By: May “Mosaic” Advincula, Staff Writer

Healthy Food
Photo credit by: MeiTeng

“Junk food” is generally characterized by types of foods with no nutritional value that often contain high levels of calories from sugar or fat. Common junk foods include salted snacks, gum, candy, sweet dessert, fried foods and carbonated beverages.

According to Unjunk your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Convention Snacks, the worst ingredient list is divided into groups called the “scary seven.” The next time you have a snack attack, consider reading the labels of your foods and look out for the following:

  • HFCS: High-Fructose Corn Syrup (also referred to as glucose-fructose)
  • Trans fats: ‘Partially hydrogenated’ or ‘hydrogenated’ (includes vegetable shortening)
  • MSG: Monosodium Glutamate
  • Artificial flavors
  • Artificial colors (dyes)
  • Artificial sweeteners: Chemical sweeteners including aspartame, Splenda (sucralose), Ace-K (Acesulfame Potassium), saccharine, etc.
  • Preservatives: Polysorbate 60, 65 & 80, TBHQ, sodium benzoate, BHA, BHT, sulfur dioxide (sulfites)

Check out these alternative tips to popular junk food snacks:

Flavored water versus soda

The next time you get thirsty and need something sweet to quench your thirst, consider adding fresh fruit (strawberries, lemons, etc.) or veggies (cucumbers) to a pitcher of water to jazz up the flavor. It will be more refreshing than soda, which has a tendency to dehydrate you and is full of sugar.

Baked sweet potato fries versus french fries

An order of McDonald’s large french fries is estimated to have at least 500 calories. Instead of a snack high in fat and salt content, opt to make your own for classic oven-baked sweet potato fries.

Try this recipe for a lower-calorie alternative: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/potatoesandsweetpotatoes/r/sweetfries.htm

Frozen yogurt versus ice cream

Though sweet and filling, ice cream is also full of fat. The next time you want a cold treat, try frozen yogurt instead. Not only is it tasty, but frozen yogurt also contains healthy live cultures that aid in your digestion. Frozen yogurt has also been linked to bone and joint health as well as a healthy immune system. Not to mention, people who are lactose-intolerant generally don’t have problems with it.

Baked potato chips versus regular potato chips

 

Instead of the regular bag of potato chips, try the baked versions instead for light snacking. They tend to be crispier and less greasy that their regular counterparts.

 

Dark chocolate versus milk chocolate

Though chocolate has known health benefits, this only applies to dark chocolate versus the manufactured candy bars that are diluted or modified to include other ingredients that easily turn them into a high-calorie guilty pleasure. Next time your sweet tooth comes calling, try a piece of dark chocolate to appease your cravings.

Hummus versus ranch dip

The next time you put out a veggie tray at your next get-together, consider using hummus instead of ranch dip. Not only is it tasty, it is also full of protein compared to other low-nutrient spreads. Also, you can pair it with crispy bagel chips to include for lunch or for something on-the-go.

Whether you need something to nosh on during your next road trip, or something to get you through your 2:30 feeling at work, opt for healthier snack alternatives to avoid the extra pounds the next time you get the munchies.