that going the easier route food-wise is best for you, then take our advice and avoid these convenience foods like the plague:
- Microwave Popcorn: We know you love it and some practically make it an everyday staple but take heed, it is just not good for you. The popcorn bag is lined with a chemical called PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid. When heated, this chemical has been said to increase the risk of cancer, in particular, lung, liver, and prostate cancer. The popcorn also contains oil and emulsifiers that have huge amounts of trans-fats that contribute to cardiovascular ills.
- Tomato Sauce: Commercially produced tomato sauce is refined sugar central. Some brands of tomato sauce list corn syrup as the second ingredient. You probably have more than enough sugar in your diet and don’t need extra. You certainly don’t need any extra doses of the sweet stuff in your tomato sauce. In addition to the sugar, there are tomato sauces that contain sodium, another extra that you can do without.
- Packaged Sandwiches: A nutrition nightmare for sure! Many of these grabbables contain more than their fair share of fat, sodium, and empty calories. Not to mention the type of meats used to make these sandwiches like bologna and salami are typically the leftover parts of the animals such as the heart, intestines, and stomach.
- Coleslaw: Folks think this stuff is healthy just because it contains cabbage and carrots but don’t be fooled. It is nothing but calories, sugar and lots of fat. The fat comes from mayo. If you buy coleslaw from fast food eateries like KFC, their slaw is loaded with as much as 22 grams of fat in a serving.
- Packaged Cookies: We know you love getting your sweet on but packaged cookies are not the way to go. If you scan the package label of many of your fave cookies, you’ll find that they are made with partially hydrogenated cooking oil which should make you put them back pronto. They also may contain white flour, heaps of sugar, artificial flavors, colors and loads of preservatives. If you must nosh on cookies at least look for those that use ‘high oleic’ oils that keep the product fresher sans the heart-unhealthy trans-fats.
- Frozen Pizza: Yikes! Not only do many of these cheesy favorites contain bad carcinogens (cancer-causers) like MSG and nitrates but have way too much salt, sugar, fats, and calories.
- Soda: Now you’ve been warned about this beverage time and time again but many of you still won’t stop the madness. Sodas are just dangerously unhealthy. Black people consume more sodas than any other ethnic group. Soda is just sugar and too much of this can lead to an insulin reaction in your body that may, in the long run, lead to diabetes and weight gain. Another main ingredient in soda is phosphoric acid that keeps the body from absorbing calcium. Without calcium, your body cannot build bone and this can lead to osteoporosis, especially in women. The water used to make soda can also contain chlorine and other contaminants.
- Salty Snacks: In addition to the high salt content, many salty snacks like chips are fried in partially hydrogenated oils. These kinds of trans-fats should be avoided at all costs as they raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. Even if you do not see hydrogenated oils listed on the label of your brand of chips, they might still contain saturated fats that not only raise cholesterol levels but increase heart attack and Type 2 diabetes risk as well.
- Fast Foods: These convenient morsels are just ladened with added GMO (genetically modified) corn, trans- fats, commercialized beef, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, sugars, MSG, excessive salt, preservatives, and they’re all used to make food taste yummy. Bottom line, these ingredients are just bad, bad, BAD!
- Packaged Salad Bags: Many salad packages contain ‘pre-washed’ greens, sometimes even ‘triple washed,’ they can still contain harmful disease-causing bacteria, like Listeria, salmonella or E. coli, which can’t always be rinsed off. Bagged greens typically contain younger leaves, which have a higher risk of contamination. Plus, many prepackaged greens contain more than one type — so spinach carrying bacteria could not only contaminate bags of spinach, but it could also contaminate bags of mixed greens and any other packages containing the same spinach. Some research suggests that the inside of the bags can even foster the growth of bacteria. And don’t think for one minute that organic greens are exempt — they are no more or less likely to carry harmful bacteria. So when it comes to bagged greens, the health risks are still low, but if you have the option of choosing prepackaged or fresh, go for the latter which is a safer bet. BTW, you should still wash off produce as thoroughly as possible.