You might not think too hard on how some foods are made, but knowing what’s inside the package might just keep you from buying them entirely! Prepare to be surprised (and possibly disgusted) by the Top 10 Foods You’ll Avoid After You Know How It’s Made — Part 5!
If you’re trying to cut butter out of your diet in favor of this plant-based alternative, you might want to think again about which of them is actually better for you. Advertised as a heart-healthy alternative to butter, margarine is made with vegetable oil. This sounds great and healthy at first, until you find out that the way they make the margarine have a consistency that imitates butter – through a lot of processing and human intervention. Seeing as vegetable oil is normally a liquid at room temperature, scientists have actually had to modify its chemical structure to keep it solidified. They do this through the process of hydrogenation, which hardens up the liquid into a consistency that more easily mimics butter. A lot of unhealthy trans fats are formed through this process, which definitely isn’t your best option if you’re trying to lose weight. Though margarine is marketed as a healthy alternative to butter most of the time, the amount of processing that goes into it makes it far less healthy in the long run than regular butter — which is, in most cases, a concentrated solid of dairy fat. If you’re trying to watch what you’re eating, you’re better off getting organic grass-fed butter from your local farm store, which has high levels of omega-3s that are actually good for your heart health.
9. Boutique Fruit Juices
Though it may seem surprising that a drink most people think is “healthy” has made it onto this list, it’s what’s inside fancy fruit juice may surprise you. Though most of these expensive juices claim to be full of fruit and healthy for you as a result, they actually contain a ton of calories that won’t really fill you up. Doctors have discussed how boutique fruit juices don’t give you any of the nutritional benefits that eating full fruits and veggies will, but will still have you ingesting a lot of calories in a short time. Eating whole fruits and veggies gives you the calories and subsequent nutrients over the span of a few minutes, while expensive fruit juice loads up the calories in the short time it takes to drink it, while simultaneously giving you none of the benefits of the fruits and vegetables that were juiced. This probably has something to do with the fact that fruit juices are squeezed; as opposed to smoothies, which are blended. Juicing a fruit gets all of its flavor out, without really releasing the “meat” of the fruit, which is what makes it filling and good for you. It’s kind of a bummer to see an item most people think to be “healthy” on this list, but the harsh reality is that drinking up your vitamins probably isn’t the best way to replace eating an apple or some grapefruit in the morning. Plus, you’ve likely spent way too much money at fancy juice boutiques, anyway.
The next time you’re at a baseball game or a cookout, you may be craving one of those big, tasty hot dogs, but hearing how they’re made may make you think twice about ordering one. Although they’re made of meat, sausages and hot dogs are low in protein, which is a nutrient you definitely want to be getting out of your meat products whenever you eat them. Despite this, they’re super high in sodium, which means you’re filling up your daily value without really reaping the benefits of eating unprocessed meat. Most hot dogs are made from scraps of meat that have been blended together, so you can never be sure what part of the animal you’re actually eating – this blend of discarded scraps is known as “pink slime” in the meat industry, which is quite possibly the most unappetizing phrase out there, especially when placed in the context of meat. A quick search on YouTube of how hot dogs are made is a surefire way to deter you from eating them for the rest of your life, in case you’re still tempted to pick one up during the game or at the grocery store. You’d probably be better off picking out a hamburger over a sausage or hot dog, seeing as most hamburgers are made from freshly ground beef – and will probably taste better as a result, anyway. Scientists have even speculated that processed meats like hot dogs or most sausages leads to a higher risk of cancer inside your digestive system. Skip the processed meat in favor of a real source of protein – your body and taste buds will thank you!
7. Ramen Noodles
Let’s face it: no one can steer completely clear of instant ramen noodles. Whether you’re hungover, in college, or both, everyone knows these quick noodles aren’t the healthiest option out there, but knowing what’s in these late-night snacks and how they’re made may deter you from buying them again. Though most variations of ramen noodles are low in calories per serving, they also lack significant nutritional value; in some cases, they’ve even been fortified with synthetic versions of nutritional elements you’d find in fruits and veggies, like iron and B vitamins. It’s packed with sodium, so eating one package of ramen noodles makes it near impossible to keep within the healthy amount of sodium recommended for one day. Not to mention, the nutritional value written on a package of noodles is for one serving, but if you’re living alone and need to fill up on a budget, you’re likely to eat the whole package yourself, which essentially doubles your intake of whatever’s written on that nutrition label. If you’re still itching to get that savory ramen flavor without ingesting all the bad stuff, look into ways of preparing traditional, fresh ramen noodles; these are a lot less bad for you and are topped with fun and healthy ingredients, like eggs, duck meat, and vegetables. The next time you’re looking for packaged noodles at the Asian grocery store, check to see if they have these ingredients for a healthy and tasty alternative.
If you grew up in the 90’s or early 2000’s, you’ve definitely had a Lunchable at least once. Though these snack boxes are packed with nostalgia, they’re also packed with tons of not-so-healthy ingredients. Most of the meat found within a Lunchable is processed; alongside other deli meats, processed meats often contain preservatives and additives that may lead to a risk of cancer and other health issues. Grains found in Lunchables are also refined, meaning that the bran and germ found organically within the grains is mechanically removed. This is done to give the grains a more desirable texture and extend their shelf life, but has also resulted in them not containing nearly as many nutrients as whole grains do. Though it might have been considered a win to find a Lunchable in your backpack while in elementary school, the lack of nutrients shouldn’t come as a surprise. The lack of veggies and inclusion of candy in what is supposed to be a well-rounded lunch for kids is a dead giveaway that these highly processed lunches should be avoided at all costs. Candies like M&Ms or Nerds pack in the sugar without offering anything nutritious, which isn’t great for growing kids. A simple sandwich with some fruit would definitely be a better option for the young ones – or yourself – than one of these processed pre-packed lunches.
