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The American diet is high on calories, sugar, and carbohydrates but low on vital nutrients. This has resulted in problems such as obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis. Read on to find out some shocking facts about America’s diet.
The rate at which America’s obese population is multiplying is alarming. With the steadfast increase in obesity in America, there has been a simultaneous increase in the occurrence various health-related issues. The average American diet primarily consists of doughnuts, cakes, cookies, sodas, potato chips, candies, and ice creams.
The nutrient quotient of most of these foods is minimal and as a result there has been a sharp increase in the number of people suffering from diabetes and chronic diseases. People simply end up piling on calories with very little or almost negligible nutrients.

Listed below are some startling facts about America’s diet.

1.    Excess of meat proteins

American diet comprises a lot of red meat and dairy products. Americans consume about 90-100 grams meat on a daily basis as compared to their daily requirement of about 30-50 grams. Red meat is rich in proteins which are essential for a nutritious diet.
However, excess of proteins effects the normal functioning of the pancreas and decreases the enzyme activity of the body. Excess of red meat even decreases the calcium levels in the human body. Other harmful effects of an excess protein diet include heart attacks, liver, breast, and bladder cancer, and leukemia.

2.    Excess of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners

An average American consumes about 750 dough nuts, 65 pound cookies and cakes, and 25 gallons of ice cream per year. Eating excess of sugar manifests itself in the form of diabetes which has increased by leaps and bounds. As per a recent study, every one out of ten Americans is diabetic. Americans rely heavily on processed food and eat meals out of boxes, cans, jars, and bottles. A lot of processed foods are extremely low on nutrients and high on artificial sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup and sugar affect the liver and are known to contribute towards type 2 diabetes and obesity.

3.    Excess of diet soda

A vast majority of people opt for diet soda instead of the regular soda as they feel that it is a healthier choice and they can cut down on their calorie intake. Diet soda is high on artificial sweeteners such as aspartame which actually make you even hungrier. Aspartame can also make control of insulin levels difficult in diabetics. Other negative effects of aspartame include metabolic disorders, retinopathy, and cataracts. Diet sodas can also cause leaching of calcium from the bones and this can eventually lead to osteoporosis. Consumption of diet sodas also triggers the risk of strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.

5.    Less of fiber

Most Americans consume negligible amount of fibers on a daily basis. The largest sources of fibers include vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. The typical American diet is quite low on fibers. As per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a high fiber diet contributes to lowering the blood cholesterol levels. It also lowers the risk of obesity and coronary diseases. Most processed foods that Americans consume are low on fibers.

6.    Excess of refined carbohydrates

A major chunk of the American diet comprises wheat, flour, and refined grains which are broken down quickly by the body and have almost negligible nutritional value. Wheat, a popularly consumed grain, contains gluten, which is often difficult to digest. A number of people are even allergic to gluten. The high starchy content in certain grains might result in chronic constipation and poor digestion. Most fast foods, pastas, cereals, and white bread are rich sources of carbohydrates.

7.    Excess consumption of unhealthy fats

Consuming excess of unhealthy saturated fats can increase the risk of coronary diseases. Common sources of saturated fats include red meat, pork, poultry, and dairy products which contribute directly towards elevating the cholesterol levels in the human body. Certain processed fats even contain trans-fats which are known to clog arteries and trigger the risk of a heart attack. Some common sources of trans-fats include crackers, margarine, potato chips, microwave popcorn, and cookies.

8.    Excess intake of sodium

American diet is also a little high on sodium which is typically added by restaurants for adding flavor and increasing the shelf life of food. The adequate requirement of sodium per day is only about 1500 mg or less but most Americans consume about 3500 mg of sodium per day.

9.    Excess consumption of soy

A number of Americans believe that soy is rich in healthy protein. On the contrary, soy is considered to be a goitrogen and trypsinogen blocker and slows the regular functioning of the thyroid gland. It also affects the protein assimilation capability of our body. Soy that is readily available in the market is often, genetically modified.

10.    Consumption of pesticides and genetically modified foods

More than 70% of over-the-counter processed foods contain at least one ingredient that is genetically modified. Many fruits and vegetables sold in the market are grown from genetically modified seeds with the objective of bringing out certain specific properties. The genetically modified foods are low on nutrients and minerals. The fresh tomatoes that you get in the market are often picked prematurely and artificially ripened with the help of hormones.
Apples are often treated with radiation to appear fresher. Non-organic grapes and its sub-products (such as jellies and juices) are known to contain an extremely toxic pesticide, sulfuryl fluoride. A number of energy drinks are high on chemicals, synthetic caffeine, and high fructose corn syrup.
 
An unhealthy diet that is not balanced in terms of vital nutrients and minerals, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, can lead to heart diseases, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. Therefore, before consuming your food, it is imperative to weigh its nutrient quotient to ensure that all your daily requirements for a healthy diet are being met.
Continue reading after recommendations

  • “Diet Quality of Americans”, by Eileen Kennedy, et al. Published in the 1999 issue Healthy Eating Index of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, accessed on July 16, 2012
  • “Assessment of the food safety issues related to genetically modified foods”, by Harry A. Kuiper, et al. Published in the June 2001 issue of The Plant Journal, accessed on July 16, 2012.
  • Photo courtesy of waynemah on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/waynemah/154417239
  • Photo courtesy of sifu_renka on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/sifu_renka/4582692769