this day and age we, as consumers, need to be a lot more conscious of what we put in our mouths. We are living in an age of new scientific discovery, where scientists are regularly updating the public on what is healthy. At the same time a lot of myths are being debunked, and many widely believed notions are being challenged. To make matters worse, nearly everything outside of organic stores is genetically modified and packed with mystery hormones and chemicals.
Aside from GMO’s, there are a lot of other popular foods that we need to avoid in order to maximize our health. From packaged snacks for the busy, on-the-go mom, to powdered nutrients targeted to the “fit” consumer, there is a lot out there that can do more harm than good. Take a look at your average American for example, it’s tough to be impressed when the national obesity rate is 35%, and nearly 3 in 4 men are at considered to be at least overweight.
If getting that summer body isn’t enough of a motivation, consider your health as a whole. These convenient, and readily available, meals are often times packed with potentially dangerous chemicals in order to maximize their shelf life. This article sets out to point out 25 of the worst offenders, so that you can rid your pantry of these dangerous (yet common) foods and take a step towards a more healthy lifestyle.
#25 – Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn has paved its way into our hearts as a “must have” when it comes to movie night snacks. It makes sense, it’s cheap, it’s tasty, and requires virtually no preparation. Popcorn has become so popular, in fact, that Americans consume about 17 billion quarts of it every year. While popped corn itself is not an unhealthy food, your 3-min microwaveable pack likely is.
#24 – Reduced Fat Foods
In the rise of fad diets, a very strong stigma has been built around fat. The new “health” revolution has demonized it, and manufacturers began selling “reduced fat” and even “fat-free” options of their usual offering. What most people don’t realize is that “fat-free” version of their favorite snack is usually much more unhealthy than the full-fat original.
In order to maintain the flavor of their fat-free goods, manufacturers began adding a lot of salt, sugar, and artificial flavoring to maintain their customers. Interestingly enough, calorie counts in low-fat foods remained largely the same, and sometimes even increased. Ironically, many people that were consuming these “fat-free” foods were doing it with the intention of losing weight, but many have ended up putting some on instead.
#23 – Diet Soda
At this point everybody knows that soda is virtually sugar water, so when diet pop became a thing everyone lost their mind. Clever marketing behind these zero calorie beverages has fooled a large part of the population into thinking that it’s a healthy alternative. Sure, diet soda might be slightly better for your overall health than the regular, full-calorie drink, but by no definition of the word is it “healthy.”
#22 – Kids Cereal
It’s no secret that kids adore sugar, and by now companies have figured out how to easily market it to them (well, to their parents). When your kids fill their bowl with any of the popular cereals they might as well drink a can of soda every morning instead. While Cap’n Crunch and Froot Loops might sound cute, their nutritional content certainly isn’t. Although you can find all of the nutritional information on the box, these brands try very hard to focus your attention on something else instead.
#21 – Non-Dairy Coffee Creamer
There’s nothing wrong with starting your day with a hot cup of coffee, just make sure to do it right. In this fast-paced world of ours, many people like to speed things along by adding a couple of those tiny creamers into their coffee and be on their way. Ironically enough, those people usually believe that their non-dairy creamer is healthier than real cream – think again. In fact, calling non-dairy creamer a “cream” is a stretch.
#20 – Processed Meats
A good rule of thumb is to avoid eating anything processed, this is especially true when it comes to meat. First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what meat is classified as “processed” in the first place. Generally, anything that has been preserved by curing, salting, smoking, drying, or canning would be classified as processed. This includes bacon, sausages, lunch meats, beef jerky, and a slew of others.
Regular consumption of processed meats has been linked with a number of chronic conditions. Some of these include hypertension, heart disease, pulmonary disease, and a number of cancers. Most of the damage is done by the chemicals commonly found in these meats, nitrate compounds for example.
These compounds are added to preserve the color and flavor of the meat, but the trade off is usually heavily skewed towards health risks. Research (on animals) has shown that these compounds play a large role in formation of bowel cancer. The takeaway here is that you don’t want to mess around with processed meats, and try to base your diet on fresh, whole foods.
#19 – Deep Fried Anything
No one is arguing against the “taste factor” when it comes to fried foods, but you should really weigh some of the health concerns before you reach for those chicken nuggets again. Deep fried foods damage your body in many different ways, leaving lasting consequences that add up over time. Think of a car – it needs to have clean oil and fuel to run efficiently and not break down constantly. Similarly, your body needs good food that can be converted into fuel without clogging the “machine” that you have to live with for the rest of your life.
Unfortunately, fried food does the opposite of that. From clogging your veins and arteries to causing obesity and cardiac problems, there isn’t much good that comes from consuming deep fried meals. Aside from the incredibly high caloric content from fat, fried foods generally don’t use the best ingredients either. Most restaurants and fast food joints will use canola oil, which has been linked to emphysema, respiratory distress, and cancer.
In most cases, fast food restaurants will also reuse the oil in their deep fryer for many hours, causing it to create toxic aldehydes. These compounds increase the risk of neurological disorders, leading to improper brain function.
#18 – Condiments
Here we’re talking about mayo, ranch, and ketchup specifically, but condiments, in general, aren’t all that great for you. When consumed in regularity, these foods can have a detrimental effect on your overall health. For starters, mayo and ranch consist mainly of saturated fats, which have been linked to a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, and hypertension.
In most cases, fats found in your favorite condiments come from soybean oil, which is widely regarded as the most processed and the least healthy oil on the market. Soybean oil is usually made from genetically modified beans, which is a red flag in itself. Additionally, soybeans are often heavily dosed in glyphosate – a highly dangerous herbicide.
Let’s take a look at mayo specifically. If you’re just buying regular mayo at the supermarket then you can expect it to be filled to the brim with fructose corn syrup (also an active ingredient in ketchup). Although ranch doesn’t contain any fructose corn syrup, it has problems of its own. Most brands are rife with MSG – a flavor enhancer that has been classified as an excitotoxin, a compound that can lead to cell damage.
#17 – Soy Sauce
Soy sauce has become a staple in Chinese cuisine and vegetable stir fry dishes. That said, you might want to consider skipping on it next time you’re ordering takeout. With soy sauce, the risk lies not in its caloric content, but rather the extremely high levels of sodium. A single spoonful contains nearly a single gram of sodium, which is more than half of the daily recommended dose.
When implementing soy sauce in your diet it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll only use a single spoonful. Consuming high amounts of sodium will not only lead to water retention – making you feel soft and bloated – but can also lead to hypertension. Those suffering from hypertension, or high blood pressure, face a much higher risk of strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular problems.
Luckily, for those not ready to give up on soy sauce, there are multiple manufacturers that produce a low-salt variant, which contains far less sodium. That said, even the reduced-salt soy sauce is dangerous in high enough doses, so make sure to use it sparingly. Additionally, there are a number of alternatives to soy sauce out there, so experiment with a few (healthier) spices and see what livens up your meal.
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