Archive for the tag - unhealthy

Is Saturated Fat Good For You?

ButterFor decades, we’ve been told that unsaturated fats are healthy – and that unsaturated fats should be minimized. In the 1960s, studies showed that unsaturated fats raised LDL cholesterol levels. LDL is the bad type of cholesterol that clogs your arteries. Because saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol, the assumption was that this type of fat must increased the risk of heart disease.

However, research is showing that this assumption might not be true. The link between heart disease and cholesterol is, according to researchers, much more complicated.

Over the past 40 or 50 years, researchers have tracked saturated fat intake and followed individuals to examine their risk of heart attack or stroke. After all these years, researchers haven’t been able to prove a clear correlation between the two.

The latest theory holds that an individual’s ratio of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) to bad cholesterol is a clearer indicator. In terms of heart disease risk, saturated fats may actually be neutral.

Of course, this isn’t a free pass to load up on bacon and ice cream. Indeed, many products high in unsaturated fat are calorie dense and often lack other important nutrients. But this latest finding does illuminate a broader, more complicated approach to nutrition that doesn’t focus on just one nutrient.

When dieters focused on low fat foods in the 1980s and 1990s, for example, we got even larger than ever. A reductionist approach to nutrition just doesn’t seem to work.

Instead of focusing just on fat or just on calories or just on carbohydrates or so on, a wiser approaching is to eat a balanced and colorful diet that focuses on whole foods like vegetables, nuts, fruits and some lean meats like fish or chicken.



The Worst Fast Food Salad…

One of the big advantages to cooking at home is that you know exactly what goes into your food. There’s no guesswork or clever marketing involved. And the same is true for our salads.

Though grabbing a salad sounds healthy, the reality is that many fast food salads are actually less healthy than the obviously unhealthy alternatives – like a Big Mac. With 550 calories and 30 grams of fat, there’s no question that the Big Mac is a gut-busting and unhealthy choice. But even the Big Mac doesn’t have anything on these salads.

Drum roll please… Some of the worst fast food salads include:

Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad

While the name sounds both innocent and slightly offensive (didn’t we stop using the term “Oriental” a long time ago?), this massive calorie bomb of a salad is no laughing matter. With 1,390 calories and 98 grams of total fat, you are not doing your body any favors with this meal choice. This salad contains 15 grams of unhealthy saturated fat. For most people, that’s an entire day’s worth.

Crispy_Chicken_SaladBut wait, things get worse…

IHOP’s Crispy Chicken Salad

As soon as you see the word “crispy,” run the other way! It’s code for fried. With a mind-blowing 1,400 calories, 88 grams of total fat and 26 grams of saturated fat, this is a terrible salad choice.  Bizarrely, with 28 grams of sugar, it has almost as much sugar as a can of coke. Yikes.

And then for the worst salad of them all…

Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad

With 1430 calories, 96 grams of total fat and 28 grams of saturated fat, this salad is truly an explosion of everything your body doesn’t need. It’s about the equivalent of two and half Big Macs. Don’t do it. Just don’t.

The bottom line: Salad isn’t synonymous with healthy. Play it safe and smart by preparing your salad at home. If you must grab a salad on the go, make sure you Google the nutrition information – even if the salad sounds like a healthy choice. Opt for grilled over fried, ask for no cheese and no bacon and select a dressing that isn’t creamy.

7 Surprisingly Unhealthy Foods!

14251284-trail-mixThere are tons of healthy and delicious foods. And then there tons of delicious foods that sound healthy – but aren’t.

Here are seven of those surprisingly unhealthy foods:

  1. Apple juice. It has the word apple in it – so it must be healthy… right? Wrong. In fact, fruit juice is only slightly healthier than soda and extremely calorie dense. A half cup of apple juice, for example, has as many calories as an entire apple – but it’s totally devoid of the fiber that makes the apple healthy and filling.
  2. Multigrain bread. Multigrain bread simply means that it’s made with multiple types of grains – some or all of which may be refined. What you want to look for is bread made from whole grains. If the word “whole” isn’t listed before the grains, don’t buy it.
  3. Vegetable chips. You’ve probably seen veggie chips in the supermarket. Though they sound healthy, they’re really just the same as potato chips. If you want something healthy with a snap, opt for carrot sticks.
  4. Trail mix. Most trail mixes are made with salted nuts, dried fruit and candies. Unsalted nuts are totally healthy. Salted nuts, on the other hand, are not so great. And dried fruits should be eaten sparingly; they tend to be very calorie dense. Because dried fruits are so small, we eat a lot of them – but they have just as many calories as their fresh counterparts. Moreover, sugar is often added to dried fruit. The chocolates and candies added to trail mix make things go from bad to worse.
  5. Energy bars. Unless you’re on a hike or engaged in a high endurance activity, most energy bars aren’t a smart choice. Just take a look at the ingredients; the first ingredient is almost always some form of sugar (or sugar disguised as “brown rice syrup” or “agave”).
  6. Smoothies. Just because a drink is called a smoothie doesn’t mean it’s healthy. On a recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, I drank a so-called “smoothie” made with whole milk and ice cream. For a healthy smoothie, only order real fruit smoothies made with a base of unsweetened almond milk. It will minimize sugar and calories and maximize the good stuff.
  7. Muffins. Yup, even bran muffins. Most muffins are made with tons of sugar and butter, though there are healthier options available if you’re willing to look. The other problem with muffins is that many of them are HUGE – and can pack upwards of 800 calories.

