You’ve probably been told over and over again that veggies are extremely healthy at burning fat, but truth is, there are SIX specific veggies that you absolutely MUST avoid if you ever want to have a flat stomach…
Packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber, it’s no secret that a diet plentiful in vegetables confers many health benefits including burning fat.
Increasing vegetable consumption and eating a diet containing copious amounts of colorful produce reduces the risk of heart disease (including heart attack and stroke), stroke, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even certain types of cancer.
Before delving into these foods and ingredients, it’s important to remind you that, in the grand scheme of things, your health, fitness, performance, and body composition are contingent on your entire body of “nutrition work”—not an individual food or single meal.
In other words, there’s no “magic” bullet.
Instead of viewing foods in isolation as “good” or “bad,” think about weight management and “deep health” as the product of practicing healthy eating habits, creating a positive food environment, and choosing high-quality, nutritious foods in appropriate amounts relative to your goals and activity levels regularly and consistently over time.
Good nutrition takes practice, and just like getting better and mastering anything in life, it’s about progress—not perfection.
Start where you are and make small changes that you are ready, willing, and able to take on; focus on mastering those new behaviors, one step at a time. With that being said, let’s get to those foods!
by: Joel Marion, CISSN & Tim Skwiat, Pn2 (Founder of Biotrust Nutrition)
1. Vegetable Oils
Experts estimate that throughout human history the optimal ratio for consumption of omega-6 fatty acids (e.g., linoleic acid) to omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., alpha linolenic acid, DHA, EPA) was about 1:1.
With the contemporary diet, this ratio has shifted dramatically in favor of omega-6 fatty acids to 20:1.
While there are multiple explanations, including a decrease in omega-3 fatty acid consumption from freshwater fish, researchers attribute this in large part to the ubiquity of vegetable oils (e.g., soybean oil) present in the Western diet.
This is important for a number of reasons, especially when it comes to promoting a healthy inflammatory response.
For example, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects (e.g., suppress IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, and IL-6) whereas omega-6 fatty acids do not.
What’s more, studies show that omega-6 fats promote inflammation, particularly when they are consumed in excess of omega-3 fats.
In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, French researchers assessed the effects of a 10-week diet modification to decrease the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in healthy subjects on various health parameters, including inflammatory markers.
The researchers found that diet intervention (i.e., decreased omega-6 and increased omega-3 fatty acids) resulted in significant reductions in TNF-alpha and “multiple favorable effects on the metabolic and inflammatory profiles.”
Additionally, the participants demonstrated significant increases in the hormone adiponectin, which is associated with enhanced insulin sensitivity.
What’s more, adiponectin is considered an important fat-burning hormone, as it has been shown to facilitate fat burning (i.e., fat oxidation) in both muscles and the liver.
Along those lines, the 10-week diet modification did, in fact, result in a significant increase in fat oxidation.
This finding is consistent with previous work in which researchers found that supplementation with 6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids for just 3 weeks significantly increased fat oxidation and resulted in 2.5 times greater fat loss compared to when participants supplemented with an equivalent amount of visible fat, which included vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids (e.g., sunflower and peanut oils).
The modern food supply is rife with industrial vegetable oils (e.g., soybean, safflower,sunflower, corn, etc.)
Rich in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, and research suggests that an increase in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., freshwater fish, fish oil supplements) and a concomitant decrease in omega-6 fatty acids is crucial to promotinga healthy inflammatory response and reducing the risk of inflammation-related conditions, including mood disorders, mental illnesses, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
It’s widely accepted that unhealthy levels of inflammation contribute to fat gain and obesity, and vice versa.
With that said, you’re not entirely to blame for the increase in omega-6 fatty acid consumption.
In fact, advice to substitute industrial vegetable oils rich in these polyunsaturated fatty acids for animal fats high in saturated fatty acids has been a cornerstone of worldwide dietary guidelines for the past half century.
However, in a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2013, a group of researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that this advice is heavily misguided, and they concluded that “substituting dietary linoleic acid (i.e., vegetable
oils) in place of saturated fats increased the rates of death from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.”
While omega-6 fatty acids are indeed important, a deficiency is nearly impossible, as you’ll get more than enough of these essential fats when you consume a diet rich in minimally-processed, nutrient-dense whole foods.
