Health + Fitness
17 Foods That You Should Avoid At ALL Cost (& Why)
Over time the choice of food has become a careful and cautious decision for people who want to lose weight, who want to build muscular bodies or who just want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is because as the food industry becomes more and more commercialized, even the bright green packet of vegetables that says ‘healthy’ and ‘organic’ could have some harmful or problematic chemicals and/or nutrients that are actually bad for you.
The average consumer must have an idea of the foods that will make you sick, the foods that will make you fat and the foods that you should never eat. Aside from these, a health conscious individual should know the worst foods to avoid that include generally unhealthy foods and fattening foods.
To get a better idea of what foods to avoid, the following is a list of foods to avoid broken down into three broad categories, which are; foods that will make you sick; foods that will make you fat; and foods that you should never eat.
Before we begin, it is important to understand that a number of factors are involved in certain foods, causing certain reactions, so while chocolate is definitely a fatty food, dark chocolate has been known to help cardiovascular disease patients.
1. Foods that will make you sick
This list includes some fan favorite foods that have been known to cause food poisoning and general sickness. Food poisoning is caused by infectious bacteria attaching itself to the food you eat and in turn infecting your digestive system. So the key from this category is to avoid foods that have higher risks of being infected.
Salad Green Vegetables
Kale, Spinach, Lettuce, Cabbage are all some of the most important diet requirements in a healthy diet, yet according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “they have been involved in over 8,836 reported cases of food related illness.”
These popular greens are easily prone to contamination by fertilizer, dirty water rinses, or even the hygiene standard of where you purchase it from. In order to avoid getting sick ensure that the veggies are thoroughly washed and do not mix them when handling meat or other items to avoid cross contamination.
The problems with all bovine produce is self-explanatory. Beef has had a history of being the cause of numerous illnesses on a massive scale, such as several E. coli outbreaks in the United States and the infamous mad cow disease in the United Kingdom. These diseases can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting and failure of certain organs as well.
The key is to know where the produce is coming from. Mass produced farms that are controlled by large meat packing corporations such as Tyson Foods have questionable practices when it comes to the production and supply of meat.
You would be better off buying meat from local farmers or suppliers and taking certain precautionary measures when cooking. For example, using a thermometer in the thickest part of the beef when cooking to make sure it has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit will eliminate most bacteria.
It’s not surprising to find everyone’s favorite summer snack food in this list. Aside from the obvious cold properties of ice cream that can dry your throat, trigger sinusitis and cause headaches, ice cream is also not prone to bacterial outbreaks. Case in point is the ‘Blue Bell Meltdown of 2015.’ In 2014, Blue Bell recalled its signature ice cream after strains of listeria monocytogenes – a foodborne pathogen that causes numerous severe illnesses – were found during routine product sampling.
There isn’t much one can do to protect themselves from the bacteria in Ice Cream as the fault lies with the production process. However, given how much Ice Cream is produced worldwide the chances of getting sick are slim.
Oysters are seen as a delicacy in most parts of the world, however, before they are transformed into a hundred dollar dish, oysters perform a simple function on the ocean floor and that is filter feeding. Hence, if what they filter is polluted then the oysters are most likely ridden with bacteria as well.
The risk lies with consuming raw or undercooked oysters that carry harmful bacteria that can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Another popular fish dish all over the world and according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “responsible for over 268 poisoning outbreaks since 1990” is none other than tuna. This particular fish is prone to contamination by a bacterium known as scombrotoxin that can cause painful headaches and cramps.
The key to tuna and other fish is to ensure proper and appropriate cold storage as soon as it is out of the water.
By this point you’re thinking this is just a list of all your favorite comfort foods, but trust us, these facts are true. Most people do tend to get sick from cheese products consumed at home. In fact, it is especially dangerous to pregnant women as cheese can be contaminated with Salmonella or Listeria that can cause miscarriages.
Soft cheese such as brie and feta are usually unpasteurized and hence susceptible to harmful bacteria. Doctors recommend sticking to more trusting types and common cheese such as Cheddar or Gouda. Moreover, it is best to look for a ‘pasteurized’ label on the cheese you might buy and storing it properly in the fridge.
These little delicious items have caused quite an uproar in the way they were stored, produced and the resulting outbreaks of diseases. The most famous case was that of a Hepatitis A outbreak in 2013 from a batch of frozen strawberries in a school in California.
Frozen produce carries the bacteria strain from where it is originally grown so preventive measures should be taken there. The chances are still slim for getting sick from berries, however, it is important to ensure proper storage and know where your produce is coming from.
2. Foods that will make you fat
Diet lovers and nutritionists do read this with open eyes and mind. There is a high chance that there are certain foods you are consuming which may seem like they do not contribute much to your weight but in fact they do.
Moreover, the key to understanding this list is to know which foods carry the bad fat or saturated fats and which carry the good fat or unsaturated fats. In simple terms, saturated fats are heavier and dense in calories per gram and can cause clogging of arteries and increase cancer risks, whereas, unsaturated fats can reduce cholesterol levels and chances of heart diseases.
Nuts are the quintessential snack item in every house and backpack of any outdoorsman. They are rich in heart healthy fatty acids but they are extremely high in calories that contribute to a lot of fat production in your system. A handful won’t hurt you but making nuts a part of your regular meal and diet can contribute to gaining weight.
Almost everyone who has ever loved meat has consumed processed meat at some point in their lives. The processed meat packing industry is worth over a billion dollars and has had numerous controversies to match it.
