There is one important thing we need to know: there is no such thing as “good foods” or “bad foods”. Foods are just foods. However, how we choose to prepare them, and if and how we choose to eat them undoubtedly has an impact on our health.
In other words, foods are not at fault, but what we choose to eat on a daily basis can contribute to good health or bad health. Eating so-called “junk food” every so often will likely not have an impact on your health. But there is plenty of evidence to show how eating certain foods often, or even as a staple in your diet, can have disastrous results for your health.
There are plenty of foods you should try to avoid, but here is a list of 10 foods that are on the top of the list.
1. Sodas and Pops
You can add vitamins or make them with “natural flavors” but that still doesn’t take away the fact that sodas and pops are one of the biggest culprits against human health in the western diet. Sodas are full of sugar and additives. Water is always the best option when it comes to beverages. Add lemon for a different taste and added benefits. If you want something a little more flavorful sugar-free iced tea is also a good substitute for soda.
2. Instant Noodle Soups
Instant noodle soups are an easy meal or great late-night dorm snack. Unfortunately, what makes it so yummy is also what can damage your health. They are high in sodium and additives. Instead of instant noodle soups like Ramen, try homemade or store bought broths with your choice of a healthy noodles such as Soba.
3. White Bread
Some people cannot imagine their life without white bread. Unfortunately, the processes used to make white bread takes all the good stuff out of wheat, like fiber. White bread is high in refined carbohydrates, additives and sometimes sugar. A good alternative to white bread is whole grain bread.
4. Shortening and Margarine
Shortening and margarine is the reason hydrogenation was invented. Vegetable oil-based solid fats were cheaper and had a longer shelf life than butter. Unfortunately, some unexpected health hazards came along with it. Some brands of shortening and margarine are high in trans fats, and additives. Olive oil and flaxseed oil are good healthy alternatives that you can use.
5. Sugary Cereal
Even those labelled “whole grain” have several of the ingredients that, when eaten regularly, can negatively affect your health. Most sugary cereals are marketed to children and are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and additives. Instead of these sugary cereals, try high-fiber and organic cereals that will make you feel fuller and give you positive health benefits.
6. Chips and French Fries
We all know most brands of chips and French fries just aren’t something you should be eating every day. They are deep fried and made with tons of salt. They are high in sodium, additives, and saturated or trans fat. Baked kale chips or sweet potato fries are healthier options.
7. Packaged Baked Goods
These are the foods you’ll find at convenience stores when you are feeling a sugar craving coming on. In addition to all the stuff fresh pastries are made with, packaged baked goods have tons of additives to keep them preserved for months on end. They have high amounts of additives, but are also full of saturated fats, trans fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Try whole grain baked goods or high-fiber homemade baked goods when you are in the mood for something sweet.
8. Nectar and Most Fruit Juices
There is a common misconception that fruit juices are healthy. While there are some exceptions (like cherry juice, for example), most fruit juices and nectar contain tons of sugar without fiber, which helps to slow absorption. You especially want to keep away from artificial fruit juices. Nectar and most fruit juices are high in fructose (sugar found in fruits) and additives.
9. Flavored Yogurt
Natural yogurt is full of probiotics and is a good source of protein, but flavored yogurt, including non-fat flavored yogurt, is full of sugar and additives.
10. Processed Meats
Processed meat is a known carcinogen. They include hot dogs, bacon, sausages, commercial beef patties, and others. Processed meat is full of sodium, additives, and trans fat. Plant-based proteins, and lean meats like chicken and fish are perfect substitutes.
The Culprits: What do These 10 Foods Have in Common?
They are high in at least one of the following ingredients:
Sugar and/or Refined Carbohydrates
Sugar and refined carbohydrates are very easy for your body to absorb and make available as glucose in the body. While our cells love and need glucose for doing what they need to do, a heavy surge of glucose from foods and drinks can do two things: 1) they raise your blood sugar significantly, which, if it happens often, can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and, 2) they often deliver more calories than we need, leading to overweight and obesity.
Most of the high-sugar and refined carbohydrate foods don’t provide vitamins and minerals making them what are called “empty calories”.
Sodium comes from different forms of salt, and it is often found in savory packaged foods. In addition to boosting flavor, sodium also helps to preserve foods, which is why it is found so often in high quantities in processed and packaged foods. Diets high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Artificial trans fat is one of the worst inventions of the food industry. Trans fat results from when vegetable oils undergo a chemical process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation makes vegetable oils turn solid at room temperature, which opens the door for the food industry to use them instead of butter and other animal fats.
Trans fat is known to increase your risk of a range of health issues, including heart disease, cognitive decline, and some types of cancer. There is so much evidence building up against trans fats that most countries have banned them from foods. Even so, make sure to check the ingredient label for ingredients with the word “hydrogenated” in them.
Saturated fat usually comes from animal foods, and when eating in significant quantities, it can lead to heart disease, high cholesterol and triglycerides, and some types of cancer. It is usually found in highest quantities in animal foods, but it can also be found as an ingredient in fast and fried foods.
There are hundreds of different types of artificial additives, and most of them are safe to consume, according to the FDA. Some people are sensitive to artificial additives, like people with MSG sensitivities, people with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, and people with asthma. However, foods with significant amounts of artificial additives tend to be low in nutrients and high in the other elements mentioned above.
There are many foods that we should avoid eating, no matter how yummy they might be. Some of the ingredients can increase your risk of serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer. The good news is, there are plenty of alternatives that you can eat when cravings hit, like those suggested in this article.