You can start to reduce your consumption of omega-6 fatty acids by eliminating processed foods including the following industrial vegetable oils, which you’ll find in all kinds of packaged goods (e.g., salad dressings, sauces, breads, baked goods, prepared foods, and more):
Percentage of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in common industrial vegetable oils:
2. Deep-Fried Veggies
Two words: trans fats. French fries, onion rings, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, deep-fried mushrooms, and vegetables prepared tempura style are just a handful of examples of foods formerly known as vegetables that have taken a trip to the deep fryer.
Many restaurants use partially hydrogenated oils when they fry foods like these because these types of oils, which are the major dietary source of industrial produced trans fats, can be used many times in commercial fryers.
If you’re not completely familiar with trans fatty acids, a good starting point is the recent determination by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that partially hydrogenated oils are not safe for human consumption.
Nutritionally speaking, trans fatty acids serve no purpose, and as Erin Russell, Assistant Editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, puts it, “Partially hydrogenated oils are entirely artificial and would not be in our food supply if they weren’t economically attractive to the food industry.”
Why are partially hydrogenated oils so attractive to the food industry? Production of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (like those mentioned above) was developed because of low cost, long shelf life, and suitability for commercial frying and transport.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that consumption of trans fats is as low as possible. In essence, industrial-produced trans fats are like tobacco in the sense that they’re not beneficial at any dose. For instance, the IOM cites evidence that any intake of industrial-produced trans fats (above zero) will increase one’s risk for cardiovascular disease.
But the problems don’t start and stop with an increased risk of heart disease. In fact, there’s evidence that suggest that a number of negative health outcomes are correlated with trans fat intake, including weight gain and obesity.
Trans fats have also been associated with an unhealthy inflammatory response, endothelial dysfunction, and decreased insulin sensitivity.
Along the lines of weight gain, trans fat intake has been associated with abdominal obesity.
Even in the absence of excessive caloric intake, controlled animal studies have shown that trans fats are an independent factor for weight gain, including enhanced storage of abdominal fat.
In one study published in the journal Obesity Surgery, Brazilian researchers discovered that there was a higher content of trans fatty acids in the visceral fat of obese folks, suggesting that trans fats may be preferentiallystored as deep abdominal fat.
This is particularly worrisome because visceral fat (i.e., abdominal obesity) is associated with a laundry list of negative health outcomes and a “constellation of metabolicabnormalities,” including:
• High triglycerides
• Low levels of “good” cholesterol (i.e., HDL)
• High levels of apolipoprotein B (which is considered a better predictor of cardiovascular risk than the more commonly used LDL)
• Small, dense LDL and HDL particles (small, dense particles are considered more detrimental than large, fluffy particles)
• Unhealthy levels of inflammation
• Insulin resistance
• Poor carbohydrate tolerance and metabolism
• Leptin resistance
Unfortunately, the news gets worse.
If it wasn’t bad enough that the partially hydrogenated oils that restaurants use contain trans fats, the base oils are the very same industrial vegetable oils (e.g., corn, soybean) that were discussed in the previous section.
So, not only do your fried vegetables come with an unhealthy dose of trans fats, they’ll also be laden with amounts of omega-6 fats, which contribute to an unhealthy inflammatory response when consumed out of balance with omega-3 fats.
3. Corn-Based Foods and Ingredients
As a nutrition enthusiast who’s interested in improving your food choices and eating habits, it’s quite possible that you are already well aware that corn is not technically a vegetable; rather, it’s a grain.
However, because the overwhelming majority of folks tend to classify corn as a veggie, we thought it might be a good idea to discuss it within the context of this report, especially considering that corn is one of the top four most-heavily subsidized crops in the United States.
Thus, farmers have serious incentive to plant it; in fact, corn is the number one crop grown in the United States. Although the topic of genetically modified organisms
(GMOs) is both complex and controversial, it’s also worth pointing out that nearly all (i.e., ~90%) of the corn grown in the United States is genetically engineered.
It’s no wonder how corn and all its myriad derivatives have become so ubiquitous in the food supply.
As a matter of fact, the list of potential corn-based ingredients is far too exhaustive to list here.
However, here are some common suspects that you may find in the list of ingredients on any given processed, packaged, or prepared food:
• Corn (i.e., milled)
• Corn oil
• Corn starch
• Corn sugar
• Corn syrup, corn syrup solids
• Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
• Modified food starch
• Powdered sugar
And, of course, there’s one more notable ingredient derived from corn, which is often vilified as one of the biggest health-derailing villains: High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Researchers have linked HFCS availability and consumption to obesity and metabolic dysfunction (i.e., reduced carbohydrate tolerance and insulin sensitivity).49 HFCS, as well as other refined carbohydrates including sucrose, has been associated with fat accumulation and increased body weight, and some studies have found that HFCS may specifically lead to increased abdominal fat storage.
