We all know that fast food isn't exactly going to help our bodies get any healthier. Sugar? Yes, we've heard it all before. Same goes for French fries, ice cream, chocolate, chips, and candy. But did you know some of the planet's most unhealthy foods are things you'd never expect?
You've read that correctly - sometimes the worst foods for you are things you actually thought were good for you. We have to admit, we feel a little guilty for dropping this disappointing information in your lap like this. But hey, at least you won't have to worry about a surprise food giving you health problems.
Be warned - once you read this list you won't be able to unread it. And we're sure some of your favorite things will feature. Start preparing for a total pantry overhaul, because we're about to reveal some of the unhealthiest foods on earth. #50 will totally stun you because you probably eat it daily!
1. Fruit Yogurt
Fruit yoghurt has done well disguising itself as a health food for so many years. Most of the fruit flavored yoghurts you're used to seeing on your supermarket shelves actually contain very little fruit. Those bright pinks, purples, and yellows aren't the result of all the strawberries, blueberries, and bananas inside. Most of the coloring comes from fruit juice concentrate, which, as you can guess, isn't the key to a healthy diet.
These types of fruit yoghurts contain a bunch of sugar, and if they claim to be sugar-free, they're using a bunch of sugar substitutes instead. But it's not all doom and gloom for all the yoghurt lovers out there. Natural, unsweetened yoghurt is actually full of live cultures known as probiotics, which help both your immune system and your digestion. Simply serve yourself a bowl of this with some real pieces of fruit on top.
2. Deli Meats
Who doesn't love deli meats? They're cheap and taste great on sandwiches, so it's no wonder they've been a lunch time staple for so many years. However, regular consumption of deli meats could be putting your health at risk. Basically, they're full of sodium. In fact, just two thin slices of meat can contain more sodium than a packet of pretzels. Consuming too much sodium has been proven to increase your chances of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
There are some slightly healthier deli meats marketing themselves as "natural" uncured alternatives, but they're still very questionable from a health perspective. Try reducing your intake of deli meats in general to reap the rewards of a diet lower in sodium. Need some new sandwich inspiration? Try avocado, tuna, falafel, smoked salmon, or fresh chicken.
3. Refried Beans
Before you start stressing about having to cancel burrito night, we'll cut to the chase: not all refried beans are bad, but some of the mass-produced mainstream brands definitely are, especially if they come in a can. For example, Old El Paso's refried beans contain hydrogenated lard, which is basically a double whammy of trans fats and saturated fat. Your heart will not be very happy about this artery clogging power couple.
When you purchase refried beans, you should always choose the vegetarian option. We personally think that canned beans should all be vegetarian by default, but it's another case of always having to check the label. Another thing to look out for is sodium content. So many canned goods are full of salt, so always go for something that isn't going to give you heart problems in the future.
4. Wheat Bread
Don't be fooled by white breads marketing themselves as "wheat" or "whole grain" breads. Unless the packaging specifies "100% whole wheat" you're likely to be buying something that is made with plenty of sugar and refined white flour. Sure, they'll throw in a few whole grains for good measure, but this still isn't a healthy alternative to white bread. In fact, some breads marketed as whole grain contain more sugar than standard white breads.
Always check the ingredients before you buy, to make sure sugar and white flour aren't the stars of the show. If you're trying to buy a healthier bread, 100% whole wheat flour should be the first ingredient on the list. There are also some other great alternatives made from spelt flour and rye. Just always be sure to check your ingredients first.
5. American Cheese
You can tell American cheese is bad for you simply by looking at it. Individually wrapped slices of cheese, such as Kraft Singles are packed with terrible ingredients, including sodium citrate, which has been known to cause muscle spasms, as well as sodium phosphate, which has been linked to osteoporosis and kidney problems. Not to mention the unnatural food coloring used to give it that yellow glow. Is it really worth adding one to your sandwich?
Not all cheeses are evil, though it is worth cutting back if you're eating it every day. If you're looking for an alternative to unhealthy American cheese, try something organic and more natural, such as cheddar or parmesan. Of course, make sure it's fresh and doesn't contain any preservatives or artificial coloring. It might be a bit more expensive, but could save you some health issues!
6. Diet Sodas
Always remember that no sugar doesn't necessarily mean something isn't harmful. Diet sodas are one of the worst things you can put in your body, and arguably even worse than their sugar-laden originals. Artificial sweeteners, coloring, and other questionable ingredients all feature in your favorite "diet" drinks. The caramel flavoring in diet cola drinks has also been found to increase the rate of tumors in rats and has been flagged as a potential carcinogen for humans.
Though they're marketed as zero calorie, "healthy" alternatives to regular sodas, many of them have been found to increase glucose levels and add more stress to the liver, which leads to more fat production in the body. If you're looking for an alternative to soda, try getting into herbal tea instead. It might not sound as exciting, but you'll get used to it!
