There are good foods and bad foods, but how good and how bad are they? Take a gander at this list and think before you dig in next time…
The Good 😀
A nutritional All-Star — one of the best vegetables you can eat. They’re loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Bake and then mix in some unsweetened applesauce or crushed pineapple for extra moisture and sweetness.
Just one cup of mango supplies 100% of a day’s vitamin C, one-third of a day’s vitamin A, a decent dose of blood-pressure-lowering potassium, and 3 grams of fiber. Bonus: mango is one of the fruits least likely to have pesticide residues.
Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
Non-fat, plain Greek yogurt has a pleasant tartness that’s a perfect foil for the natural sweetness of berries, bananas, or your favorite breakfast cereal. It’s strained, so even the fat-free versions are thick and creamy. And the lost liquid means that the yogurt that’s left has twice the protein of ordinary yogurt – about 17 grams in 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt.
It has lots of vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin K and folic acid. Steam it just enough so that it’s still firm and add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon juice.
The omega-3 fats in fatty fish like salmon can help reduce the risk of sudden-death heart attacks. And wild-caught salmon has less contaminants from coolants and lubricants than farmed salmon.
Whole-grain rye crackers, like Wasa, Kavli, and Ryvita — usually called crispbreads — are loaded with fiber and often fat-free. Drizzle with a little honey and sprinkle with cinnamon to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Chick Peas/Garbanzo Beans
All beans are good beans. They’re rich in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. But garbanzos stand out because they’re so versatile. Just drain, rinse, and toss a handful on your green salad; throw them into vegetable stews, curries, and soups; mix them with brown rice, whole wheat couscous, bulgur, or other whole grains.
Watermelon is a heavyweight in the nutrient department. A standard serving (about 2 cups) has one-third of a day’s vitamins A and C, a nice shot of potassium, and a healthy dose of lycopene for only 80 fat-free, salt-free calories. And when they’re in season, watermelons are often locally grown, which means they may have a smaller carbon footprint than some other fruits.
Steam a sliced squash or buy peeled, diced butternut squash at the supermarket that’s ready to go into the oven, a stir-fry, or a soup. It’s an easy way to get lots of vitamins A and C and fiber.
Don’t miss out on powerhouse greens like kale, collards, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, and Swiss chard. These stand-out leafy greens are jam-packed with vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, lutein, and fiber. Serve with a splash of lemon juice or red wine vinegar.
THE BAD :-O
Cold Stone Creamery’s Oh Fudge! shake
(Note to my UK friends: 20 oz is equal to a British pint).
Chocolate ice cream, milk, and fudge syrup equals 1,250 calories for the “Like It” (16 oz) size. That’s more than a large (32 oz) McDonald’s McCafe Chocolate Triple Thick Shake. The “Love It” (20 oz) has 1,660 calories and the “Gotta Have It” (24 oz) reaches 1,920 calories (just about an entire day’s worth) and 69 grams of saturated fat (3½ days’ worth). That’s the saturated fat content of two 16 oz T-bone steaks plus a buttered baked potato, all blended into a handy 24 oz cup.
Häagen-Dazs ice cream
An average half-cup serving squeezes half-a-day’s saturated fat and a third-of-a-day’s cholesterol into your artery walls and makes a nearly 300-calorie down-payment on your next set of fat cells – if you can stop at a petite half-cup!
Subway’s Chipotle Chicken Burrito
Tortilla, rice, pinto beans, cheese, chicken, sour cream, and salsa. Think of its 970 calories, and 18 grams of saturated fat as three 6-inch Subway BLT Classic Subs! Skipping the cheese or sour cream cuts the saturated fat to 6 grams, but you still end up with 750 calories and more than a day’s worth of sodium. Yikes!
Campbell’s Condensed Soups
On average, a cup has 760 mg of sodium. That’s half a day’s worth … assuming you eat only one of the 2½ servings that the label says the can makes. Look for lower sodium soups or better yet, make your own.
Marie Callender’s (16.5 oz) Chicken Pot Pie
Judging from the label, it has “only” 520 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat, and 800 mg of sodium. But look again. Those numbers are for only half a pie. Eat the entire pie, as most people probably do, and you’re talking 1,040 calories, 22 grams of saturated fat (more than a day’s worth), and 1,600 mg of sodium (an entire day’s worth).
THE UGLY 😦
Olive Garden’s Tour of Italy
Can’t decide what to pick from a restaurant menu? No worries. Now you can order not just one entrée, but two…or three…all at once. Homemade Lasagna, Lightly Breaded Chicken Parmigiana, and Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo – comes with 1,450 calories, 33 grams of saturated fat, and 3,830 milligrams of sodium. Add a breadstick (150 calories and 400 mg of sodium) and a plate of Garden-Fresh Salad with dressing (350 calories and 1,930 mg of sodium) and you’ll consume almost 2,000 calories (an entire day’s worth) and 6,160 mg. So…who want’s to go out for dinner?
Starbucks Venti White Chocolate Mocha(20 oz.)
With 2% milk and whipped cream this is more than a mere cup of coffee. It’s worse than a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Few people have room in their diets for the 580 calories and 15 grams of saturated fat that this hefty beverage supplies. But you can lose 130 calories and almost two-thirds of the bad fat if you order it with nonfat milk and no whipped cream.
Pillsbury Grands! Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll with Icing
No one thinks of cinnamon rolls as healthy but these have 310 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat plus 2½ grams of trans fat (more than a day’s worth) and 5 teaspoons of sugar…in each roll! Companies are dumping their partially hydrogenated oils left and right, yet Pillsbury still makes most of its rolls and biscuits with the stuff.
The Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake
People don’t expect light desserts here but this one kicks things up a notch. If it weren’t served on its side, this one would stand over six inches tall. And upright or not, the slab of cake still weighs in at three-quarters of a pound/12 oz/350g. What do you get for all that heft? Just 1,760 calories and 2½ days’ worth of saturated fat (50 grams), mostly from chocolate, sugar, cream, white flour, and butter. Can you say ‘heart attack’?
I think I gained 5 lbs. just writing all of this!
So what are you eating today?