These days, it’s hard to know which foods are good to eat and which foods you should avoid with a 10-foot pole. This diet or that study will have you running circles in the supermarket, often with different sources completely contradicting each other.
A classic example is eggs. Ten years ago, the health authorities had us thinking that the average egg was only one step away from junk food, being loaded with bad cholesterol and unhealthy saturated fats. Today, these same experts have seemingly reversed their take on the matter, now admitting that the cholesterol from these eggs is, in fact, good cholesterol, and the fats from these eggs are, in fact, good fats. It makes you wonder why you ever bothered listening to these so-called experts in the first place!
The average person registers these ever-changing trends in food health, and simply decides to ignore all advice and shop for whatever they want to eat. While admirable, this approach is probably doing you and your family more harm than good, and in many instances is likely to create some serious health issues. Read on to find out foods you should actually avoid with that 10-foot pole… and I promise there’ll be no mind changing regarding their status in six months time!
1. Grain-fed beef
It just so happens that the digestive systems of cows are designed to process grass, not grains. So why are farmers shoving their cattle into sheds and force-feeding them things like soybeans, corn or rapeseed? The answer lies in productivity — cows that are fed grains fatten up faster, meaning they’re ready for the slaughter quicker than grass-fed cows. This means greater productivity for the farmer, but it means the cows are far less healthy.
The result is beef which is pro-inflammatory, high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in heart-healthy omega-3s, and which often has residual antibiotics and pesticides from the feed they’re given. Nasty!
2. Non-organic apples
Apples have long been glorified as the embodiment of all that is healthy, however, if you took the time to do the research you’d find a very dirty secret in the apple industry. Non-organic apples clock in as the second most toxic foods in the Environmental Working Group’s 2016 “Dirty Dozen” list. The reason for this is that apple producers coat this fruit in pesticides, insecticides and other chemicals in order to keep bugs from blemishing their perfect skin and ruining the look of the end product.
Whether you wash them first or not, when you bite into these non-organic apples you’re ingesting more than just an apple. The chemicals which coat the outside of these apples can create chaos inside your body, setting your up for all kinds of health conditions, including cancer. They’ve also been found to be significantly lower in nutrients than organic apples.
3. Microwave popcorn
Regardless of the fact that microwave popcorn is full of empty carbs that go straight to your hips, or the fact that the flavoring in these kinds of popcorn is often artificial and damaging to your health, it’s the packaging your should really be worried about.
Studies indicate that the lining of microwave popcorn bags contains traces of perfluorooctanoic acid, otherwise known as PFOA. This compound, which passes from the lining to the popcorn itself when you stick it in the microwave, has been linked to infertility, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer and liver cancer. Perhaps chopped up carrots and celery sticks wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
4. Farmed salmon
Similar to apples, many people now consider salmon to be the gold standard in healthy fish no matter where it comes from. Sadly, this is most definitely not the case — all it takes is a single visit to a salmon farm to see just how unhealthy these fish really are.
Farmed salmon are confined to cramped, overcrowded pens and fed a nasty concoction of things which could hardly be called food. These include hydrolyzed chicken feathers and poultry poop, two things which are a far cry from their natural diet and which cause these fish to develop quickly but in a horrifyingly unhealthy manner. The result is salmon meat that is nutritionally devoid, has a much lower omega-3 content than natural salmon, and which often contains residual amounts of the antibiotics and pesticides found in the fish feed.
5. Canned tomatoes
Non-organic tomatoes sit at number nine on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” list, implying that these tomatoes are loaded with pesticides, insecticides and other harmful chemicals. This situation can become much worse, however, if those same tomatoes are then jammed into a can.
Canned tomatoes may appear to be the very picture of health, but studies show that these tomatoes contain a high concentration of bisphenol-A, which lines the inside of the can that houses them. Better known as BPA, this compound is a synthetic estrogen which causes reproductive and cardiovascular diseases and can negatively affect the development of baby’s and children’s brains. Stick to organic tomatoes in glass jars.
6. Non-organic potatoes
I was always under the impression that because they spend their time growing underground, potatoes don’t really require much in the way of sprays or chemicals to ensure they grow up blemish-free. It turns out I was wrong. The USDA’s Pesticide Data Program reports that your standard potato contains at least six cancer-causing chemicals, 12 suspected hormone disruptors and at least seven known neurotoxins. That’s enough to have me running straight for the overpriced organic potatoes every single time!
7. Processed meats
Processed meats like ham, salami and roast beef are almost all made with meats from animals raised in deplorable conditions. These meat factories are horribly inhumane and expose the animals to growth hormones, antibiotics and other drugs to ward off the diseases that run rampant through such places due to the cramped conditions. These compounds remain in the meat of the animal, which means you’re chomping down on far more than just deli meat when you slap them in a sandwich or on a cracker. Such meats often contain harmful artificial colors and flavors as well.
Come on people, I shouldn’t even need to tell you to stay away from this travesty of food! Margarine makes a poor replacement for butter, not only because we now know that saturated fat is good for our health (meaning grass-fed butter is no longer off-limits to the health-conscious eater), but also because it’s loaded with harmful trans fats, free radicals from hydrogenated vegetable oils, preservatives, emulsifiers and toxic solvents. Believe me when I say that you are most definitely not making the healthy choice when you reach for the marge!
9. Table salt
Despite what your misguided health practitioner might have told you, salt is essential for healthy living. In fact, without salt, your cells would quickly wither and die. The problem with salt lies with the table variety — these salts are processed to the point where your body is unable to recognize them, meaning they make you dehydrated and introduce your digestive system to dangerous chemicals like ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate. Get your salt from unprocessed sources like Himalayan pink salt and unrefined (gray) sea salt, and stay well away from sodium-rich processed foods.
10. Vegetable oils
I always do a double take whenever I see a bottle of canola, corn, soy or sunflower oil sitting in someone’s kitchen pantry. That’s because vegetable oils are one of the most harmful foods on the planet. These oils are processed to a point where they’re almost inedible, they contain an atrocious omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, and they expose your body to free-radical supporting oxidized cholesterol. Stay away from the vegetable oils and stick to staples like butter, coconut oil or avocado oil.
This one, at least, is probably no surprise to see on the list. In addition to the obviously high levels of sugars and artificial sweeteners, frosting also contains harmful compounds like trans fats, corn syrup, preservatives, artificial colors and artificial sweeteners. Many frostings also contain GMO soybeans or cottonseed oil, and certain brands in the U.S. also contain food colorings which have been banned in most other countries.
12. Conventional milk and dairy
The reasons you should stay well away from grain-fed beef are similar for cow’s milk and other conventional dairy products. Cows raised the conventional American way are pumped full of antibiotics, fed on pro-inflammatory grains and loaded with growth hormones in an attempt to increase milk production. These compounds are passed on into milk and other dairy products, and can ensure rapid weight gain in humans, increase in inflammatory conditions like arthritis, development of food allergies, diminished gut health and even cancer. Stick to hormone-free milk, preferably organic and grass-fed.
13. Grilled meat
Sure, George Foreman stumbled into a culinary goldmine when he promised to “knock out the fat” with his grill, but it turns out that grilling isn’t as healthy as you might have thought. The direct heat applied to meat during the process of barbecuing or grilling exposes it to polycyclic-aromatic-hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These chemicals, which pass into our bodies when we eat grilled meats, have been linked with breast, colon, prostate and lymph node cancer. Stick to low-heat cooking, if you value your health.
— Liivi Hess
Continuing our tirade against harmful foods, here are the six worst foods on earth!