In one study published in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, researchers from Princeton University found that rats with access to HFCS gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall
caloric intake was the same.
The researchers concluded: “This increase in body weight with HFCS was accompanied by an increase in adipose fat, notably in the abdominal region, and elevated circulating triglyceride levels. Translated to humans, these results suggest that excessive consumption of HFCS may contribute to the incidence of obesity.”
The concerns over corn consumption don’t start and stop with HFCS.
However, this is not meant to dismiss whole grain sweet corn (i.e., corn on the cob). As a matter of fact, this minimally-processed, whole grain can indeed be a part of balanced nutrition plan, as it is a good source of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber. What’s more, sweet corn has a moderate glycemic index.
That said, it’s preferable to choose organically-grown (or non-GMO verified), as (unbeknownst to consumers) genetically engineered sweet corn is now found on supermarket shelves in the fresh produce, frozen foods, and canned vegetable aisles.
However, the more heavily processed forms of corn (i.e., milled) that you’ll find in cornbased cereals exhibit a significantly higher glycemic index, which means that they contribute to rapid increases in blood sugar and insulin levels. Along these lines, optimal carbohydrate management and insulin sensitivity have major implications for optimizing fat loss and weight management.
Yet another concern, beyond the prevalence of corn as an additive in countless processed foods, is that corn—particularly the genetically engineered variety (i.e., GMO corn)—is a staple of animal feed.
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat”; well, that extends to “You are what you eat eats.”
In other words, the food fed to the animals (e.g., cattle) that you consume has a direct impact its nutrition content.
As mentioned in the previous section on vegetable oils, there is a concerning imbalance between the consumption of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the average person’s diet.
While the rise in consumption of vegetable oils plays a significant role in this dietary imbalance, it’s also worth mentioning that the consumption of meat (and dairy) from grain-fed feedlot animals directly contributes as well.
In other words, not all meat and dairy is created equally.
For example, beef and dairy from grass-fed cattle may be a superior option over standard grain-fed options.
Interestingly, regardless of whether beef is from grain- or grass-fed cattle, its fatty acid profile will be about 40-50% saturated fat, about 40-50% monounsaturated fat, and somewhere near 10% polyunsaturated fat. However, the diet of the cow can significantly influence the types of each fat present.
Depending on the breed of cow, grass-fed beef contains up to 5 times more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef.54 The average ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in grass-fed beef is 1.5:1, which is much closer to what’s often considered “ideal.”
On the contrary, in grain-fed beef, this ratio jumps all the way up to nearly 8:1.
In addition to a much healthier omega-3 fatty acid profile, grass-fed beef is one of the best dietary sources of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), as it contains an average of 2 to 3 times more CLA than grain-fed beef.
CLA possesses antioxidant activity, and research has shown it to reduce body fat, increase lean body mass, and improve body composition.
Similar differences in fatty acid profiles are noted in dairy from pasture-raised (i.e., grass-fed) cows compared to those that are fed substantial quantities of grains, particularly corn.
In one study published in the journal PLOS One, researchers from the United States and United Kingdom compared samples of dairy from organic (i.e., pasture-raised) versus conventional (i.e., grain/corn-fed) cows, and they found that organic dairy (e.g., milk, yogurt, butter) contains:
- 25% fewer omega-6 fatty acids
- 62% more omega-3 fatty acids
- 2.5 times lower omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio, which is much closer to what’s considered to be “optimal”
- 32% more EPA and 19% more DHA, which are two omega-3 fatty acids crucial for nervous system function, cardiovascular health, pain management, hormonal regulation, body composition, feelings of well being, and more
- 18% more CLA
It bears reiteration that the massive imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid consumption coincides with an increase in the incidence of numerous conditions associated with an unhealthy, excessive inflammatory response, including obesity, declining mental health, and metabolic dysfunction.
Not only that, research suggests that over-consumption of omega-6 fatty acids (which has been brought about largely by increased consumption of industrial vegetable oils, generally low consumption of oily fish, vegetables, fruits, and beans, and increased consumption of meat and dairy from grain-fed animals) not only affects you but also potentially your children, as it may increase the incidence of obesity in future generations.
