Long before the letters RDN hung behind my name, I was well aware that we were a fat fearing nation. Low-fat this and fat-free that, we have all been trained to believe that it is in fact the fat that we consume that makes us fat. With the removal of fat, food producers found a cheap and tasty way to keep consumers locked in on their products: through the addition of sugar. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I want to ensure that you are all well aware of the truth behind this controversial issue.
It’s not the fat my friends; instead, it’s the refined carbohydrates and sugar that are actually so damaging to our health.
Foods like sugary cereals, sweetened beverages, doughnuts, white bread, white rice, white pasta, chips, cookies, crackers, etc. are the real culprit behind the plummeting health of our nation. Current research is actually showing that it is these types of products that increase the fat in our bloodstream and not the dietary fat that we consume that leads to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, sugar is the sure fire answer when asked, “Which is worse, sugar or saturated fat?”
While I am not here to promote saturated fat (I do stand behind coconut oil however), research is suggesting that the sugar is actually far more damaging to our health than a little bit of saturated fat. (I am confident that we will see more research on this topic soon.) Putting all ethical beliefs aside, an afternoon snack of some high quality cheese and a handful of carrots will do far more for your health than that cookie and soda ever could.
Your body needs fat for so many things: your bones, cell membranes, heart, hormones, immune system, liver, lungs and the feeling of satiety all require fat for adequate function.
On the other hand, your body needs sugar for nothing. Not.a.thing.
Nowadays, millions of people are prescribed statins (cholesterol lowering medications) when diagnosed with high cholesterol to help in the prevention of heart disease. Instead of reaching straight for medication, why don’t we reach for real foods, foods that are shown to be three times more effective in reducing mortality than by taking a statin, instead?
My Tip of the Week Tuesday is this: be real with yourself. Yes, those sweets might taste good while we are enjoying them, but we are enjoying them far too often. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a small amount of a high quality dessert every now and then; however, there is no room in our diet for things like soda, candy, sugary granola bars, sugary cereals, highly processed syrups, cheaply made cookies, sports drinks, sherbets, sweetened dried fruits, etc. on a daily basis.
Sugar is making us fat, tired and sick – robbing us of our memories and of the best years of our lives. We’ve got to make some changes my friends and it starts with us.
For a healthy heart, here are the things to keep in mind:
- Most certainly avoid foods that contain Trans fats (processed/packaged foods: margarine, vegetable shortening, anything that reads “Hydrogenated…,” think gas station foods)
- Sweet treats should be enjoyed in strict moderation (cakes, pies, desserts, etc.)
- Omit sweetened beverages like soda, juice, sweetened coffee, sweet tea, sports drinks, sweetened water beverages entirely
- Omit highly processed vegetable oils
- Replace refined carbohydrates (as mentioned above) with healthful fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocados, coconut oil, wild Alaskan salmon, etc.)
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits (vegetables emphasized here!)
- Enjoy a low to moderate amount of organic poultry, fish and grass-fed meat (if you consume animal products)
- Eat a small to moderate amount of whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, whole grain pasta, etc.
“The problem with sugar isn’t just weight gain … A growing body of scientific evidence is showing that fructose can trigger processes that lead to liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases. A little is not a problem, but a lot kills — slowly.” – Dr. Robert Lustig
As you can see, it’s not the dietary fat that is causing the problem for us; it’s the sugar in its many, many forms. What could you do to eliminate some of the added sugar in your diet?
Have a wonderful Tuesday!