Everyone is a slave to their tongue to some extent, and there’s nothing wrong with tasty food – unless it’s messing with your health. So what do you do when your stomach growls and you want to visit the refrigerator? Give in to the call of the taste buds and invite health problems, or sacrifice that tasty snack and fixate about it for the rest of the week? How about option 3: Cut out those unhealthy foods and replace them with equally tasty but healthy alternatives. Let’s take a look at five food items you should avoid and their healthier replacements.
#1 Sugar: There’s a lot being said about the scary ways in which sugar affects your body. Historically, sugar was extracted from sugarcane juice and was consumed with no chemical processing. But the sugar we get in supermarkets today is heavily refined and processed. The United States National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association have both weighed in against this kind of sugar. According to them, the refinement process leaches the vitamins and minerals found in raw sugar. What’s worse, refined sugar may contribute to atherosclerosis, diabetes and nutritional deficiencies.
Alternative: Honey! It’s sweet, tasty and healthy. Plus, honey is good for your brain and your heart. Consuming a spoon of honey mixed in slightly warm water jacks up your RBC count as well.
#2 Milk: Two words: Lactose intolerance! A majority of adults in the world just don’t have the enzymes to digest milk. All that improperly digested milk can make you lethargic. Besides, milk pushes up bad cholesterol and may also contribute to blocking your arteries. And the fat content doesn’t help your waistline either!
Alternative: Milk is considered a good source of calcium and protein. But a healthier alternative where you can find these is the horsegram bean. It’s a good source of dietary iron and calcium and is among the richest vegetarian source of protein. Soak it, fry it, or turn it into a soup for a delicious snack that will do your body wonders.
#3 Soda: Bad for your teeth, damages your bones and it’s made from high-fructose corn syrup and sugar. There are more studies coming to light that link soda consumption to kidney damage, certain cancers, stroke-risk and hypertension. Need I say more?
Alternative: Good old water! Or if you like some taste in your liquid refreshments, try seltzers.
#4 Coffee: Yes, that old staple of late-night work hours that helped you meet so many deadlines isn’t good for your body. It takes a toll on the nervous system and in the long run, can affect stamina. There’s also a study that claims coffee reduces your creative output.
Alternative: So how do you handle all the awful deadlines? Try some winter melon. That’s what I used when putting this article together. Winter melon is often added to soups or made into juice in Asian cooking. It helps you stay alert, cools the body and is said to enhance the thinking process.
#5 Refined Grains: In nature, a grain, which is essentially a seed, has three components - endosperm, bran, and germ. The germ is basically the plant embryo, the endosperm is the seed’s food supply, and the bran protects the whole package. Refined grains knock off the bran and germ, leaving us with the endosperm, which is full of starch and low on vitamins, minerals and fiber. The bran and germ however come with a heavy-duty dose of vitamins B, amino acids, phytochemicals, and minerals.
Alternative: Shift to whole grains. Consumption of whole grains has been linked to lower risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. A warning though – don’t confuse multigrain with whole grain. Multigrain cereals may mix refined grains with whole grains. Check your cereal’s list of ingredients before making the purchase.