When browsing the local grocery store, it can be easy to slip tasty-looking convenience items and treats into your cart. While many nutritious and healthy choices abound, there are also many tempting foods that are not only lacking in nutrition but may also be harmful to your health. The following are 11 unhealthy foods you should never consume, along with suggestions for healthier options that will treat your taste buds and nourish your body.
Salty, crunchy potato chips may taste great, but the pleasure they give is short-lived. Furthermore, potato chips contain salt, fat, and calories with no nutritional value to redeem them. Pretzels may seem like a healthier choice, but these crunchy morsels are made of refined white flour and plenty of salt, which can add pounds to your middle and raise your blood pressure. If you find yourself with a hankering for crispy, crunchy goodness, better options are low-salt veggie chips, whole grain crackers, or plain air-popped popcorn. Better yet, give a crispy stalk of celery or nutrient-packed baby carrots a try.
While a bubbly cola may hit the spot on a hot day, these beverages are laden with sugar and caffeine with no nutritive benefits. According to University Health News, sodas contribute to the development of fat around the liver. Sodas also cause an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Sodas can also contribute to osteoporosis either by replacing calcium-rich beverages like milk or by leaching calcium from bones. Sugar-free sodas are no better with their artificial chemical flavorings. Furthermore, studies suggest that even sugar-free sodas can cause weight gain. Keep your body refreshed and invigorated with plain or sparkling water instead of sodas.
Bread, a basic staple of so many cultural meals, has been referred to as the staff of life. However, the white breads typically consumed in American households are made from flour that has been highly processed. Refined white flour is processed to remove the bran and germ from the wheat. Doing so results in a flour with a finer texture and a longer shelf life, However, in this process, important nutrients are removed as well. This results in bread that provides empty calories and causes spikes in blood sugar that suddenly drop leaving you feeling hungry. Ditch white breads and enjoy whole grain varieties that provide nutrients as well as flavor.
While fruit juices may sound healthy since they come from fruit sources, they provide little more than sugar. Fruit juices retain some of the vitamins and minerals contained in whole fruit. However, they lack the fiber of whole fruits that prevents spikes in blood sugar and promotes good digestion. If you love the taste of a fruity beverage, try squeezing a twist of lemon or lime into an icy glass of water. Or enjoy a naturally sweet fruit smoothie made from frozen chunks of whole fruit.
Pre-packaged muffins, cookies, and cakes contain mostly fat, sugar, and empty calories. These items are often made with refined white flour and plenty of refined sugar as well as added chemical preservatives. When craving a sweet snack, prepare your own muffins or cakes at home using fresh ingredients and whole grains like wheat flour or oats. Allrecipes has a recipe for No-Bake Energy Bites that taste like a forbidden spoonful of chocolate chip cookie dough. However, they are made from healthy ingredients including peanut butter, oats, flaxseed, and honey.
Fried foods are notoriously bad for you as the foods soak up excess oil while cooking. Fried potatoes, such as French fries, have the added danger of forming a dangerous compound called acrylamide while frying. According to the American Cancer Society, acrylamide is a probable human carcinogen that forms when certain starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures. Studies suggest that fried foods contribute to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Rather than frying meats or vegetables, try grilling them or roasting them in the oven.
Margarine was first introduced as a healthy alternative to butter. However, many margarines contain saturated fats. These fats raise your bad cholesterol, lower your good cholesterol, and contribute to the risk of heart disease. Solid or stick margarines contain more saturated fats that spreadable margarines. If you choose to use margarine, compare labels and choose one without trans fats. A healthier alternative is olive oil, which contains the healthy monounsaturated fats your body needs.
Processed cheese isn’t really cheese. Processed cheese refers to cheese spreads, American cheese slices, and cheese products, and cheese foods that resemble cheese, but actually contain many artificial ingredients and fillers. The American Chemical Society found that processed cheeses typically contain some type of dried milk or whey along with emulsifiers, sweeteners, oils, and stabilizers. If the taste of cheese is what you crave, indulge in the real thing. Although real cheese can contain fat and sodium, it also is high in the calcium and protein your body needs.
The convenience of spending a few minutes in a drive-through and taking home a cheap meal can be very tempting. However, fast food meals are often high in calories, drenched in grease, and loaded with sodium. Furthermore, many fast food meals contain highly processed food products with content that bears little resemblance to the foods they represent. If saving time is your goal, seek out simple recipes that can be prepared quickly at home using fresh, whole ingredients. Or invest in a crockpot and toss in a few ingredients each morning so you can come home to a hot meal each evening.
Canned products can be good sources of nutrients. However, many canned products are made with high salt content in order to preserve freshness. Salt can wreak havoc on your body by raising your blood pressure and putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Skip the canned soups and make your own using vegetable broth or homemade chicken broth. If you do choose to use canned soups, check the labels and choose those that are lower in sodium.
Processed meats such as bacon, deli meats, and sausages may taste delicious, but they can be dangerous to your health. The World Health Organization has determined that processed meats can cause cancer. The American Cancer Society states that consuming the equivalent of four slices of bacon or one hot dog each day can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Additionally, consumption of red meats can increase your risk of pancreatic, colorectal, and prostate cancer. To decrease your risk of cancer, healthier choices are beans, poultry, or fish.