Improve Your Health by Avoiding “White” Foods
Good nutrition can provide many health benefits that can keep you well both physical and mentally. Most notably, a nutritious diet can significantly lower your risk of developing heart disease by keeping your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and insulin at healthy levels. It can also help prevent obesity.
One seemingly innocuous food category that is best minimized in – or eliminated completely from – your diet is highly refined and processed “white” foods. Some examples include flour, rice, pasta, bread, crackers, cereal, simple sugars like table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and other processed carbohydrates. Naturally white, unprocessed foods like eggs, onions, cauliflower, turnips, beans, and potatoes are not included in this group.
In essence, here’s what makes “white” foods so unhealthy:
- The milling process removes many of the most healthful components of whole grains, such as minerals, dietary fiber, phytochemicals, and fatty acids.
- Extensive processing destroys a food’s natural structure. Consequently, consuming a food made of finely milled oats (like low-fiber breakfast cereal) or grains (like white bread) can produce a much higher spike and subsequent crash in blood sugar than eating their similar but less-processed counterparts, such as steel-cut oats and stone-ground bread.
- High levels of processing usually incorporate a variety of unhealthy ingredients, such as sugars, trans fats, and sodium.
- Experts believe that the body metabolizes fructose differently than other sugars in a way that can stimulate the liver to produce new fat. Fructose represents about half of the sugar in sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose.
- Refined carbohydrates are less satisfying, and therefore easier to overeat, than “good” carbohydrates.
To avoid the health trap of “white” foods, substitute whole-grain alternatives for white bread, pasta, and rice. When reviewing product labels, look for descriptions like whole grain, stone ground, whole wheat, and brown rice. On the other hand, words like multigrain, durum wheat, enriched flour, and semolina can indicate that some vital nutrients are missing. Steer clear of products with ingredients that include sugar, cane, or any word ending in “-ose.”
Some studies have linked whole-grain intake (in place of refined carbohydrates) to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and possibly stroke, as well as less weight gain over time. That’s because whole grains can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, and reduce hunger.
If you have questions about nutrition or other health-related topics, please feel free to contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. No appointments are ever necessary to see a doctor at our walk-in clinic.