Generally speaking, you probably know which foods are considered to be healthy, and which not. However, there are also some foods which you don’t probably think are bad for your health, when they actually are.
Here’s a list of unhealthy foods that are not good for your health, but you probably don’t know it.
Read the explanation after each food to understand why it’s dangerous for your health.
A List of Unhealthy Foods We Should Never Eat
1. Canned Tomatoes
A lot of popular brands of canned foods, including canned tomatoes, contain the toxic chemical known as BPA. This chemical is associated with neurological effects, reproductive abnormalities, diabetes, increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, and other serious diseases. Consumer Reports tested servings of different canned food, and they discovered that only a few of them meet the safety limits for daily exposure of BPA in kids.
Tomatoes are one of the many foods with high acidity level. This characteristic (high acidity) causes BPA leach into the food you eat. Therefore, it’s best to consume raw fruits and veggies instead of canned varieties. As an alternative, use foods canned in glass containers, especially when it comes to tomatoes and other acidic foods.
2. Processed Meats
Processed deli meats such as ham, salami, and roast beef are usually produced from livestock raised in CAFOs. In other words, farmers give antibiotics, growth hormones, and other veterinary drugs to animals while raising them in deplorable conditions. What’s more, the livestock is loaded with sodium nitrate (an antimicrobial agent and a common preservative) as well as different dyes and flavorings.
Your body can convert nitrites into the highly cancer-causing nitrosamines. According to one research, nitrites increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, and cholesterol. Moreover, the content of processed deli meats also include the following cancer-promoting chemicals:
- HCAs (Heterocyclic Amines). Cooking meats and other foods at a high temperature cause a formation of these dangerous compounds. One research proves the link between processed meats and increased chances of developing breast, colon, and stomach cancer.
- PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Smoking processed meat causes a formation of PAHs. These chemicals are also created when grilling. So, when there’s excess smoke from the fat dripping on the heat source, the meat gets contaminated with these cancer-causing chemicals through the smoke that surrounds it.
- AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products). Cooking food at a high temperature, such as sterilizing or pasteurizing, stimulates the formation of these chemicals. Accumulation of AGEs in your body can result in inflammation, oxidative stress and increased risk of diabetes, heart and kidney disease.
In 2011, a group of researchers reviewed over 7,000 clinical studies to find out the link between diet and cancer. They confirmed the already known fact that processed meats raise the chances of developing cancer, particularly bowel cancer. Also, they say there’s no safe amount of processed meat to eat. As a conclusion, replace the deli meats with wild caught salmon or organic, grass-fed meats.
Margarine contains numerous unhealthy compounds and butter impostors. Some of them are:
- Trans fats. You can find these unnatural fats in spreads, margarine, and shortenings. Trans fats are created during the hydrogenation process when liquid vegetable oils convert into solid fats. They contribute to bone problems, cancer, heart disease, skin disease, and hormonal imbalance. Also, they increase the risk of difficulties in pregnancy and lactation, as well as infertility. When it comes to the offspring, they can cause low birth weight, learning disabilities and growth problems.
- Free radicals. They are created during the industrial processing of vegetable oils which requires high temperatures. Free radicals are the cause of many serious diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
- Emulsifiers and preservatives. Margarine and spreads contain a lot of different preservatives and emulsifiers with a questionable safety.
- Hexane and other solvents. These chemicals can be toxic when used in the extraction process.
Butter made from grass-fed cows contains high amounts of the beneficial conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). The Journal of Nutrition published a study which says this substance can help prevent cancer.
4. Vegetable Oils
Foods made with heated vegetable oils are one of the worst destructive foods you can find. Remember, vegetable oils are not healthy as you may think they are. The reason for this is because they are highly processed, so when consumed in large amounts, they can cause omega-3 to omega-6 ratio imbalance. The ideal ratio would be 1:1.
