Navigating the world of healthy eating and dieting can be extremely difficult. With conflicting advertisements, millions of products, and constantly changing health science, it can be very daunting to make the choice to focus on health eating. This choice is only made more difficult when supposedly healthy options are actually more harmful than consumers are expecting. The body is the most important thing we have and should be treated as such! In order to help cross off some of the foods that should be avoided, here is a list of the 10 Most Harmful Foods People Keep Eating.
10. Potato Chips
Starting off the list is one of the most obvious contenders of harmful foods that people continue to eat. Potato chips are one of the fattiest, saltiest, and least nutritious foods that one can consume. The high fat food has long been considered one of the least healthy foods. The term couch potato has been created in regards to both the lack of nutrients that the potato presents the modern day diet, and also the lazy lifestyle that potato chips entail. There’s just about no easier food to eat than a bag of chips. Simply open and enjoy. However, this ease of access is very dangerous when one considers the health deficits. The addictive nature of potato chips makes them such a delicious snack, but also makes it one of the most dangerous. Finishing an entire cake is tough, but finishing a bag of chips can be done in a single sitting. Serving sizes as displayed on the bag rarely are considered and even more rarely satisfy the hunger of the consumer as the empty calories of potato chips are unlikely to ever fill the stomach. This causes customers to continually finish bags long before expected, and more often than not, entirely solo. Although a handful of chips is great at a party, if trying to really fill themselves, avoiding a high calorie snack as light as air that offers little in terms of nutritional reward is a good place to start. It’s important to remember that even healthy potato chips are still less healthy than a whole food option. Be cautious and read the packaging!
9. Non-Maple Syrup
While something could be said for the antioxidants and nutrients found within maple syrup, the same cannot be said for artificially flavored pancake syrup. While pancake syrup may deliver a sweet and sticky topping for many breakfast foods such as waffles, French toast and pancakes, it offers basically nothing in terms of true nutritional value as it is practically a bottle of sugar. Getting maple syrup is an incredibly expensive and time consuming process. For this reason, most pancake syrups on grocery store shelves contain little to no actual maple. Instead, sugars and corn syrups are used with flavorings to create a similar product. Maple syrup, although also incredibly high in sugar, does offer up some positive side effects if it is used as a sweetener – when compared to traditional white sugar. Unfortunately, many pancake syrups base their recipes off of white sugars, removing any possibility for nutritional gain. It’s important to recognize the difference if one is seriously considering the health implications. An easy way to tell the difference is by price and appearance. Pure maple syrup is typically much more expensive than pancake syrups. Another trick is that pure syrup often comes in glass bottles in comparison to the plastic ones of the mass produced pancake syrups. Either way, with an ingredient this sweet, try to stick to the purest form possible and remember to keep it as a breakfast treat, not a breakfast staple.
One of the odd things about margarine being on this list is that it is based off of a healthy eating platform. Advertisements for years have displayed that margarine is equal and similar in taste to butter, all while offering fewer health deficits. People typically use margarine while trying to follow healthy eating habits. But as research increases, it appears that margarine may be doing more harm than good. The reason for such a confusing reputation? Although many of these margarine brands aim to increase cardiac health, in reality the trans fats involved are absolutely detrimental to a healthy diet. These artificial trans fats are known to immediately contribute to some of the worst types of heart disease on the planet. This has been proven through multitudes of studies comparing the benefits and costs between butter and margarine. In reality, both butter and margarine are also extremely high calorie foods meaning that adding either to a dish is able to reduce the overall nutritional value. Margarine is a great cooking ingredient, but olive oil and butter both offer up more pure alternatives of fat. So perhaps if possible, just avoid adding the tasty spread to breakfast toast and opt for some peanut butter, cheese, or tomatoes instead where the calories are worth the cost!
7. Soup Cans
There’s nothing better than a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup when someone is feeling less than their best. Whether it’s the flu, a common cold or just a mental health day at home, typically the best type of soup to make when feeling sick is also going to be the easiest. Powdered soups are a good option, but the fastest and arguably the tastiest way to enjoy a hot bowl of soup is heated up on the stove out of the can. Unfortunately this soup that is supposed to help people feel their best, may actually be one of the worst foods someone can eat. What’s the culprit ingredient in these seemingly simple soups? Salt. While these meals are typically filled with flavor, that taste typically derives from huge quantities of sodium. Although reduced sodium options are available, they too are still typically high in salt content. There is evidence the sodium content may help gain energy during times of illness, however it should be avoided on a regular basis as it can lead to potentially serious health issues later in life. The good news is, soup is one of the absolute easiest recipes to create at home. Thousands can be found and recreated with just the click of a button and a good stock.
6. Energy Drinks
The power of energy drinks is mind-boggling. To be taken from such a mental and physical low to such a high level of energy with just one beverage is incredible. For those who prefer to avoid coffee, it can be one of the quickest ways for an energy boost. As many may assume, the power that stems from energy drinks is derived from caffeine. Although this is a normal compound that appears in sodas and coffees, the levels in which energy drinks incorporate caffeine means that it can have upwards of 5 times the caffeine levels of a regular serving of soda. An energy drink every so often is unlikely to cause long term damage, but consumed without caution and in excess, it can cause unwanted side effects. Even though it directly states on the bottle not to consume with alcohol and how they are not intended for children, it seems that young adults – particularly party drinkers – often are extremely dangerous with energy drinks. Not following the rules with energy drinks, or consuming them in mass quantities, can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, anxiety, addiction, diabetes and more. Maybe stay away from these powerful elixirs and stick to something a little more natural for the morning boost instead, while saving these for the absolute most dire of exhaustive situations.
