NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With the snow finally melted and the weather now pleasant for the first time in months, there’s no better time to start getting in shape for summer with a spring diet. Here’s a rundown of some foods to avoid and some others that are worth indulging in on the path to a heath lifestyle.
Nuts – Indulge
In addition to being tasty and lower in fat that other snacks, like chips and French fries, nuts have a number of health benefits. For example, almonds, which are an excellent source of calcium, contain monounsaturated fat, which can be helpful in lowering cholesterol levels.
Smoothies – Avoid
While they seem like a healthier alternative to sugary milk shakes because they are made with real fruit and a variety protein powder additives, franchises like Jamba Juice and Smoothie King are notorious for selling smoothies that have more sugar in the them than a large cup of classic Coca-Cola.
Vegetable Juice – Indulge
As compared to fruit juice, vegetable juices, such as V8, are chock full of vitamins and minerals without all the sugar. Tomato juice is rich in antioxidants, which can reduce the risk of contracting prostate cancer. Drinking a glass of nutrient-packed carrot juice before a meal can be very helpful with digestion.
Salads – Avoid
This warning applies to salads sold in fast food restaurants, like McDonalds. While the Premium Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken may sound a lot better than a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder, but they have about the same amount of fat and calories. It’s also important to keep fatty toppings, like bacon bits and cheese, off of your homemade salads.
Wheat Germ – Indulge
Instead of sprinkling some sugar on a bowl of Corn Flakes or Quaker Oats, give wheat germ a try. The grain extract is plentiful in thiamine, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and a host of nutrients, and its unusual taste and textual will make breakfast a little more interesting.
Greek Yogurt – Avoid
While Greek yogurt is all the rage these days because of its remarkable thickness and high calcium content, it does have some drawbacks. Before stocking up on Fage six packs, it’s important to check out the fat content. A 17.6 ounce container of the protein-rich snack has 11 grams of fat.
Spinach – Indulge
In terms of nutrition, Popeye had the right idea in gobbling down cans of iron-rich spinach. The leafy green superfood is high in folic acid, vitamin C and A. Its copious quantities of carotenoids, like beta carotene and lutein, are useful in preventing maladies like macular degeneration and heart disease later in life.
Soda – Avoid
About half of the people living in the United States guzzle down sugary drinks, like soda and energy drinks, on a daily basis. As such, it’s worth keeping in mind that the average 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola contains about 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar. Even diet sodas aren’t the best idea when weight loss is the goal as the artificial sweeteners used in popular beverages, like Diet Coke, have been proven to contribute to weight gain.
Mario McKellop is a freelance writer who has covered the pop culture beat since 2010.