Unfortunately, most Americans do consume large amounts of heated vegetable oils. However, when you cook with some of these oils, you risk doing a heat-induced damage. Make sure you use stable oils which are resistant to high temperature. Otherwise, the oils can oxidize and damage your health in many ways, such as turning your HDL into LDL cholesterol. Cooking with corn, canola, soy, corn oil, and other polyunsaturated vegetable oils introduce oxidized cholesterol into your system.
Oxygen and heating turn the oil rancid, leading to cardiovascular disease. Hydrogenation of these oils, on the other hand, introduces trans-fats which raise the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and other chronic diseases.
So what’s the best oil to cook with?
All things considered, the best oil to cook with is coconut oil. This oil is almost an entirely saturated fat. In other words, it’s the least susceptible oil to heat damage. What’s more, it is also the most beneficial fat to the human’s body. Even though olive oil is one of the healthiest oils for eating, it’s not recommended for cooking as heat can easily damage it. It’s best to use it in salads.
5. Microwave Popcorn
The chemicals used to prevent grease from leaking through fast-food wrappers are PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), both known as perfluoroalkyls. Unfortunately, we ingest them through our food, thus contaminating out blood. For instance, you can find high levels of PFOA in microwave popcorn bags. When exposed to heating, these dangerous chemicals leach onto the popcorn.
PFOS and PFOA belong to the chemicals known as “gender-bending” substances. They can affect the sex hormones and disrupt the endocrine system. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these chemicals are “likely carcinogenic.” Moreover, the agency says PFOA increases the risk of developmental and reproductive damage. Furthermore, scientists connect different PFCs to a myriad of other health problems, including the following:
Health Risks of PFCs:
- Infertility. The journal Human Reproduction published a study which says PFOS and PFOA significantly increase the risk of infertility. To be more specific, they link PFQA with 60-154% increased risk of infertility.
- Thyroid disease. One study discovered that PFOA can distort the function of the thyroid gland. People with the highest concentration of this chemical had 50% higher risk to develop a thyroid disease, as opposed to those with lowest concentrations. This gland plays a huge role in your overall health and function of each of your cell, tissue, and organ. If you don’t treat your thyroid disease on time, it can lead to infertility, heart disease, osteoporosis, and muscle weakness.
- Cancer. Researchers connected PFOA with liver, pancreatic, mammary gland, and testicle tumor in animals. What’s more, they say this chemical increases the risk of developing prostate cancer in PFOA plant employees.
- Immune System Problems. Few Swedish researchers claim PFCs have a negative impact on our immune system. The Environmental Working Group reported that PFOA reduces spleen and thymus immune cell subpopulations, causing immunosuppression.
- Higher cholesterol levels. The Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicinepublished a 2010 study which states kids and teens with higher levels of PFOA have higher LDL and total cholesterol levels. On the other hand, increased levels of PFOS were linked to increased levels of both, LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol.
Besides the wrappers of fast food, foods sold in grease-proof food packaging and non-stick cookware are also containing these toxic compounds. Therefore, try to avoid these products.
6. Fresh Produce Like Non-Organic Potatoes Known for High Pesticide Contamination
According to the USDA organic rules, synthetic agricultural chemicals are not permissible. Therefore, it’s best to consume only organic vegetables and fruits. However, not all conventionally grown vegetables and fruits receive the same levels of pesticide load.
Here are the top 15 vegetables and fruits found to have the highest levels of pesticide load, according to the 2013 EWG guide. This means you should aim to purchase or grow them organically.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Summer squash
- Collard greens
On the other hand, here are the foods which have the lowest level of pesticide residue:
- Sweet corn (non-GMO Cantaloupe)
- Sweet potatoes
- Papayas (non-GMO. Most papaya coming from Hawaii is GMO)
- Sweet peas (frozen)
7. Table Salt
Although we can’t live without salt, this doesn’t refer to the common table salt and the one found in processed foods. While the natural salt is beneficial to our body, the table salt is certainly not.
- Sodium chloride takes 98% of table salt. The rest of the content is a little added iodine and some moisture absorbents and other human-made chemicals like the harmful aluminosilicate and ferrocyanide. In some parts of the world, table salt manufacturers add fluoride in their produce.
