Convenience food is tempting. Think about it, after a hard-day’s work, the gym, chasing after kids, the rush-hour commute, or whatever else consumes your time. It’s tempting to succumb to the quick-and-easy allure of convenience foods. Instead, consider this quote from Dr. Fuhrman:
Food manufacturers remove the most valuable part of the food and then add bleach, preservatives, salt, sugar, and food coloring to make breads, breakfast cereals, and other convenience foods. Yet many Americans consider such food healthy merely because it is low in fat.
And the Standard American Diet is chock full of convenience foods; canned pasta, fast food, dried macaroni and cheese, and—relevant to this post—boxed rice dishes. Karen Collins, R.D. of MSNBC
agrees they’re convenient, but at a cost
. Here’s an excerpt:
Boxed rice may be convenient, but these products offer little more than refined grains and lots of excess sodium. Eating a one-cup portion of rice prepared according to package directions (including the prepackaged seasonings and added margarine) can provide up to 1350 milligrams of sodium. Compare that to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ recommended limit of 2300 mg per day and you’re well on your way to sodium overload.
Sodium recommendations are designed to prevent or control high blood pressure and reduce risk of stomach cancer. While the guidelines are set for the general public, people who are more sensitive to the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium — namely black men and women, older adults and those already diagnosed with hypertension — are encouraged to limit sodium even further, to 1500 mg per day or less.
I used to eat a lot of this junk—packets of flavored rice and pilaf mixes—but no more! Why? Well, first let’s consider all that sodium Karen Collins brings up. Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of salt. This quote should give you his lowdown on sodium. Take a look:
High salt intake, and resultant high blood pressure later in life, does not merely increase the risk and incidence of stroke. It also can lead to kidney failure, congestive heart failure, and heart attack. Salt consumption is linked to both stomach cancer and hypertension.1 For optimal health, I recommend that no salt at all be added to any food.
And those refined grains are no better! Even if manufacturers claim they are “enriched.” Dr. Fuhrman explains all this much better than I can—time for another quote! Check it out:
White pasta, white rice and white bread are just like sugar; because their fiber has been removed, these nutrient deficient foods are absorbed too rapidly. This, in turn, will raise glucose, triglyceride, and insulin levels in your blood. Refined grains are undesirable and will sabotage your weight-loss and cholesterol-lowering efforts.
Makes me wonder how in the HECK I used to eat that stuff. My typical dinner used to be a rice-packet with a can of tuna fish thrown into the pot. I know—CRAZY! It’s hard to believe I would eat something like that, especially now that I’ve…to be continued.
1. Joosens, J.V., M.J. Hill, P. Elliot, et al. 1996. Dietary salt, nitrate and stomach cancer mortality in 24 countries: European Cancer Prevention (ECP) and the INTERSALT Cooperative Research Group. Int. J. Epidemiol. 3:494-504.