Processed meat that is found in neatly packaged plastic containers and the frozen foods section that carry items such as BBQ wings or zinger burger patties, carry great amounts of saturated fats and high cholesterol in each bite. It doesn’t help that these foods are normally pan fried or deep fried in heavy oil for it to be fully cooked. These foods carry high salt quantities as well that leads to water retention and bloating.
If you’re thinking that this is about sweeteners found in soda drinks and carbonated soft drinks you’re not wrong, but this list also includes sugar substitutes such as Splenda, Canderel, and Sweet N Low.
According to research by the Mayo Clinic, “artificial sweeteners lead to a similar surge of insulin found in white carbohydrates such as pasta and rice.” This causes accelerated fat production and can also lead to diabetic problems.
Butter has a very high saturated fat content at about 7.2 grams per tablespoon serving of 14 grams. That’s half of the serving size. Butter is used in a lot of baked products and even savory dishes which is why it becomes difficult to avoid. Butter also has a high sodium count which leads to high cholesterol and consistent bloating of the stomach.
The key to tackling the butter problem is avoiding more processed butter such as margarine and light and low fat butter and instead taking in small quantities of organic and fresh made butter. These butters have a high count of unsaturated or good fats as well that are healthy for you.
That’s right we’ve finally blacklisted your absolute favorite and you couldn’t hate us more. There are probably very few people who have not listed down chocolate as their favorite snack and the ones who haven’t are probably lying.
The cocoa from chocolates carries high counts of saturated fats and sugar that contribute to high levels of calories consumed and consequently adds weight really fast. However, the plus side as mentioned before is that high-cocoa chocolates or dark chocolates help in lowering blood pressure and are heart healthy. So when buying your next bar think high-cocoa percentage and small portions versus large bars with extra sugary berries, nuts and caramel.
This includes white rice, white bread, white pasta, and other starchy foods. These foods are characteristically high on the glycemic index of foods and contribute greatly to weight gain. These are highly processed foods that lose a great quantity of their nutritious value during its production.
These foods are also part of many of the world’s most popular dishes and are hence overeaten and highly consumed. Consequently, this causes disturbance to your blood sugar levels and can add a lot of weight due to its high saturated fats per calorie ratio. The best precaution would be to avoid white or refined products and stick with more organic and colorful foods.
3. Foods you should never eat
Now that we’ve deliberated on the foods to avoid but can be taken with precaution, there are certain foods that one must avoid at all costs.
Junk Foods & Snacks
It is fairly obvious why junk foods is in this list. Aside from the fact that they taste good and are the best comfort and social food available; chips, candies, diet sodas, regular sodas, popcorn, and numerous more, contribute to many health concerns and in some cases even addiction.
The average soda contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Needless to say that is way too much for the average person let alone the average consumer who drinks 3 to 4 bottles a day. This heavy sugar intake causes disarray in you insulin levels and can lead to diabetes. Diet soda has its own problems such as risk of tooth decay and pancreatic cancer.
With regards to potato chips, producers deep fry potatoes in thick oils and fats that actually add fat to the calories of potatoes and increase the risk of weight gain and cardiovascular problems.
While other foods have some nutritional value that overlook its drawbacks, these foods are definitely ones you can do without.
Margarine was first seen as the prime dietary substitute to butter and perceived as being healthier. However, experts at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York says that “margarine, which is high in salt, contains artery-clogging trans fats.” Trans fats, a type of saturated fats or bad fats, raises cholesterol levels and cardiovascular problems. Not only that, but the inflammatory fats found in margarine impacts brain function through inflammation.
Olive oil butter substitutes are better but margarine in itself is fast becoming a product that health conscious consumers avoid.
If you can’t see the produce, don’t buy it. Canned foods is great for quick start meals and was seen as great storage and backup meals in the event of a disaster. But it is no longer the 19th or 20th century and canned foods should be completely taken out of the equation.
The dilemma of canned foods such as canned tomato lies with the packaging itself. The resin linings of aluminum tin cans contain Bisphenol A which is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins. BPA can seep into the foods in the packaging containers it is used to make and consequently cause negative effects on our health. It has been linked, through research, to various sickness and health concerns such as heart disease and even reproductive problems.
Frederick Vom Saal, a PhD professor of biological sciences says that, “You can get 50 micrograms of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young.”
Instant Noodles and other Instant Foods
If you’ve been through college or university, you’ve definitely spent your entire exam week on this low-budget quick fix. Instant noodles are consumed worldwide and are essentially made from flour much like pasta. The difference is that since these noodles have longer shelf lives it stands to reason they are highly processed. This means that they are low on nutritional value and high on fat, calories and sodium. Moreover, they also contain artificial coloring, great amounts of preservatives, additives and flavoring.
The main issue lies with Monosodium Glutamate or MSG which is a chemical taken from the petroleum industry that is used for taste and preservation. This chemical causes serious health risks including cravings, migraines and disarray of metabolism.
There are ways to avoid this dilemma, for example, by simply buying instant noodles that do not have MSG. However, it would be far wiser to avoid instant noodles and take out some time to prepare a healthy meal for yourself.
In the end it is important to note, whether a nutritionist, food lover, chef, bodybuilder, etc., there are certain unhealthy foods that should be avoided at all costs and warrants no benefit at all from consuming it. When it comes to other foods one should be more careful and cautious and think carefully before consumption, because at the end of the day it’s your health you are playing around with.