- On the contrary, sodium chloride in natural salt takes about 84% of its content. The rest 16% are trace minerals like phosphorus, silicon, vanadium, and other naturally occurring minerals.
We recommend using the all-natural Himalayan salt. 85% of its content is sodium chloride, while the other 15 consists of 84 trace minerals from world’s ancient seas. Our body needs unrefined natural salt for an optimal function of many biological processes, such as:
- Transporting nutrients into and out of the body’s cells
- Being a huge part of your lymphatic fluid, blood plasma, amniotic fluid, and extracellular fluid
- Boosting the brain’s glial cells, responsible for long-term planning and creative thinking
- Regulating and maintaining the blood pressure
- Communication between your brain and muscles
Moreover, don’t forget your diet’s sodium to potassium ratio. An imbalance can lead to high blood pressure, memory decline, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, etc. So, to prevent this, avoid consuming processed foods which are high in sodium and low in potassium. Your diet should consist of whole, organically grown foods for higher levels of potassium in regards to sodium, which will help maintain an optimal sodium to potassium ratio.
8. Artificial Sweeteners
Many researchers proved that artificial sweeteners like aspartame could increase your carbohydrate cravings, stimulate your appetite as well as weight gain and fat storage. A recent study showed that aspartame and saccharin could increase rats’ weight even more than sugar.
The main ingredients of aspartame are phenylalanine and aspartic acid. The sweetness of phenylalanine comes from the methyl group which in turn creates methanol.
Even though majority think aspartame is harmless as vegetables and fruits also contain methanol, it is not exactly true. The methanol in fruits and vegetables is firmly bound to pectin, which enables it to pass safely through the digestive tract. On the other hand, the methanol in aspartame is not bonded to anything which can help remove it from the body.
The alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme in your brain and bone marrow converts the methanol into formaldehyde which can cause huge problems in your DNA and sensitive proteins. However, humans are the only living creatures that don’t have a protective mechanism which enables methanol to be broken down into a non-toxic formic acid.
9. Unfermented Soy Products Like Soy Protein Isolate
A little-known fact about soy is that 90-95% of soybeans grown in the United States are GE (genetically engineered), later used in the production of soy protein isolate. These GE soybeans are created to withstand otherwise lethal doses of herbicide, or “Roundup ready.”
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide which can disrupt the hormonal balance in the reproductive system of females. Moreover, it has toxic effects on the placenta, so it can damage or even destroy it. This can cause birth defects or miscarriage.
The harmful mechanism of glyphosate was recently discovered, revealing how it can damage the cellular function and cause autism and other modern diseases. You can find soy protein isolate in meal replacement shakes, breakfast cereals, protein bars, soups and sauces, bottled fruit drinks, baked goods, meat analogs, and some dietary supplements.
It’s super important to read the labels of all products, even if you don’t use soymilk or tofu. This is because soy additives can be named in many different ways, so you might end up with some GE soy-based product without even knowing. For instance, it can be called “natural flavor”, “Bouillon”, and “textured plant protein”. To learn more, check out Dr. Kaayla Daniel’s website.
Along with soy protein isolate, it’s best to avoid all unfermented soy products. Numerous studies claim unfermented soy is related to digestive distress, malnutrition, thyroid dysfunction, immune-system breakdown, reproductive disorders and infertility, cognitive decline, and even heart disease and cancer.
Properly fermented organic soy is the only soy product good for consumption. The long fermentation process reduces the levels of phytate and all harmful properties of soybeans, making their beneficial effects available to your digestive system.
How to Choose Healthy Food
Here are the things to look at when considering to consume high-quality, healthy foods:
- Organic and some non-organic foods which are grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides
- Non-GMO foods
- No added antibiotics, growth hormones, and other drugs
- No preservatives or anything else artificial
- Fresh foods (fresh conventional produce is a better choice than wilted organic produce)
- Not grown in a factory farm
- Produced from animals with free-range access to the outdoors and fed with proper, native diet as oppose to a combo of animal byproducts and grains