The take-home point here is that it’s important to keep an eye out for corn-based foods and ingredients, which are pervasive in processed, packaged, and prepared foods.
What’s more, it’s recommended to carefully consider meat and dairy choices, as the diet of the animal from which they come can significantly alter the fatty acid composition of the food.
4. Veggie Chips
We’re not talking about homemade kale chips or freshly baked sweet potato chips that you pulled right out of your oven.
Rather, we’re talking about those store-bought veggie chips that you’ll find in the same aisle as potato chips, which you likely already know do little good for your health or waistline.
These veggie chips much more closely resemble those potato chips than they do real vegetables.
In fact, this is exactly what the marketing message wants you realize: They are “less bad” than potato chips. But are you looking for “less bad,” or are you looking for optimal?
When you take a look at the ingredients, you’ll see that many of these options are about as close in resemblance to real vegetables as regular potato or corn chips.
That’s right, they’re a far cry from what you might think. Sure, potatoes are considered a vegetable— and as previously discussed, corn is often as well—however, would you consider a bag of traditional potato or corn chips to be a vegetable?
These products frequently share similar ingredients, such as potato starch, potato flour, and corn starch, as well as industrial vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, and sunflower oils.
As you read in the previous section, those vegetable oils are going to do little to help you optimize your health and body composition.
Just like traditional potato chips, the majority of these veggie chips also boast less that 1 gram of fiber per serving. As you may recall from the introduction, one of the many benefits associated with real vegetables is their high fiber content.
With all of that being said, while veggie chips may be “less bad” than run-of-the-mill potato and corn chips—with a little less saturated fat and sodium—that doesn’t make them a healthy alternative. More importantly, despite the marketing message and name of the product, it does not make them a vegetable.
Even the “less bad” argument may be a bit of a stretch, as you can now find potato chips made with real potatoes, healthier oils (e.g., avocado oil), and fewer ingredients.
If you like a crunchy snack, consider raw veggies (e.g., bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, etc.). Even raw, thinly sliced potatoes and sweet potatoes—with a sprinkle of salt or touch of cinnamon, respectively—are a great-tasting, healthy alternative.
Also, you can try making your own veggie chips at home—with real vegetables and ingredients.
For instance, you might try the following recipe for kale chips.
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (cold-pressed, extra-virgin preferred)
- Preheat oven to 175 degrees.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove kale leaves from the stem and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and dry thoroughly.
- Drizzle kale with coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Place “chips” on parchment paper and bake until the edges brown (but are not burnt), roughly 10-15 minutes.
5. Frozen Vegetables with Sauces
First off, there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with vegetables that are frozen. In fact, depending on your geographical location (i.e., where you live) and the time of the year, buying frozen vegetables may be an even better option than fresh produce.
Generally speaking, frozen produce is picked when it’s ripe, blanched (to stop the ripening process and kill off bacteria), and flash-frozen (an effective preservation method) at their peak freshness.
While fresh vegetables may have the highest nutrient density, unless you have your own garden or have year-round access to a farmer’s market, frozen vegetables may be a superior, cost-effective option for many folks compared to off-season fresh vegetables.
What’s more, frozen vegetables may be more nutritious than fresh vegetables when they’ve been shipped over long distances (e.g., from Mexico to Chicago).
In these cases, the produce is typically picked well before its ripe, which means that it’s likely to contain fewer nutrients (e.g., vitamins, minerals).
In one study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers from the University of California-Davis (UCD) examined the vitamin content (e.g., vitamins A, C, and E, as well as riboflavin) both fresh and frozen samples of the following vegetables: broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans, peas, and spinach.
They found that the frozen vegetables were not only comparable to their fresh counterparts, in several cases, they were higher in micronutrient content. For instance, frozen corn and green beans were higher in vitamin C content than the fresh samples, and over time, less vitamin C was lost in frozen-stored vegetables.
Previous studies have shown similar losses in vitamin C in fresh-stored produce.
The UCD researchers also found that riboflavin was well preserved in the frozen vegetables, with levels comparable to the fresh-stored samples.
As a matter of fact, frozen broccoli actually had a higher riboflavin content than the fresh samples.
Likewise, the frozen vegetables retained as much, if not more, vitamin E than fresh-stored samples, as frozen versions of spinach, corn, green beans, and peas all contained significantly higher amounts compared to fresh samples. Only vitamin A content appeared to be higher in some fresh-stored samples.
