by Jennifer Magid
See what’s really in your favorite fun foods.
You know you shouldn’teat junk food, but a bit every now and then is OK … right? Yes and no. “The problem with junk food in our current food culture is that it seems to slip into every meal: We have a Pop-Tart for breakfast, a Snapple at lunch, a soda after school, fast food for dinner, followed by an ice-cream sandwich,” says Jill Jayne, a registered dietitian in New York City who creates nutrition education programs for teens. “You can eat junk food. It just shouldn’t be its own food group.”
Junk Puts Your Body in a Funk
Determining which foods are junk and which aren’t can be confusing. Is fast food junk? What about high-calorie or convenience-store foods? Think of it this way: If the food has very few vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that you need to be healthy, it’s probably junk. Food that qualifies as junk will have a lot of sugar, fat, or salt.
Junk food can lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. But you may not realize how much it can immediately make you feel like, well, junk. The fat in those foods can build up on your blood vessel walls, Jayne explains, which “makes it harder for your blood vessels to circulate blood around your body.” That can affect how well you are able to perform during sports and other exercise-right away.
Jordyn L., a 16-year-old from Phoenix, has experienced the lousy post-junk food feeling firsthand. “When I would eat fast food or processed things, I would definitely feel the difference in my body the next day,” she says. After doing an internship at a health food company, Jordyn became a teen health ambassador at her school. She now encourages other students to cut out the junk so they can feel better too. “They can’t believe that … the one who used to be obsessed with cake batter ice cream [is] now talking about organic this and healthy that!” Jordyn says about herself.
Here’s a closer look at some popular junk foods, with some tasty and healthy options.
These days, a visit to a restaurant, a movie theater, or a fast-food eatery can be a rude awakening. Depending on where you live in the country, you may see how many calories are in the foods for sale. In New York City, where many chain restaurants and eateries are required to display a food’s caloric information, 86 percent of restaurant diners were surprised by the calorie counts and 82 percent said the numbers affected what they ordered, according to a survey by food industry consulting firm Technomic Inc.
French Fries (medium)
One box of fries fills about 50 percent of your daily allowance of fat. The cooking process also produces the chemical acrylamide, which in high doses has been linked to cancer and nerve damage.
Healthier choice: A fast-food restaurant’s salad, which has less fat and more vitamins and other nutrients
Healthiest choice: A baked potato. One potato has about 1 percent of your daily allowance of fat.
Try it with grated Parmesan cheese and basil.
Cola (8 fluid ounces)
One of soft drinks’ main ingredients is high-fructose corn syrup, which has no nutritional value and, in some studies, has been linked to obesity.
Healthier choice: unsweetened iced tea
Healthiest (and caffeine-free) choice: Mix seltzer water (¾ of a glass) with 100 percent juice (¼ of the glass), and add a lemon wedge.
Candy Bar (2 ounces)
Many candy bars include corn syrup, along with roughly 14 grams of fat, about 21 percent of your daily allowance of fat.
Healthier choice: A chocolate mint, which has only a fraction of a candy bar’s fat, or 1 ounce of dark chocolate, which contains protective chemicals called flavonoids
Healthiest choice: Peanut butter on graham crackers, with milk. A tablespoon of peanut butter has about 8 grams of fat, but this combo is lower in sugar than the options at left.
Nachos (large size at movie theater)
The number of calories (about 1,101) and amount of fat (54 grams) is more than half the amount your body needs for an entire day!
Healthier choice: Make your own nachos at home with baked tortilla chips (they have about 110 calories per serving) and melted low-fat cheese.
Healthiest choice: Whole-wheat crackers (pick a high-fiber brand) with low-fat cheese
Cheese Curls (1 ounce) his snack has a lot of fat (about one-third of your daily allowance in one serving) and sodium (590 milligrams, or 25 percent of what your body needs daily).
Healthier choice: One serving of unsalted plain pretzels has about 75 milligrams of sodium, or 3 percent of the recommended daily value.
Healthiest choice: 3 cups unbuttered, unsalted, air-popped popcorn, which has 3 milligrams of sodium and 3.6 grams of good-for-you fiber
calorie cal ·o ·rie
- a unit for measuring the amount of energy that a food makes in the body. The more calories something has, the more energy it gives.
Lettuce is low in calories, and doughnuts are high in calories.
- a unit of heat equal to the amount necessary to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree Celsius; gram calorie; small calorie. (abbr.: cal.)
- (sometimes cap.) a unit of heat equal to the amount necessary to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one degree Celsius; large calorie; great calorie; kilocalorie. (abbr.: Cal.)
- a unit of energy equal to a large calorie, used for measuring energy value of food oxidized in the body, or the amount of food capable of producing such a unit. (abbr.: Cal.)
Vegetables provide fewer calories in general than fruits and high protein foods.
caloría: The Spanish word caloría means calorie.
These are some examples of how the word or forms of the word are used:
- A calorie is a unit of energy.
- Pay attention to calorie counts posted on menus.
- For one thing, the calorie count in juice can add up fast.
- A calorie is a measure of the amount of energy from food.
- A calorie is a measure of the amount of energy a food can provide.
- Simply cutting your calorie intake may help you lose weight, but it also slows your metabolism.
- Fad diets work by cutting your total calorie intake, but once you stop following them, you are likely to gain your weight right back.
organic or ·gan ·ic
- of, affecting, or relating to an organ of a plant or animal.
Epilepsy is an organic disease, but it was misunderstood in past centuries and sometimes seen as a form of demonic possession.
- of or pertaining to compounds that contain carbon. (Cf. inorganic.)
Methane is an organic compound.
Water is an organic molecule.
- producing or produced naturally, as food, without the use of chemical pesticides, growth enhancers, additives, and the like.
Some of the smaller farms in the area have taken up organic farming.
You can get all kinds of organic produce at the farmers market.
- pertaining to or coming from living sources.
Scientists analyzed the material to see if it contained any organic matter.
Oil from the ground is an organic substance, but there is synthetically produced oil as well.
- developing in a manner akin to living things.
The professor pointed to the organic growth of the poem.
- being an integral or fundamental part of a whole.
The theme of repentance is organic to the novel.
orgánico : The Spanish word orgánico means organic.
These are some examples of how the word or forms of the word are used:
- Organic compounds contain one or more carbon atoms.
- Wash fruits and veggies well before eating them, or buy organic
- The cows eat organic grass under the sunshine for most of their lives.
- The most interesting organic compounds that Hazen found were simple sugars, amino acids, and lipids.
- Robert Hazen’s pressure-bomb experiments created a number oforganic molecules, including simple sugars, amino acids, and lipids – the main building blocks of life.
- Other organic molecules like to cling to the surface of certain minerals. Life’s earliest molecules might have been attracted to rocks and minerals on the ocean floor.
- After a few hours, he cracked open his back-in-time capsule. Inside he found thousands of newly made compounds, including many organic Organic compounds contain one or more carbon atoms.
- “Soup’s on! I try to feed her onlyorganic stuff, so I make all this stuff at home.” Matt spoons some sweet potatoes into Elsie’s mouth and then takes a bite of his own meal.
- For now, Hazen is concentrating his efforts here on Earth, trying to work out how young, organic molecules might have found one another in the big, lonely ocean. In other labs across the country, scientists are looking at how those molecules might have joined together and started copying themselves.
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