Every day we are bombarded with lists of new foods to eat and the latest fad diets. Want to be as strong as a caveman? Go paleo. Does the thought of hurting animals bother you? Go vegan. Feeling bloated? Go gluten free.
While these diets all exist for their own reasons, it’s important to realize many share some similar points. Knowing what you should eat is good, but knowing what you shouldn’t eat is just as important.
That said, there is some controversy over a number of foods. For sanity’s sake, we’ve decided to focus on foods we can universally agree are just never good for you.
There's another word we hear often: processed. It means different things to different people, but generally, processed foods are:
– Highly divorced from their natural source
– Chemically treated or heat treated
– Reconstituted after being separated
– More frequently found outside the horseshoe edge of the grocery store
Sugar is by far one of the worst culprits. It has many names: sugar, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose; the list could go on forever. Generally speaking, any free form of sugar is something you should avoid; that includes nearly all syrups and table sugars (even organic and brown sugars are still ultimately just sugar).
Real honey and maple syrup are some of the best alternatives but should still be consumed in moderation.
If you thought you could get away with not eating sugar by substituting artificial alternatives such as aspartame, sorry. Neotame, saccharin and sucralose are also major offenders, with the former often not even labeled.
A good rule of thumb is to beware of anything that claims to be “diet” or “sugar free.”
If ever a product has skirted the truth with labeling, vegetable oil is it. What ultimately amounts to oil forcibly and chemically extracted from rapeseed and soybeans is a concoction you wouldn’t even be able to stomach if it weren’t treated and deodorized before being sent off. Margarine, for instance, must be colored because it looks disgusting.
Plus, the ratio of omega-6 oils to omega-3 oils is off the charts, and numerous studies on human health suggest that such high ratios likely contribute to poor heart health, high cholesterol and general malaise.
If you’re going to use oil, stick with coconut oil or virgin olive oil. Pastured animal oils can also work but aren’t quite as good as the former choices.
Some of the least healthy additions to our diets include products made from corn (yes, this is a grain, not a vegetable), wheat and other bleached flours. That doesn’t mean just bread; many pastries and other baked goods also contain bleached grains virtually devoid of any natural nutrients.
Stick with whole grains.The enriching process in bleached foods has little value compared to actual food because many added vitamins are not as bioavailable.
As pretty as they might make food look, food coloring agents (those with numbers such as Yellow #6) have absolutely no nutritional value and have been shown to be harmful to smaller animals. Exactly how bad they are from humans is still being debated, but they definitely aren’t doing you any favors.
Eliminating soda might be hard because it’s a refreshing drink, but at the end of the day, it’s basically just a can of liquid sugar. Your average 12-ounce can of soda contains as much as 40 grams of sugar and virtually no nutritional content.
The natural and organic varieties don’t fare much better. True, they don’t contain artificial flavors or harmful preservatives, but they’re still just sugar water.
A few brands now offer stevia-flavored sodas that are better, but just like their sugary brothers, they don’t often contain any valuable minerals or vitamins.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Despite tasting amazing, the infamous MSG is an additive that should be avoided. Glutamate itself is naturally occurring in many foods, but the high concentrations found in MSG extract have been found to be unhealthy and—you guessed it—have no real contribution in terms of nutrients.
Please note this list is not to be considered exhaustive; many foods on our shelves and in restaurants are extraordinarily unhealthy and should be avoided. If you want to stay healthy, do your research.Learn where your food comes from, how it’s made and what to avoid.
Stay healthy! If you have any questions or concerns, leave a comment below.
About the Author: Diamond is a health enthusiast and blogger for eHealth Informer. Much of her time is spent cooking and looking for healthy ingredients, an increasingly difficult task in an industrialized world.
This infographic "9 Unhealthy Foods to Avoid" uncovers shocking facts about unhealthy foods found in your local grocery stores, and why you should absolutely keep away from them. Use the embed code to share it on your website.