In addition to assessing the vitamin content of frozen- versus fresh-stored vegetables, in a separate study, the group of UCD researchers found that the mineral (e.g., calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper), fiber, and polyphenol content of all of the vegetables were “well retained” and “well conserved” in the frozen samples compared to the fresh vegetables.
The researchers concluded that frozen vegetables represent “nutritionally viable alternatives” to fresh produce.
However, as you’ve already witnessed, it’s certainly plausible that a good thing can go terribly wrong, and this is precisely the case with frozen vegetables doused in sauces (e.g., cheese sauces, “butter” sauces, “light” sauces, etc.).
These sauces are typically rife with added salt, sugar, and those very same industrial vegetable oils and trans fats that have been previously discussed.
While frozen vegetables can indeed be a viable alternative to fresh produce, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for additives like these sauces.
6. Commercial Vegetable Juices
The promises of vegetable juices are alluring. In just one small glass, you can get the equivalent of two servings of vegetables per day.
Maybe according to the company marketing the vegetable juice—not the USDA. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2010 Dietary Guidelines, one cup of vegetable juice equals one cup of vegetables.
In other words, that seems to be more of a one-to-one (as opposed to two-to-one) equivalency.
Even then, does that mean that commercial vegetable juice provides the same nutrient density (e.g., micronutrients, phytonutrients, fiber) and health benefits?
In one study published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease, researchers set out to examine the effects of a commercial vegetable juice on a variety of health and anthropometric parameters including body weight and body fat percentage.
What was particularly interesting about the findings of this study is that participants who drank commercial vegetable juice twice daily for 4 weeks significantly increased body weight—by over 4 pounds—as well as body mass index
What’s more, even though consumption of the commercial vegetable juice significantly increased the participants’ total vegetable intake compared to baseline, the intervention with the vegetable juice did not result in any significant increases in any vitamins or minerals (except for potassium), and on top of that, the participants’ fiber intake decreased.
It’s also worth pointing out that very few commercial vegetable juices only contain veggies.
Generally speaking, the majority of these are a combination of vegetable and fruit juices.
While there’s nothing wrong with including whole fruits in your diet—in fact, it’s highly recommended to optimize health and body composition—commercial fruit juice is essentially a concentration of the sugar found in fruit.
Beyond the obvious connection to excessive sugar consumption, research shows that the digestion of liquids (e.g., juice) occurs faster than the digestion of solid foods.
In other words, drinking these juices results in a much more rapid increase in blood sugar compared to if you’d opted for the whole fruit.
Another nutrient that affects the rate of digestion—and subsequently, blood sugar and energy levels, as well as feelings of fullness—is fiber, and unfortunately, the abundance of commercial vegetable juices pale in comparison to their solid, fiber-filled counterparts, as the juicing process strips away the valuable fiber found in produce.
As you may have heard, fiber is a nutrition all-star, as it promotes a healthy digestive tract, regularity, improves carbohydrate management (e.g., slowed gastric emptying), promotes satiety, reduces calorie intake, and enhances weight loss.
Unfortunately, most people don’t consume nearly enough dietary fiber, and swapping juice for whole vegetables does little to help. According to American Dietetic Association, the average American consumes a paltry 15 grams of dietary fiber per day, only about
HALF of the recommended daily intake.
As you might have imagined, research has linked low fiber intakes to increased risk for diabetes and obesity.
On top of that, research also shows that liquids don’t tend to be as satiating as whole foods, and even when calories are identical between liquid and solid food meals, liquids leave people feeling more hungry and result in eating more calories in subsequent meals.
While consuming low-energy-dense vegetables increases feelings of fullness and satisfaction and subsequently decreases calorie intake and reduces body fat, the same cannot said to be true with juices.
With all of that being said, while it’s quite clear that a diet rich in vegetables possesses tremendous health benefits and supports weight management, just because a food is made with or from vegetables does not mean that it provides equivalent advantages.
We hope that this article has helped to shine a light on some of those foods and ingredients that may appear to be healthy or marketed as such, but compared to their whole food, unadulterated counterparts, not so much.
What’s more, we hope that you have found this to be a helpful resource in your journey to improve your nutrition, health, and body composition.
If you enjoyed this article make sure to leave a comment below and if you’d like to find out how you can lose 3 pounds by tomorrow, click the next page button below.
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