why is american food so unhealthy

Why Is American Food So Unhealthy and What Can I Do About It?

If you’ve ever tasted the grease of a classic cheeseburger or been alarmed by the rise in obesity, you might find yourself questioning, “Why is American food so unhealthy?” According to researchers, the average American diet teems with excess salt, saturated fats, refined grains, and calories from sugars. But there’s a way to escape this nutritional attack, and it’s by improving your grocery list.

Yes, you may have to abandon comfort foods like ice cream and chips. Understanding the reasons behind these widespread unhealthy choices in America may make it easier for you to let go. If you’re prepared to take charge of your dietary habits, continue reading for enlightening insights and practical advice on a healthier lifestyle.

Why Is American Food So Unhealthy?

It’s time to pull the curtain back on a dark reality: unhealthy foods are largely driven by economic benefits for companies, not nutritional benefits for you. The financial gain for these corporations comes from their ingredients of choice. Fillers like sugar and salt are far less expensive to produce and therefore significantly more profitable.

It’s not just about cutting costs. Factories improve the taste appeal of these unhealthy foods, too. This strategy leads you, the unsuspecting consumer, to develop cravings that turn you into a faithful buyer.

The Fast Food Frenzy

Let’s wind the clock back to the early 20th century. This is when the seeds of our current fast food culture were planted.

All too convenient and ridiculously affordable, fast food chains rapidly became a staple for families. Along with their drive-thru services and bargain prices, these chains also serve an unhealthy menu loaded with high-fat, high-sugar, and high-sodium offerings.

The Downside of Industrial Food Production

A shocking amount of American agriculture focuses on producing commodity crops like corn, soy, sugar (both cane and beets), wheat, and potatoes. You might ask, “What’s wrong with that?” Well, these crops often end up in highly processed foods, animal feed, and ethanol.

The result? Our food market is flooded with unhealthy, high-starch products that are more sugary than anything else.

The Shift in the American Diet

Historically, food came from local farms with fewer preservatives and additives. Modern-day produce uses farming chemicals that harm soil quality. As a result, our meals have less vitamins.

Urban living and technology have brought on the rise of convenience foods. Packaged foods often have higher quantities of salt, refined grains, sugar, and harmful oils. More than 70% of the salt Americans consume comes from packaged, processed, store-bought foods.

Taking Back Control

Embrace healthy food options. These choices not only fuel your body but also help you ward off health problems.

Whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, offer many benefits. Apart from providing essential nutrients, they help support a healthy immune system and reduce the risk of inflammation.

So, think twice the next time you reach for that sugary Starbucks drink. Choose to exercise your power and opt for a sip of water.

Understanding the Nutritional Facts Panel

Start with the serving size and servings per container. Those “low fat” or “zero sugar” claims on the front label usually apply to a serving, not the entire package! It’s arguably the industry’s favorite trick to make you believe their product is healthier than it is.

Finding Sugar in Disguise

Food manufacturers are crafty. “Sugar” is easy to spot on a package, making it easier to avoid. So, they use fructose, glucose, dextrose, or maltose as alternatives.

Order Matters

Ingredients are listed by quantity, from highest to lowest. If unhealthy elements like sugar or saturated fat feature near the top, it’s a good idea to avoid that product.

Trans Fat and Saturated Fat

Saturated fats and trans fats are leading contributors to heart disease. Even if the front label declares “0 grams trans fat,” double-check the nutrition facts. A product can contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving and still wear a “0 grams trans fat” badge on the front.

Pay Attention to Portion Sizes

It’s not just about what you eat; it’s also about how much you eat. Portion control is a critical aspect of maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding overconsumption.

While it may be tempting to eat four cups of ice cream, doing so can have serious consequences. Overeating can lead to obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other ailments.

When you eat mindfully and pay attention to the amount you’re consuming, you give your body a chance to signal when it’s full. This helps you avoid ingesting more than you need. A practical way to practice portion control is by using smaller plates or by dividing your plate into sections for different food groups.

Prioritizing Heart Health

Turning your back on harmful fats can save your heart. Saturated fats and trans fats raise your blood cholesterol levels, leading you down the road to heart disease. Replace these with unsaturated fats, like olive oil, canola oil, and avocados.

Make a shift towards whole foods, like fresh vegetables. The more colorful, the better. The natural antioxidants carried by these brightly colored foods can help protect your heart.

A Note to Heart Attack Survivors

If you’ve had one heart attack, you’re at a higher risk of having another. Now’s the perfect time to leverage food as your ally, not your enemy.

Quit smoking, limit alcohol, and invest in stress management techniques. You also need to commit to heart-friendly nutrition. Remove sugar-laden drinks and snacks, salty dishes, and red meat from your diet.

To prevent a second heart attack, engage in regular physical activity; even a brisk walk can make a difference. Take prescribed medications religiously. They’re lifesavers in managing blood pressure, cholesterol, and other risk factors.

Fight Against the Food Industry

The question “Why is American food so unhealthy” has a complex answer. The food industry’s focus on profit, the rise of fast food, unhealthy agricultural practices, and changes in our eating habits have contributed to the unhealthy state of the American diet.

Though it may be a battle, it’s possible to win the war on unhealthy American food. You need a committed shift towards a healthier lifestyle. Find tips on doing this in our health articles.

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