With Christmas around the corner and although we’re filled with holiday cheer, there is no doubt that we will also be bombarded with imagery of the people in the world who are hungry. We’re all bound to be surrounded by food drives, whether it is at the local grocery store, elementary schools or at work… they are everywhere!
Before you start emptying your cabinets of all kinds of canned food items and other non-perishables, there’s a few foods that are banned from being donated. Who knew? This is the most valuable time to educate donors and recipients alike about the items being donated and the hunger crisis that is facing our nation. Ruthi Solari, clinical nutritionist and the founder of SuperFood Drive, a non-profit committed to improving the health of the hungry, is stepping in to educate about which five ingredients we should stop donating now.
1. Sugar: Studies show that sugar is more addictive than morphine! Sugar is the most prevalent drug in our society and its overconsumption is wreaking havoc on our health. There is overwhelming evidence of the link between obesity and the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Look for items that have no added sugar.
2. High fructose corn syrup: Foods that contain high fructose corn syrup block the ability of our bodies to realize we are full causing us to eat more than what we need. Look for items without high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients list.
3. Enriched white flour: When flour is processed and enriched, the nutritional value that is found in the bran and endosperm of a wheat kernel is removed‹and we are left with a simple carbohydrate that causes our blood sugar to spike (white flour without the protein and fat from the whole grain turns into a sugar faster), and we don¹t receive the health benefits available in sprouted whole wheat. Select whole grain varieties.
4. Sodium: Salt is a natural preservative and flavor enhancer. Many processed foods are VERY high in salt. The US Dietary Guidelines recommend that people consume less than 2,300 mg sodium/day. To put this in perspective, 1Ž2 package of top ramen has 910 mg sodium! So if you eat the entire package, you are eating 1,820 mg sodium in one meal!! Canned soup is also very high in sodium. One serving of Campbell¹s Vegetable soup has 890 mg of sodium! (more than 1/3 the daily intake). Look for low sodium options.
5. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (Trans fat): This is an ingredient you¹ll see mostly in processed foods, like crackers and chips. The good oils for our bodies are liquids that can be stored at room temperature, but the liquid oils would cause the product to have a minimal shelf life, so hydrogen has been added to the oils to make it solid, allowing the products to live on the shelf for a long time‹which is unhealthy for us. Look for items without trans fat.
Ruthi is helping make a difference by educating how to make food drive donations healthy to provide nutritious meals for children, adults and seniors who struggle with hunger and need the nutritional foods to fuel their bodies to live healthy lives. This holiday season, try donating brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, canned tuna or different healthier options!
Happy, healthy giving!