The bottom line is that it’s important to look before you eat. Read the nutrition information. Scan the ingredients. It’s really the only way to get the full story on the foods you eat.

Were you surprised by any of the foods listed above? Let me know in the comments below. And if you know of any other surprisingly unhealthy foods, share them with us!


Look What’s Inside a Twinkie!

On this blog, Twinkies get a bad rap. But, as far as I’m concerned, they’ve earned every bit of criticism they get.

In fact, one of my favorite nutrition quotes is as follows:

Did you ever stop to taste a carrot? Not just eat it, but taste it? You can’t taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie.

For those of you luck enough to be unfamiliar with Twinkies, they’re a popular American snack cake made by Hostess Brands. The box describes the processed food as a “golden snack cake with a creamy filling.”

So why is there so little love for this popular snack food? Take a look at what’s inside:

The ingredients are far from mouth-watering. And it seems like consumers are catching on. In January of 2012, Hostess filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to Hostess, customers are opting for healthier foods.

If Twinkies become a casualty of our healthier diets, I – for one – won’t be shedding any tears. Will you?

4 Worst Holiday Foods EVER! [Video]

While it’s no secret that many holiday foods deserve to be on the “naughty” list, these four deserve special recognition for their belly-bursting calorie and fat content.

Spoiler alert: If you like eggnog, you may not want to watch this video!

Check out the video via my Davey Wavey Fitness YouTube channel. And, if you’re not already subscribed to my fitness channel, click here to make it happen!

5 Unhealthiest Foods of the Holidays!

The shocking-but-true nutrition information for a cup of egg nog. ::gulp::

The holidays are about jingling bells, not bellies… but almost all of us gain a few holiday pounds. Eat good food and be merry, but do your best to replace these five worst of the worst foods to minimize the gain:

  1. Egg Nog. Drink two cups of egg nog and you’ve already exceeded your daily recommend saturated fat intake. Yup, it’s that bad for you. Made with eggs, sugar, milk, heavy cream and brown sugar… the result is an artery-clogging concoction with about 350 calories in a single cup. It’s basically liquid heart disease. Cheers!
  2. Pigs in a blanket. Pigs in a blanket are those addicting mini hot dogs wrapped in dough. They make the list not just because they are terrible from a nutrition standpoint, but because it’s nearly impossible to eat just one or two. Each piggy is a bomb of calories, sodium, nitrates and saturated fat; one serving has about 1/3 of your daily recommend value of sodium and saturated fat. But who has just one serving?
  3. Peanut brittle. Sure, peanuts are good for you. Until you cover them in sugar and butter. Get ready to gag: A single cup of peanut brittle has almost 700 calories! Add to that: 43% of your daily value of fat, 37% of your daily value of saturated fat and more carbohydrates than a bagel – it’s no wonder that this delicious treat makes my unhealthiest holiday foods list.
  4. Prime rib. A true holiday favorite, prime rib is rich in protein. But it’s also cut from the fattest part of the cow. A single slice has 750 calories and… 45 grams of fat! And now, a message from your heart: Opt for turkey or a beef tenderloin instead.
  5. Pecan pie. Eat a slice of pecan pie, and you’ve already consumed a quarter of your day’s calories; each slice has anywhere from 500 – 600 calories, 40% of your daily value of fat and 25% of your daily value of saturated fat. And that’s without the whipped cream topping!

Enjoy your holidays – and ensure that you’ll be around for many more by replacing these foods with healthier options like unsalted mixed nuts, shrimp cocktail, fresh steamed veggies, leaner meats and healthier (but still delicious!) dessert options.

And check out my 6 absolute worst foods of all time here!