Not all foods are created equal when it comes to nutrient density. Processed and refined foods often contain empty calories and harmful fats that lead to weight gain. On the other hand, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and “good” fats, such as olive oil, can help people stay trim and healthy. Knowing which fat-triggering foods to avoid is essential for improving overall health.
Sugars are linked to more than 60 ailments and are a top offender. Watch ingredient labels for high-fructose corn syrup, white sugar, honey, molasses, sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose and corn syrup. Monitor your intake at the dinner table and in beverages as well. Women should take in no more than 100 calories of added sugars daily. That’s 25 grams. Men should limit intake to 150 daily calories, which is 37.5 grams.
Trans fats block the body’s ability to utilize good, essential fatty acids for their fat-burning benefits. These hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are found in processed vegetable oils and shortenings, margarine and baked goods. They raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower your “good” HDL cholesterol.
Saturated fat comes from animal sources including beef fats, pork, lamb, organ meats and full-fat dairy products. Vegetable sources are cocoa butter, palm oil, coconut oil and palm-kernel oil.
Refined carbohydrates convert into sugars quickly in the body, leading to unwanted fat. Just like excessive sugar, these carbs can raise triglyceride levels and decrease levels of HDL, or good, cholesterol. Culprits include breads, crackers or cereals that have the words "bleached" or "enriched" in the first few ingredients; white rice; and white pasta. Also be wary of “fat-free” foods, which often are high in carbs and sugar.
People often drink unwanted calories without a second thought. Alcohol, even in small amounts, can trigger large changes in your plasma triglyceride levels, leading to undesired fat. Many juices and juice drinks have added sugars, and even 100 percent juice can lead to weight gain if overused. Sports drinks and sodas often have high sugar contents.