You might want to think twice before bringing a dozen of these bad boys to your next work conference. Doughnuts are deep-fried and smothered in sugar, which may fuel you for a while, but the high refined sugar content will lead to a horrible crash later on in the day. As opposed to natural sugars, which will help keep you fuller for longer periods of time, refined sugars are more processed and offer spikes of energy that fade out fast. Not only that, but doughnuts are often made from GMO white flour, which is high glycemic; this means that it’ll cause a spike in your blood sugar, which definitely isn’t a great way to start your work day. Doughnuts contain lots of trans fats, too, which clog up your arteries and are said to cause cancer. Although you might think that doughnuts are heavy enough to fill you up, they’re likely to leave you hungrier than you were before you ate them. Instead of grabbing a doughnut for breakfast, try eating some granola and fruit yogurt alongside your morning coffee – you’ll stay full for longer while still satisfying your sweet tooth, which will help you start your day off on the right foot.
4. Raw Oysters
Though they’re known for their qualities as an aphrodisiac, you may want to opt for cooking your oysters instead of cracking them open and eating them raw. Though they may not be anywhere near as processed as the other items on this list, raw oysters may be carriers of food-borne illnesses. Though all raw seafood poses the threat of getting you sick, oysters in particular may run the risk of infecting you with hepatitis A and norovirus specifically. Enjoying a plate of oysters with some white wine may seem like an indulgence, but the severe symptoms that come with hepatitis A don’t really seem worth the luxurious meal. With symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain, itchiness, and jaundice being common in those infected with hepatitis A, it may be a wiser move to ask for your oysters cooked instead of ordering on the half-shell. You’ll still be able to enjoy your seafood – and the supposed lusty after-effects – but won’t have to deal with the potential consequences of consuming contaminated raw food. Raw oysters are already a polarizing food, with some people loving and others hating the way they taste, but the risk factors that come with liking this controversial seafood might just tip the scale and put oysters more in the “gross” category than the “delicious” one.
3. Regular Soda
Another unsurprising entry on this list, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that soda isn’t good for your long-term health. Though it may prove to be refreshing on a hot day, the drawbacks of drinking regular soda far outweigh the momentarily sweet taste. Regular soda often contains a lot of calories that you’ll be drinking quickly, which is basically liquefying your daily intake. The sugar found in regular soda often causes energy spikes, headaches, and even changes in your mood. This, combined with the caffeine content found in many sodas, is bound to make you feel jittery after drinking one. Diet sodas aren’t off the hook, either; most of them contain aspartame, which some say can lead to seizures, cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and other serious health issues. Though the soda commercials often show people being active while drinking their favorite sugary beverage, most people like to enjoy a soda while hanging out with friends or watching TV — in other words, living a sedentary lifestyle. The combination of sugary drinks paired with a lack of exercise has been one of the many contributing factors to the increased risk of obesity in the United States. If you’re looking for something fizzy and refreshing to drink on a hot day, or simply to enjoy while watching your favorite reality show, you’re better off getting seltzer water, which has a pleasant fruity taste without any added sugar or nasty chemicals.
Though gluten-free foods have become more and more accessible in grocery stores and restaurants, cutting out wheat may seem impossible at first, but it might actually prove beneficial if you’re looking to eat a bit healthier. Many people suffer from gluten intolerance and feel sick after consuming wheat products, with 1 in 100 people worldwide suffering from celiac disease, which is a severe gluten allergy. With symptoms like constipation, nausea and vomiting, and chronic diarrhea being some of the symptoms of celiac disease, it’s scary how something found in so many foods can have such an adverse effect on people’s bodies. However, wheat can be a good part of your diet, as long as you know which wheat products are healthy and which ones aren’t. Being a member of the grain family, wheat is also susceptible to being refined, which is a process that removes nutrients from the grain in an effort to lengthen the food’s shelf life. Whole wheat is rich in fiber, which helps with digestion, but refined wheat contains almost no fiber whatsoever. As long as your body isn’t having any bad reactions to the gluten found in wheat, whole wheat products are a healthier alternative to their refined counterparts; be sure to check labels to know which kind you’re getting!
Is it any surprise that this infamous “mystery meat” would be at the top of this list? Though meat in a can may be convenient for keeping it fresh and ready for lunches or other recipes, the amount of chemicals and preservatives found within a can of Spam will make you think twice before reaching for this item at the grocery store again. Spam is said to be made originally from pork, but it’s also made with lots of salt, bindings, and preservatives. The pork itself isn’t even a single cut of meat — it’s a combination of pork shoulder and ham that have been binded together and infused with sodium nitrite to give Spam its pink color. The fact that it can stay on your shelf for years without spoiling has made Spam popular overseas, since distributors can ship it without being afraid of the meat going bad. Though Spam may not have been your first choice in terms of lunch meat, this canned product is popular enough for production plants to make more than forty thousand cans of Spam every hour. If you really want to avoid it, be careful: Spam can show up in the most unlikely of places, with sushi being one of the most popular avenues in which it is used. It’s nearly guaranteed that fresh lunch meat will taste better on your sandwich anyway, and will be appetizing enough for you to eat it before it goes bad, which eliminates the need for Spam entirely. You’re much better off choosing fresh meat from an animal you can actually recognize than opting for a can of mysterious meat off the shelf.