Salty snacks, rich desserts and comfort food may all look and smell appealing, but consuming these in excess can be detrimental to health. Registered dietitian Kayla Fisher presented at the August Prime of Your Life Women’s Health Series event and discussed how sugar, salt and fat content in certain foods can be linked to inflammation and chronic illness.
Pro-inflammatory vs. anti-inflammatory foods
Foods that can cause inflammation include:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g. soda, juices from concentrate)
- Added sugars and refined carbs
- Processed meats (e.g. hot dogs)
- Solid fats, trans fats and vegetable oils
- Fried foods
Foods that can help prevent inflammation include:
- Legumes, nuts and seeds
- Healthy fats (e.g. avocados)
- Herbs and spices
The sugar situation
Understanding which foods have natural sugar versus those with added sugar are key in preventing inflammation. The average American consumes between 77 to 94 of added sugar every day and that’s too much. Kayla encouraged all to keep these facts about sugar in mind:
- Added sugars are sugars and syrups added to foods when they are processed or prepared
- Natural sugars are sugars naturally occurring in foods such as fruit and milk
- The American Health Association’s daily recommendation is less than 6 teaspoons (or 25 g) of added sugar for women and less than 9 teaspoons (or 38 g) of added sugar for men
- Sugar-sweetened beverages are the number one source of added sugar
Have a sugar craving? Retrain your taste buds by avoiding added sugars for a few weeks. That can lead to reduced sugar cravings and an increased perception of the natural sweetness in foods.
The salty truth
Salt and sodium are not the same thing – this is why sodium is listed on nutrition labels. Salt is a combination of sodium and chloride. Too much sodium can increase fluid retention and blood pressure. The truth about sodium is even saltier:
- The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day
- 70% of sodium intake comes from processed foods
- One teaspoon of salt = 2,300 mg sodium
- The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 2,300 mg sodium daily
The fat facts
The word “fat” is typically perceived in a negative way, but not all fat is bad. Many foods contain healthy fats that are necessary for the body and joints to function properly.
Foods with healthy fats include:
- Plant foods (e.g. olives, nuts, seeds, avocados)
- Marine protein (e.g. fatty fish, salmon)
- Cooking oils made from plant seeds (e.g. olive, sesame, sunflower)
Foods with unhealthy fats include:
- Fatty meats (e.g. bacon, sausage, beef, processed meats)
- Highly processed oils (e.g. soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil)
- Foods with trans fats (e.g. stick margarine, cakes, donuts)
If you were unable to make it to this presentation and want to discover more facts about sugar, salt and fat, listen to the full presentation from the August event.
Our Prime of Your Life Women’s Health Series focuses on the health and unique needs of women. Each event is free to the public and hosted by experts from UF Health Jacksonville. The venue provides a safe space for collaboration where participants can connect with experts and learn from each other. Previous event topics have included pregnancy, pelvic floor disorders and stress management.