Hidden killer in your pantry

The average Australian ingests up to 14 teaspoons of free sugar per day, which is five to eight teaspoons more than the recommended amount, according to a study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. While sugar is widely positioned as enemy No.1, there are other products lurking in our pantries that can cause just as much damage.

Some of the foods we choose that contain sugar substitutes and other refined carbohydrates are just as dangerous, according to Elanya van Heerden, the editor of Wisdom magazine.

Some of these ingredients lead to an array of health problems, including digestive issues, mood instability, hair loss, joint problems, a lack of mental clarity and many more.

The ingredients that could cause serious health problems are some artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, refined carbohydrates and products high in sodium.

“To reduce our dangerously high sugar intake, artificial sweeteners are often considered an easy substitute,” Ms van Heerden said.

“Refined carbohydrates, such as pasta and breakfast cereals, are thought to be healthy, and high sodium products including frozen dinners, soups and processed meats are quick and easy options we often turn to.

“Each of these has the potential to wreak havoc on our health and wellbeing. Fortunately, there is a lot of easily accessible information that can assist in cutting out or replacing these items with healthier choices.”

The majority of Australians have access to healthy, fresh food. However, incorporating it into the daily diet is not as widespread a habit as it should be.

“We’re fortunate enough in Australia to have access to delicious, and usually locally grown, produce – and many of us do take advantage of that,” Ms van Heerden said.

“We’ve become aware of the negatives of a diet loaded with sugar, and while a lot of us are consciously cutting it out, we need to be aware of the other nasties lurking in our cupboards.

“Every household has its staples that are easy to whip up on a busy weeknight, but it’s time to make a change and look into how they can be replaced with something just as easy, equally delicious,” she said.

How do you ensure you have a healthy balanced diet at home? What meals would you recommend to others?

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