When you are trying to be healthy, sometimes knowing what foods are bad for you is as important as knowing which foods you should be eating. While there are, sadly, a wide range of unhealthy foods out there, some stand out from the crowd in terms of the risks they pose if eaten. Below are ten foods you should never, ever eat if you truly want to be healthy.
Because it is based on vegetable rather than animal products, margarine has a completely undeserved reputation for being “light” or “healthy” and many people will choose this over butter. The problem? The vegetable oils that make up many margarines have been hydrogenated so that they will stay solid at room temperature – and this means that they are rich in trans fats. Trans fats are dangerous because they can lead to a build-up of bad cholesterol in the arteries – and this increases your risk for heart attacks and strokes.
2. Processed Meats
Hot dogs on the fourth of July or a ham and Swiss sandwich are about as American as it gets. But there is a reason why they are on this list of foods that are bad for you. Processed meats might taste incredibly good, but they are not exactly good for you! As a matter of fact, a study came out just this year which linked an increased or high consumption of processed meats with an increased risk for colon cancer. Unfortunately, this includes not only hot dogs and ham, but deli meats, sausage, bacon and other processed products.
3. Soft Drinks
After water, soft drinks (as a group) remain the most popular beverage in the United States. But the Coca Cola generation should beware: the high amounts of sugar (usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup) in these drinks can spell trouble. These beverages raise the levels of blood sugar in the body and over time, this can mean problems like insulin resistance, which can eventually turn into full-blown diabetes. And they won’t help your waistline, either.
4. Artificial Sweeteners
Nearly every product labeled “diet”, “light” or “sugar free” is going to have some form of artificial sweetener such as sucralose or aspartame. Sadly, it is often people who are trying to reach their weight loss goals who buy such products – but the truth is that these sweeteners have been linked to increased blood sugars and to even more serious problems like an increased risk for diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. It is better to use small amounts of regular sugar – or better yet, cut the sugar out altogether.
5. Deep-Fried Foods
Deep-fried foods like French fries, onions rings and the like are also American classics – what diner would be the same without them? But unfortunately, though they taste delicious, they are pretty hard on your body. They have tons of saturated fat because of the way they are prepared which can lead to problems with heart disease as well as obesity and diabetes to boot.
6. Microwave Popcorn
Families all over America curl up on the couch for movie night with microwave popcorn. But this, too, is an unhealthy habit. True, many companies offer “light” versions of this treat with less fat or sodium, but that is not the real problem. The problem is actually in the lining of the popcorn bag itself. It contains a chemical called perfluoroctanic acid (PFOA) which has been associated with thyroid gland disorders, cancer and lung disease.
7. Canned Foods
Canned foods – whether it’s tomato soup, beans, or vegetables – are another staple of the American diet and are incredibly convenient. However, the linings of these cans contain a compound called Bisphenol A, or BPA, which leaches into these canned food products. BPA is suspected of interfering with hormone levels and causing problems like early puberty and obesity.
8. Instant Noodles
Ramen noodles are the traditional go-to food of college students across the country, but they don’t exactly make for a healthy meal. They are loaded with calories while provide very few nutrients and are over-the-top high in sodium. Sodium diets are linked to increased blood pressure, which in turn is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. Consumption of these noodles have been linked to increased cholesterol and other health problems as well.
9. White Bread
Who doesn’t remember Wonder Bread sandwiches in their packed lunch every day when they were in school? Sadly, white bread, too, has been exposed for the danger that it is. Because the grain white bread is made from has been stripped of its germ and bran, it has almost no nutrients on its own – these have to be added artificially! It has also been linked to issues like high blood sugar, increased weight and an increased chance for developing diabetes.
10. Soy Products
Like margarine, soy products have a reputation for being healthy – and are a staple in the diets of many vegetarians, vegans and health-conscious people. However, they have compounds called isoflavones which mimic the human hormone estrogen and which can cause issues with fertility and reproduction, puberty and childhood growth and development.
Now you know the foods that are bad for you. Yes, many of these foods are considered to be American classics – but the health risks involved are just not worth adding them to your diet. Look, instead, for healthy alternatives to these favorites, such as organic, grass-fed butter instead of margarine or whole grain bread instead of white. These foods are every bit as delicious and are much better for your body.