Seven Foods That Could Seriously Damage Your Health

Most chronic conditions can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle. This includes a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Eating healthy foods isn’t always easy or at hand.

There are many tempting products we simply can’t resist. It’s OK to have them every now and then. But when fatty or sugary food becomes part of your daily routine, you should seriously consider changing this habit. Here are seven common foods you should eliminate from your diet because they can cause health damage.

1. French fries

French fries are one of the most popular and, let’s face it, tasty foods in the world. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the unhealthiest foods we frequently order. Normally, potatoes are a healthy food because they contain lots of essential nutrients: potassium, vitamin C, fiber.

bad foods

Processed foods, not a healthy choice; image source: depositphotos.com

The problem is how you prepare them. If you choose to boil them, leaving their skin on, the result is a healthy, nutritious meal. When you fry them, things change radically. Frying them means adding lots of oil and tons of salt. The other downside to this preparation method is that you will remove the potato’s skin which is where it keeps most of its nutrients.

One of the health issues related to this food is that French fries contain high levels of sodium. A medium French fries dish contains an average of 245 mg of salt. This makes up for 10% of the amount you should eat in a day and think about it, the fries are not the only dish you will be tempted to put salt on. 

While sodium is important because it regulates the fluids in our body, excessive amounts are dangerous. Too much salt can damage your heart, brain or bone’s health. Salt is a necessary ingredient, but it increases blood pressure. It may also cause blood thinning and cognitive impairment in sedentary people.

Fries are also unhealthy because they literally get soaked in oil while you fry them. This leads to a dish which is rich in fats and, unfortunately, we are talking about the most dangerous ones: trans fats. We will deal with this element a little bit later.

For now, let’s conclude by saying that French fries will inevitably add those extra kilos around your waist and put your heart at risk. Besides, when you order this food, you usually tend to add ‘enhancers’ like ketchup and mayonnaise which are also loaded with calories and bring zero nutritional value.

2. Microwave Popcorn

Do you usually take a popcorn bowl together with the evening movie? This can be a healthy snack, but only when you prepare it traditionally and not in the microwave. 

Many popcorn bags you prepare in the microwave contain perfluorooctanoic. This substance is also found in Teflon dishes, it’s not something your body should digest. In time, perfluorooctanoic might cause infertility and cognitive impairment. Another damaging substance is diacetyl; this attacks the brain’s protective layer.

Another issue with this snack is that most of the corn comes sources which are non-organic and were probably treated with different kinds of pesticides to enhance growth.

Other ingredients like the oil or emulsifiers are most likely genetically modified elements which are considered dangerous because they contain chemical substances which are not present in their naturally produced counterparts.

3. Margarine

Margarine is dangerous because of it’s rich in trans fats. These are produced during the manufacturing process when liquid fats are converted into solid fats. The oils are heated to make them last longer and avoid the rancid taste. Hydrogen atoms are added to their composition during the conversion process. 

If you are not aware of the risks trans fats involve, here’s a short list:

  • They increase the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and decrease the levels of HDL (good cholesterol)
  • They increase the risks of developing heart ailments
  • People who intake trans fats regularly have a higher risk of diabetes because these fats increase the blood insulin
  • Trans fats can damage the blood vessels
  • Fertility problems
  • Trans fats can decrease our immune response

Bottom line: try to avoid them. Margarine bars aren’t the only product containing trans fats. They are present in numerous other processed foods that can harm your health.

The ingredients that are correlated with trans fats are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. So, read the label of the products you purchase carefully and try to avoid the ones that contain this element.

4. Mayonnaise

This ingredient is present in many fast food products. The first thing that concerns us when we add it to our salad or burger is our waistline.

If you’re concerned about numbers, note that one tablespoon of this food has around 90 calories which is more than 4% of the daily recommended caloric amount. Another concerning fact is the amount of fats this tablespoon contains: 10 g which is around 15% of the recommended daily intake.

However, mayonnaise is not only guilty for our extra kilos, but it can also cause serious health problems related to high cholesterol levels.

You will find 5 mg of cholesterol in that mayonnaise tablespoon. This is more than 1,5 % of the daily recommended amount. This food is also rich in sodium. The same reference quantity contains 90 mg of sodium that is more than 3% of the recommended daily dose.

Bottom line: mayonnaise is bad for the heart because it is a very fatty and salty food which damages the arteries and increases blood pressure. Therefore, it should be completely taken out of the picture, especially if you suffer from a heart condition.

5. Processed Meat

This term refers to meat products that are not fresh but sold in stores after they have been processed and treated with various substances that extend their shelf life.

Processed meat refers to products like ham, bacon, sausages, salami, smoked or canned meat. These products are rich in sodium. Among others, they can also contain Nitrite and N-Nitroso Compounds that are meant to preserve them. These are damaging ingredients because they were correlated with various types of cancer. Processed meat can be harmful because it supports the development of:

  • Heart diseases
  • Bowel, stomach, pancreas, prostate and colorectal cancer
  • Hypertension
  • Type 2 diabetes

Research point out that processed meat is linked to increased rates of all-cause mortality. The preparation method used for these products is also important.

If you fry or grill processed meat, you expose it to large temperatures which produce cancerogenic chemicals like heterocyclic amines. If your morning starts with a large dish of fried bacon and eggs, you might want to reconsider the menu. If you can’t give up on processed meat, at least try to limit the consumption to 2-3 times a week.

6. Candy

If you buy your kid some candy, be very careful what product you pick. There are many colorful candy brands that might appeal to your child, but shouldn’t even be taken by adults.

Artificial colors might be a risk factor for ADD, the Attention Deficit Disorder. This makes your child hyperactive and affects the concentration and learning capabilities. Some countries have already banned dangerous artificial colors.

These are the alarming ingredients that should make you think twice before you add candies to your shopping chart.

  • This is the fuel your little one longs for. Too much of it is dangerous for kids and adults alike because it causes teeth decay, weight gain and it’s generally related to a poor diet. Sugar means high calories, but poor nutritional value. This is not what your child needs especially in the first years of life.
  • Saturated fats. These are related to increased cholesterol levels. Although kids’ metabolism functions at high speed, and they don’t risk gaining weight so easily, high amounts of cholesterol are harmful to them too.

There are also healthy foods that could harm you if you eat too much, but when it comes to candy, there’s no confusion. Almost all the products on the supermarket’s shelves contain some harmful substances.

7. Soda

Soda contains large amounts of sugar. A can of soda contains around 35 grams of sugar. The recommended added sugar intake per day is 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men.

These drinks can increase type 2 diabetes risks up to 19% and lead to obesity. If you are also a soda fan, try to choose the healthiest products that contain less sugar.

Other ingredients that should concern you are:

  • Fructose: most products contain fructose corn syrup which is made from genetically modified corn
  • Phosphoric acid: this impairs the body’s capacity to absorb calcium
  • Artificial sweeteners: these are a low-calorie substitute for sugar, but they are actually more damaging. Kept in heat, these sweeteners convert to methanol which is correlated with multiple health hazards (dizziness, insomnia, inflammation, nausea).

Do you usually have these products in your fridge? If the answer is yes, try to get rid of them as soon as possible and replace them with healthier alternatives. Also, don’t forget to go to regular medical checkups and see if you get all the necessary nutrients from your diet.

About author:
Ethel Huizar, a University of Colorado, Master of Public Health graduate. Her lifetime passions – science and nature – became part of her job as she writes for Healthrow articles related to health concerns.

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