Some popular diets recommend avoiding white foods completely due to health concerns over refined sugars and flours. Cakes and cookies for adult and children's birthday parties, crackers and chips for social gatherings and family dinner tables laden with yeast rolls, white rice or buttery mashed potatoes are white foods that you may want to limit or avoid completely while working to improve your health and diet.
Dr. David Kessler describes white food as robbed of its nutrients, very easy to eat in great quantities and not satisfying, in his book "The End of Overeating." The white flour you purchase in the store or a food manufacturer uses for breads, some cereals and boxed foods bears little resemblance to the original wheat. Food manufacturers who use white flour separate the wheat kernel from its germ and bran layer, bleach the remaining part of the wheat and use it in foods. The nutrients you lose through the manufacturing process and the high caloric content of white foods such as white sugar make these white foods less healthy choices.
You should avoid eating pastas, breads, crackers, pastries, cereals, granola bars, snack foods and other choices made with white flour, if you are attempting to follow a no-white-food diet. If you are unsure whether the flour used in brown breads you purchase is white flour or not, read the nutrition label and look for the words "100 percent whole-wheat." When purchasing pasta, use dried pastas made from spinach or whole-wheat flour rather than pastas made from white flour. Read the ingredient list on cereals and snack foods to determine whether the flour is whole-wheat or white.
White sugar is high in calories, with a single teaspoon containing 16 calories. Although white sugar is a carbohydrate, you do not need white sugar to meet your carbohydrate requirement as plant foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains can provide you with all the carbohydrates you need. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting refined sugars and eating one-half of your calories in healthy, natural carbohydrates.
Similar to the removal of the wheat kernel, white rice also has the healthier outer layer removed. White rice and other refined grains may lead to an increase in type 2 diabetes, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. If you are unaccustomed to using brown or wild rice, mix half white with the healthier option until you can switch completely.
White Potatoes and Salt
Potatoes have nutrients and are low in calories, but potatoes are a high glycemic food, and eating too many high glycemic foods may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Many fast foods are potato-based, such as french fries, potato chips, fried hash brown patties and mashed potatoes. Salt is another white food that you should monitor carefully, but not avoid altogether, as your body requires salt for correct fluid balance. However, the American Heart Association indicates that excess salt in your diet can bring about high blood pressure. Never salt your foods and track your sodium intake to stay under 1,500 mg per day.
- "The End of Overeating"; Dr. David A. Kessler; 2009
- MayoClinic.com; Whole Grains: Hearty Options for a Healthy Diet; July 2009
- World Sugar Research Organization; Frequently Asked Questions; 2005
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; Dietary Guidelines for Americans; December 2010
- Harvard School of Public Health: Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes
- American Heart Association: Sodium (Salt or Sodium Chloride)