7. Salad Dressing
Most pre-packaged salad dressings taste savory but are actually full of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Just two tablespoons of some dressings contain more sugar than a donut. And the ones that don't use sugar? They're overloaded with fat. In some cases, two tablespoons will contain your entire daily recommended intake of fat. Many salad dressings also contain soybean oil, which has been known to increase appetite. When you're trying to be good by eating salad, this kind of defeats the purpose.
High fructose corn syrup goes one better and increases appetite while causing a number of serious health problems, such as diabetes and obesity. For a healthier alternative, make your own dressing with natural ingredients, such as olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and mustard. Even whole egg mayonnaise is a better alternative than using bottled salad dressings.
How could a pickled cucumber be so bad? Unfortunately, many brands add yellow coloring to their pickles, as well as a bunch of other concerning ingredients, such as Polysorbate 80. Polysorbate 80 is a common emulsifier found in a number of pickle jars. It is also used to make diet ice cream and has been linked to cancer in mice. We know that's not the same as humans, but we'd still probably say "no thanks" to things like that!
Another questionable ingredient is sodium benzoate, which has been shown to cause cell damage. Fortunately for pickle addicts, there is a very good solution that doesn't feel like a compromise. Simply make sure you're purchasing organic pickles without these harmful ingredients on the label. You might have to spend a little more time searching for them, but they're out there.
9. Protein Bars
The popularity of protein bars has been one of the biggest scams in diet food history. Marketed as healthy options for recovering muscles after workouts, plenty of gym goers consumed them on a daily basis. After all, they thought it was helping them tone their bodies. Most protein bars are filled with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, as well as cancer-causing colorings and polysorbate 60, which can cause toxic reactions in the body.
Unfortunately, switching to sugar-free options only exposes you to harmful artificial sweeteners instead. Try to avoid protein bars completely and instead opt for other, more natural sources of protein, such as chicken, turkey, eggs, and raw nuts. Try preparing two hard boiled eggs and eating them as a post-workout snack. It is a far healthier alternative to toxic protein bars and still tastes good.
10. Frozen Entrees
We all know how easy it is to just pop that frozen meal in the microwave. Perfect for those nights when you just can't be bothered to cook, but don't want to waste money on take-out. When you've had a stressful day at work, it almost feels like there's no other option. But maybe this will change your mind. Most frozen entrees are packed with harmful trans fats, preservatives, and unbelievable levels of sodium. Why do it to yourself when the result isn't even that good?
Fortunately, there are some alternative options available. The best one? Cook your own meals, distribute them into containers, and freeze them yourself so they're ready the next time you need an easy meal. If you're still not feeling that motivated, there are healthier ready meals available, just always check the ingredients list to make sure everything is all natural.
We get it - what's a cake without frosting, right? Birthdays just wouldn't have the same excitement if cakes were bald. But there are some small issues with the ingredients in frosting. This is basically a fake food, with no natural parts to it. Frosting pretty much consists of trans fats in the form of hydrogenated vegetable oils, titanium dioxide, sugar, food dye, and propylene glycol. Do we even have to explain why this is actually a recipe for disaster?
Several food dyes have been found to be carcinogenic in humans. And let's not forget propylene glycol, which has been found to cause kidney problems. If you're looking for a healthier frosting for your cake, try making your own! There are plenty of amazing recipes online that use avocado, dark chocolate, and other healthy ingredients to form a guilt-free and delicious frosting.
12. Pancake Syrup
Before you panic and think we're attacking legitimate maple syrup, we'd like to make it clear that we're most definitely not doing anything of the sort. We're talking about pancake syrups such as Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth that don't even have a drop of the real stuff in them. Most of these generic syrups are comprised of high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to obesity and diabetes, and caramel coloring, which is carcinogenic, i.e. cancer-causing.
The good news is that when eaten in moderation, genuine maple syrup is not a bad alternative. Because the flavor is so strong, there's no need to drench your pancakes or French toast in it. A little bit tends to go a long way. For those wanting to give up the sweet stuff completely, try enjoying your pancakes with some real butter and fruit on top.
This entry shouldn't really surprise anyone. What did you expect from a tart that you can put in your toaster? At least we can give Pop-Tarts one thing: they've never pretended to be a health food - we just love them so much that we keep eating them! Pop-Tarts have always been convenient and delicious and being marketed as a breakfast food means we feel less guilty about eating dessert in the morning.
But taste and convenience come with a price. Pop-Tarts are full of high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, soybean oil, and harmful preservatives. If you want something fruity and grainy, yet a little healthier in the morning, try a bran cereal with plenty of berries on top. Sneak a little honey in, too. It might not taste as great as a Pop-Tart, but it's worth it.
14. Bottled Smoothies
Not all bottled smoothies are deceptive, but plenty of them are. These drinks seem like a healthy and convenient way to grab breakfast on the go, but some of them are full of sugar. In some cases, you might as well throw all notions of health out the window and get a soda instead. Nutrition is not really a factor here, as pre-made "fruit" smoothies leave all the beneficial fruit fiber behind. All these drinks will do is cause your blood sugar to spike, leaving you with a nasty come down in the middle of your morning.