5. Fruit Juice
Besides tea and coffee, fruit juice is easily one of the most popular breakfast drinks. A glass of orange juice is one of the most common items on any breakfast table, and although it seems like a healthy addition, fruit juices are one of the most harmful things that can be put into the body. This may seem incredibly surprising to many people. How could fruit possibly be unhealthy? Unfortunately, the sad fact is that the process that turns fruit, a highly sugary food, into juice practically ruins any redeeming nutritional qualities. Fiber is one of fruits best qualities and the process of juicing fruit often involves removing the pulp entirely – save certain orange juices and more expensive juice options. What is left is extremely sugary juice that is often mixed with additional sugars and preservatives. In the end, many juices are no better than a can of soda. The good news is that limiting juice intake and making healthy juice choices still allows for juice to remain in a nutritious diet. Cranberry, red grape, and pomegranate are a few of the juices that provide enough nutrients to offset the sugar intake. And for all those morning orange juice fans? The good news is that a small glass of OJ is definitely worth the sugar for the Vitamin C return. Juice can still be a healthy treat, just avoid anything that says “cocktail” or does not offer up a truly nutritional trade off.
4. Deli Meats
Cold cut fans beware! The lunch meat that is being used to fill lunchboxes and afternoon picnics may not be as safe as we once thought. In fact, it may be something that humans should avoid consuming all together. What may come as a shock to many is that many processed meats, including various deli meats, are currently listed as a Class 1 carcinogen. This means that it is highly associated with increased cancer risks and has been proven through many studies. It means that eating processed meat has been directly linked to an increase in cancer potential. People may argue that “everything causes cancer” in the 21st century, but when there is this much solid evidence, as in the case of deli meats, it may be advisable to remove it from thousands of children’s and adults daily lunches. People should also encourage the spread of information regarding the potential harmful side effects that are associated with the process of creating cold cuts. Meat in general is a meal option that should be carefully considered before consumption as more information is learned regarding its effects on the body, but cold cuts are particularly harmful and should be avoided in general. Unfortunately for all the campers and baseball game lovers out there, this means hot dogs too!
3. White Bread
There’s nothing that beats a sandwich made with white bread. That soft fluffy bread wrapped around melty cheese or peanut butter is hard to beat. Unfortunately, as with the other members of this list, the negative health consequences of white bread make it a food that should be left out of the diet as often as possible. The issues with white bread is focused around the process of production. In order to create that smooth delicious taste of white bread, bran and germ are separated and discarded leaving only the soft, bleached, endosperm. This is then processed into the fluffy white bread that so many love. Unfortunately, what makes whole wheat bread incredibly healthy is the fiber involved within. When the bran and germ are removed, the bread almost immediately becomes stripped of important nutrients that the body needs. The white bread, although a delicious treat, converts quickly into sugars. This additional sugar is what can cause such negative health side effects from white bread. When such unhealthy food is being eaten at any meal time and sometimes more than once a day, the body is likely to suffer.
2. Canned Tuna
Canned tuna has been a longtime staple in the healthy home cupboard. Packed full of protein and vitamins in the most pure form, tuna salads, tuna melts and tuna with crackers have remained perfect lunch meals for decades. Unfortunately, tuna’s long-time track record for healthy eating has been tarnished in recent years and there is one major culprit, mercury. Mercury levels in the oceans have been rising steadily because of pollution. The oceans have suffered due to industrial production and mercury is just one of the negative effects. As mercury makes its way up the food chain, when small fish are eaten by bigger ones, it’s toxicity increases. By the time that mercury reaches the tuna for human consumption, the mercury levels are astronomically high and can have serious negative health effects for the consumer. This can be particularly damaging to expectant mothers where the mercury travels again, being passed from mother to baby and growing increasingly toxic once again. Although in small doses the mother can handle the mercury, a delicate baby is highly at risk. High mercury rates are linked to high rates of depression, anxiety, heart and brain disease. Unfortunately, a once amazingly healthy food now has to be carefully considered before consumed!
1. Diet Soda
The tasty syrup of classic soda brands is well known to be high in sugar. Sweet, sugary liquid is a craving innate not only in human nature, but in a great deal of the animal kingdom. Although many fight hard to stay away from it, the sugar in soda is a natural process of addiction. As we began to become more knowledgeable regarding the effects of foods on the body over the last 100 years, the most popular and sometimes century old brands of soda were realizing that their beverages may not be the best product for a consumer attempting to cut sugar. In the 1980’s and 90’s this problem was solved with the introduction of diet soda options. While the soda is able to advertise zero calories and zero sugar by removing the sugar from the recipe, this step also removes the flavor. In order to regain that flavor, artificial sweeteners like aspartame are added. What makes diet soda so unhealthy are these artificial sweeteners. To begin, the negative side effects associated with these sweeteners are displayed in extremely high numbers. Multiple studies have linked diet soda consumption with an increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and more. Many people believe that they are making a healthy choice when switching from regular to diet soda, but don’t let the name fool you! Diet sodas may have no sugar, but that does not mean that they are now good for you!