Photo: Syda Productions / Shutterstock
Last week, a study published in the journal BMJ Open showed that whopping 60 percent of calories in the daily Nutrition of an average citizen comes from "ultra-processed" foods that are pretty much what they sound like: processed foods that contain additives – like hardened oils, artificial flavors and emulsifiers – with long names that you do not know.
The researchers also found that these ultra-processed foods account for 90 percent of the food we consume, increasing our risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Yikes. In an interview with HealthDay News senior study author Euridice Martinez Steele emphasized the importance of cleaning our diet. "There is a relatively simple way to avoid too much sugar ̵
Fortunately, making home-made versions of your favorite sweets is easier than you might think. And you do not have to forgo snack-packed snacks, says Health contributing nutritionist Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD You just have to read the labels carefully: "My opinion is when the ingredients list looks like a recipe that You could have done it in your own kitchen, you're on the right track. "(Associated: Well-made, packaged foods approved by dieticians)
Here Sass points out the six worst ultra-processed foods in your pantry and healthier versions that you can buy – or at home – instead.  Chips
The most famous culprits, says Sass, are brands that contain artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. (This means that nothing is neon orange off.) Your best bet is a basic kettle chip with just three simple ingredients: potatoes, olive oil or sunflower oil, and salt. Other great options include organic blue corn chips and popcorn, which is low in calories, high in fiber and packed with antioxidants. Or better yet, go the DIY route. Baked kale chips are as easy to prepare as baked potato chips. Follow the step-by-step instructions in the video below. (See also: How to Make Zucchini Oven Chips)
Packaged Snack Cakes
Cakes wrapped in plastic that seem to keep
months years in your larder are covered in sugar and sugar Preservatives (therefore long-lasting)). It's a better option if you make your own sweet treats, says Sass. You can use a nutrient-rich alternative to white flour such as chickpea or almond flour and also reduce sugar and butter with healthier substitutions. Sass recommends replacing half of the sugar in the recipe with pureed fruits (banana pudding and date paste work well); and swap every tablespoon of butter with half a tablespoon of avocado. (Watch this video for smarter back-swaps.)
Fancy a sweet problem, Stat? "I love taking fresh fruit – berries, pear slices, whatever the season – and heating it in a pan with some lemon water," says Sass. "Then I make homemade crumbs with almond butter, oats and cinnamon and sprinkle it on the fruit." (See also: 34 simple swapes to make each meal healthier.)
You must already know that you avoid ultra-processed white bread in favor of fiber-rich wholegrain breads, which offer many benefits. However, choosing the right loaf can be difficult, as even healthy-looking varieties may contain additives: "Bread is one of the foods where reading the list of ingredients is very important," explains Sass. In general, she recommends looking for a wholegrain or gluten-free or even grain-free bread that does not contain any artificial additives or preservatives. If in doubt, check the Frozen Food section, Sass says. It makes sense: some of the healthiest loaves " must be frozen because they contain no preservatives," she explains.
Yes, you've already heard it. But seriously, it's time to give your diet lemonade once and for all. Apart from the fact that diet soda has no nutritional value, it contains artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose and has been associated with headaches, depression and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. If you can not get used to normal H2O, choose bubbling or flavored water. "Make sure you choose only carbonated water and natural flavors," says Sass. (See also: Homemade Bread Recipes Healthier Than Commercially Available)
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a minimally processed version of pre-made pizza. The best alternative, says Sass, is to make your own dough. She bakes a light, flaky crust of minced cauliflower that delights even die-hard pizza fans, and loads them with vegetables and fresh greens. This video shows how easy it is to make your own cauliflower crust pizza. (Did you know that California Pizza Kitchen was the first nationwide restaurant to offer cauliflower crusts?)
First, the bad news about sweets: Most of the well-known cinema theater brands contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. But the good news is that there are better options. "Seventy percent dark chocolate is a great alternative to sweets," says Sass, noting that it's a good source of magnesium and antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. For a bite, she likes Dagoba Organic Chocolate Chocodrops ($ 8; amazon.com). "Some of my customers keep a bag in the freezer and take a small handful of frozen chips when they are looking for something sweet," she says. And if you prefer gummy bears, Sass recommends a German brand called Seitenbacher Gummi Fruit ($ 20 for a dozen 3 ounce sacks, amazon.com). "Her sweetness comes from real fruit juices like apple and beetroot," she says.
This story originally appeared on Health.com by Kathleen Mulpeter.