This week we explore a variety of foods and facts for our A-Z.
Burgers, chips, fries, KFC, Maccers, kebabs, crisps, sweets, chocolate, there's a LOT of foods that fall under the 'junk food' heading.
But what I hear you ask exactly is 'junk food'? The likelihood is that if you're having to ask that, the probability is that you are already eating it.
It's everywhere - in our supermarkets, on our high streets, in our cinemas, on all of our media channels - always looking finger lickin' good.
However the moment on the lips that you might think tastes like nectar is at the same time as making you momentarily happy - is making your body unhappy.
What is Junk Food?
Junk food is food that often has very high calories, fat and sugar and often little nutritional value. As a result is known as empty calories as your body isn't able to gain anything from the food it is taking in that will be beneficial for it. You could look at it as food being consumed purely for pleasure rather than food being consumed for sustenance and to fuel our bodies.
Why is junk food so bad?
Not only is the fact that is has little nutritional value bad, but junk food often doesn't have a very high satiation value. This means that often when you eat junk food - it doesn't fill you up - so you carry on eating more which can lead to overeating.
When you fill up on junk food you are replacing your meals with food that isn't nourishing your body, rather than filling yourself up on nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables.
Another reason why junk food is so bad for you is that our stomachs produce various microbial species which help our body cells combat things like obesity, diabetes, coronary diseases etc - unfortunately junk food kills these microbial species which then negatively impacts on our body - promoting issues like being overweight.
What types of food are classified as junk food?
There are lots of foods that can be classified as junk food. Junk food is often highly processed and can include the following:
Snacks like cakes and biscuits
Crisps and other processed snacks
Fried fast food
Sugary, fizzy drinks like coca-cola, lemonade etc.
Processed fast foods like chips, pizzas, burgers etc, even some sugar-laden breakfast cereals can be bad for you too!
How do I know if the food I am eating might be bad for me?
The NHS have a great guide to dietary guidelines on the levels of fat, sugar and sodium that we should be eating in our foods - you can use this when purchasing food to see whether the food is in the high or low category.
High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g
High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g
High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g
High: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium) Low: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
When buying food how can I make sure I am choosing things that are good for me?
You cannot have control over the amount of sugar, fat and salt that is used in processed foods but you can be conscious in what you choose to buy.
The government have devised a useful system to help us in our food purchasing.
Its a big like the traffic light system - red, amber, green.
It is designed to help you keep a check over the foods you are buying and how much sugar, fat and salt they contain. These labels are often on the front of packaging but can be on the back or side and are very helpful to guide you when shopping.
Remember as with driving, red is stop, amber is get ready and green is go - so when referring to food apply this same principle - if you see red - maybe stop and think about what it is you're buying; if you see amber - go cautiously and if you see green - load them in to your trolley!
Try and go for product with more greens and ambers and fewer reds if you want to make a healthier choice.
What it is important to remember also though is that we can all treat ourselves from time to time and we should enjoy it when we do, but we must ensure that our consumption of 'junk food' doesn't become our everyday diet and outweigh the other nutritious foods that our body needs to provide us with the vitamins and nutrients that we require in order to stay healthy and full of vitality.
That wonderful sticky, sweet, fruity jar of deliciousness that is so tasty piled on scones with clotted cream, spread on toast and topped with peanut butter or used to sandwich together a big sponge cake.
It's not something we should eat lots of as it's packed full of sugar but it's a great way to use up some old fruit like oranges to make it in to a marmalade or some rather squishy berries.
All you need to make some is fruit and sugar and the glass jars to store it in! Simple.
Raspberry jam is a quick and easy jam to make so it's a good place to start. Here's a simple recipe from The Guardian.
Ingredients: Makes 3 450g (1lb) pots.
900g (2lb) fresh or frozen berries 900g (2lb) white sugar, warmed (use 110g/4oz less if the fruit is very sweet)
Wash, dry and sterilise either 3 x 450g jars or a number of smaller jars. Put the jars in the oven for 15 minutes.
Put the berries into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan. Mash them a little and cook for 3–4 minutes over a medium heat until the juice begins to run, then add the warmed sugar and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Increase the heat, bring to the boil and cook steadily for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently (frozen berries will take 6 minutes).
Test for a set by putting about a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate and leaving it for a few minutes in a cool place. Press the jam with your index finger. If it wrinkles even slightly, it is set. Remove from the heat immediately. Skim and pour into sterilised jam jars. Cover immediately.
Keep jam in a cool place - but it likely won't last long! as homemade tastes infinitely better than shop bought!
Jackfruit is a tropical tree fruit from Southwest India.
Because of its dense fibrous texture it is a great substitute to meat and is often used in vegetarian and vegan dishes and is superb in a curry.
As a brilliant sources of fibre it is a great food to help keep digestive issues at bay as well as helping lower the risk of things like heart disease or bowel cancer.
It also helps you feel fuller for longer.
Jackfruit contains potassium which is responsible for helping to lower blood pressure which helps reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes and bone loss.
Finally it can be helpful to those with diabetes as your body absorbs and digests it more slowly than some other foods.
Quick Eats: Jackfruit Curry
A quick a easy curry here from The Happy Foodie blog to make at home only needing a few staple kitchen cupboard ingredients.
10 cloves of garlic
3cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion
1 tbsp salt
100ml vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chilli paste
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp curry powder
2 x 565g tins jackfruit in brine
fresh coriander, chopped½lime
In a food processor, blitz the garlic, ginger, onion and salt to a smooth paste. Add water if you need to, but very little.
Put the oil into a large non-stick pan over a medium heat.
Add the cinnamon and fry for 20 seconds. Then add the paste from the processor and cook for 5 minutes – if it starts to stick, add splashes of water.
Stir in the chilli paste, tomato purée, turmeric and curry powder.
While that cooks on a medium heat, drain the jackfruit and cut it into small, bite-size pieces. Add them to the pan, then stir in the water and leave to simmer gently until totally dry.
To finish the jackfruit curry, stir in the coriander, drizzle with a squeeze of fresh lime, and you are ready to eat. There is enough here for 4 meals, so if you have any curry left over, you can freeze it for another day.