In nutritional terms, absence of color often equals absence of nutrients and nutritional value. There are some exceptions, but most of the foods that are white are poor choices for today’s health-minded person. As a matter of fact, one of the ways to assure a healthy diet is to include a wide variety of different colored fruits, vegetables, and grains. The vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables come from ingredients that contain valuable phytonutrients that include antioxidants, vitamins, and other minerals. Antioxidants help protect the body against aging and disease by ridding the body of toxic substances called free radicals. Vitamins and minerals promote health and decrease the risk of disease.

Swap the White for Whole

Many foods without color such as white breads, white rice, sugar, and salt pose problems for long term health. There are several reasons to avoid these foods:

Refined sugar and grains increase your chance of developing diabetes. This is true for foods that contain white sugar (sucrose) and its relatives — fructose, glucose, corn syrup, fruit juices and honey — as well as “processed, enriched or refined grains” — white breads, pasta, white rice and cereals. Theories abound for the reasons behind this but most focus on the fact that these foods produce a rapid rise in blood sugar and then insulin. Over the course of years this leads to insulin resistance, then prediabetes, and finally full-blown diabetes. So check the ingredient labels for the substances mentioned above. These foods contain calories but lack vitamins, minerals, fiber, or other nutrients. This is why these refined carbohydrates (sugars) are often referred to as “empty calories”. Processed foods have little protective or nutritional value. On the other hand, the whole grain will keep you full longer and have nutrients that help protect your heart, lower your cholesterol, and reduce your risk of certain cancers and diabetes. What’s the right amount of whole grain? The American Heart Association recommends that folks on a 2000 calorie a day diet eat 6-8 servings of grains per day and that most, if not all, of these servings come from whole grains. And for sugar goals, aim for less than 25 grams a day of added sugar from processed and packaged foods.

Salt (sodium) increases blood pressure in people who are sensitive to it. It can also increase water retention in people who have problems with that. But, it’s not the salt, it’s the sodium that causes these problems. Sodium is added to many foods, like cheeses, soups, and many types of deli and packaged meats. Check the nutrition panel for sodium in a given food. People with blood pressure problems should limit their sodium intake each day to about 1,500 mg. This is about the amount in a can of reduced sodium chicken noodle soup.

Continue reading June 2022 Newsletter: June is Men’s Health Month