You know you’re courting nutritional disaster if you order the fettuccine Alfredo or double bacon cheeseburger when you’re eating out. But what about unhealthy foods right in your own refrigerator? If you’re like most of us, your fridge probably holds some basic food products that are adding extra calories, salt, fat, and sugar to your everyday diet — perhaps without you even realizing it.
To make my list of unhealthiest foods, the products had to be commonplace, and they had to be high in trans fats, saturated fat, sugar, or salt. Here are three of my top favorites:
It’s really easy for the calories and fat to add up when you’re slathering on the mayonnaise.
The truth is that regular mayo isn’t too bad if you’re talking about a teaspoon or two. But most mayo users spread it on thicker than that. And if you’re a true mayonnaise lover, you can rack up 360 calories and 40 grams of fat in a 1/4-cup serving.
Mayo maniacs have three better options. They can use a lower-calorie condiment instead of mayonnaise such as mustard, BBQ sauce, salsa, or taco sauce. They can switch to a light mayonnaise with 35 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per tablespoon. Or they can pare down their portion of real mayonnaise to a couple of teaspoons which has 60 calories and 6.7 grams of fat.
Sugary drinks are everywhere. Not only are they standard fare in restaurants and vending machines, but the drinks sold in supermarkets — bottled teas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks — are usually sweetened as well.
Soda, sweet tea, and fruit drinks generally contribute no nutrients but add plenty of calories. And recent research shows that we don’t tend to compensate by eating less when we drink sweet drinks.
Plain water is best for rehydrating the body and should make up most of what we drink each day. But there are several beverages without calories, like green and black teas, that not only hydrate but contribute healthy antioxidants. And although skim or 1% milk has some calories, milk also has key nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, B-12, potassium, and magnesium.
From a nutritional standpoint, there are definitely better beverages you can have in your fridge.
Alcohol calories are empty calories because the body can’t use them as energy. The liver is forced to break alcohol down into fatty acids, which then accumulate in the liver. In fact, fat accumulation can be seen in the liver after a single night of heavy drinking. Liver cells and brain cells actually die with excessive exposure to alcohol.
And then there are the calories. One glass of wine (8 ounces) has around 170 calories, and a bottle of beer (12 ounces) has 150. Each 1.5-ounce shot of liquor (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey) has about 105 calories, not including any soda or mixers you might drink along with it.
If you’re going to drink, do so in moderation. At parties or happy hours, instead of alcoholic drinks, consider drinking mineral or soda water with a wedge of lemon or lime, hot or iced coffee or tea, or diet soft drinks in moderation.