All things in moderation, so the saying goes. With some food, though, the old adage doesn’t ring true. The following foods are so damaging to our health that complete avoidance would be a much better idea!
1. Margarine: Once thought to be healthier than butter, margarine actually is full of trans fat, coating your arteries and upping your cholesterol. You’re far better off sticking with real butter in moderation.
2. Hot dogs and other processed sandwich meats: These lower quality cuts of meat are full of nitrites, chemical flavorings, dyes, and way too much sodium. Look for nitrite-free sausages and make your own sandwich meat by cooking some chicken or turkey and slicing thinly. Read what the World Health Organization says about processed meats and their link to cancer.
3. Processed “cheese product”: You have seen it in slices wrapped in plastic or sprayable in cans; this fake food is not even allowed to be labeled as cheese. If you’re craving nachos, you can create your own cheese sauce using real cheese, but stay far away from what we like to call “plastic cheese.”
>> Recipe: Easy Peasy Cheese Sauce
4. Sugary sodas: Why drink empty calories? Sugary sodas provide a lot of high fructose corn syrup with no nutritional value. Try a fruit-infused water to add a splash of fresh flavor you can feel good about.
5. French fries: When McDonald’s released the ingredients in their French fries, people were surprised to find out there were 17 on the list. Instead try our crunchy and delicious Green Bean Fries!
6. Fast food salads: At least you’re not ordering a burger, right? Wrong. Some fast food salads pack in more calories and fat than a burger and fries with all the extra toppings and fatty dressings. Do your research before assuming that the healthy menu options live up to their name. An even better option is to make your own salad instead and choose a vinegar-based dressing like our Italian Chopped Salad with House Dressing.
7. Artificial sweeteners: These guys are much sweeter than regular sugar, leading to increased sugar cravings. They also have links to neurological problems and cancer. Try some fruit to satisfy that sweet craving! Natural sweeteners like honey or real maple syrup are also great alternatives, in moderation, of course. Learn more about artificial sweeteners here.
8. Microwave popcorn: Included in the imitation butter flavor is PFOA, which has been linked to certain cancers and infertility. It’s safer (and cheaper!) to make your own microwave popcorn in a brown lunch bag and then use a touch of real butter. Check out these six healthy popcorn toppings!
>> Thought popcorn was surprising? Check out 20 Foods You Never Knew Were Bad For You.
9. Light yogurt: When all the fat is removed, something needs to be added back in order to make the yogurt taste good again. That means added sugar, aspartame and many other highly processed ingredients. Try adding fruit and honey to plain Greek yogurt for a delicious, healthier snack.
10. Multi-grain bread: This is a tricky one. It sounds and looks healthy, but it’s not. Multi-grain bread is white bread with some grains thrown in. As you may know, white bread lacks nutrients and contains enriched flour. What you want is whole wheat bread (whole wheat should be the first ingredient listed).