If you want a healthy alternative, buy a freshly made smoothie instead or simply make one at home. Just get all the ingredients ready the night before so you don't have to spend time on it in the morning. Pop it in a lidded cup and you're ready to take it to work with you! If you do buy from a store just keep an eye out for sugar content.
15. Charred Meats
There's nothing like a char-grilled steak when you're feeling really hungry. Or a char-grilled burger. Or char-grilled wings. You get the picture, we love when things are char-grilled! The bad news is that charring your meats isn't super healthy. In fact, it can actively cause harm in the body. This happens when the sugars and amino acids in meat react to the high temperatures of a grill. When this reaction takes place, heterocyclic amines develop, which have been known to increase the risk of pancreatic, prostate, and colorectal cancers.
If you'd like to reduce the risk of cancer while still enjoying your grilled meats, try adding rosemary beforehand. This can really halt the production of heterocyclic amines by up to 90 percent. But the best way to get past this is to not burn your meat. Turn the heat down and try not to char it.
16. Fast Food
It wouldn't be an unhealthy food list without fast food. We all know this stuff is terrible for us, but we just keep on eating it anyway! They make it taste so good, it's pretty much an addition. We don't need to tell you about all of the ingredients in fast food that will make you sick. But we will mention one thing you might not have heard of and that's phthalates.
Phthalates are toxins that are very harmful to the human endocrine system. They're not an actual ingredient in your food, but they are found on plastic wrappers and packaging, similar to BPA. They can cause inflammation and have been linked to metabolic syndrome and obesity. To kill your chances of consuming too many phthalates, just reduce your intake of fast food. It's the only way!
17. Energy Drinks
There's a reason why energy drinks taste like chemicals. It's because they're full of them! The high content of caffeine and sugar is a recipe for health problems, and it doesn't even taste very good. If the numerous stories of people overdosing on energy drinks hasn't put you off, maybe the fact that they cause liver damage will. Or the fact that they cause more damage to teeth than soda. There are really so many reasons not to drink them.
If you're looking for an energy boost, try a green tea instead. It doesn't provide the sugar hit that energy drinks do, but trust us, you'll get used to it. If tea isn't your style, try an espresso or black coffee from freshly ground beans (not instant). You won't want to overdose too much on these, either, but one is fine.
18. Brown Rice
Wait a minute - haven't we all been eating brown rice because everyone said it's healthier than white rice? As it turns out, while it is full of fiber and selenium, there are also small amounts of arsenic in brown rice. Arsenic is a carcinogen known for increasing the likelihood of lung, bladder, and skin cancers. Not to mention heart disease.
Arsenic doesn't show up in white rice, as it has been polished, whereas brown rice has been left in tact with its natural fiber. The reality is that unless you eat brown rice every day, there isn't too much to worry about. Make sure the grains in your diet are varied and you won't have a problem with consuming too much arsenic. Mix it up with white rice, pastas, quinoa, and other carbs, as well as brown rice and you'll be okay.
19. Breakfast Biscuits
Unless you've baked them yourself, the majority of biscuits on the market are nowhere near healthy for regular consumption. They're typically full of hydrogenated oils, which are a form of dangerous trans fats. Your average breakfast biscuit contains about three grams of trans fats, which is more than the recommended daily intake. We know biscuits are good, but they're definitely not good enough to risk heart disease for.
Let's talk about alternatives. We want to be realistic: there isn't really an ideal swap for something like biscuits. They shouldn't really be eaten for breakfast, so we'd suggest a nice whole wheat toast with fruit and honey on top instead. Add some real butter if you want to achieve more of a decadent taste. We wish biscuits were suitable breakfast fare, but sadly, they're really the last thing we should be eating first thing in the morning.
20. BBQ Sauce
Unfortunately for BBQ lovers everywhere, BBQ sauce is simply not good for you. We love that smoky flavor on our grilled meats, too, but it's time we acknowledged that it's one of the unhealthier condiments out there. It's basically all high fructose corn syrup, which, as we've mentioned, is linked to a whole bunch of scary diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. We know what we'd rather choose!
Instead of pouring a bottle of sugar on your dinner, why not consider a healthier alternative? Mustard is full of flavor and perfect for the job. You can also make your own BBQ sauce if you really can't give it up. Online recipes can show you how to make a pretty healthy version with a combination of Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, tomato paste, and other spices.
21. Diet Ice Cream
If diet ice cream seems too good to be true, that's because it is. Think about it. If they can't use creamy, high-fat milk to get the texture just right, what do they have to do instead? The answer is that they use a lot of chemicals. One additive in particular gives diet ice cream that regular ice cream texture. Its name is polysorbate 80 and it is what's known as a synthetic emulsifier. It has been known to cause inflammation in the gut and create the ideal environment for colon cancer.
When it comes to ice cream, there's simply no genuine substitute! But if you're looking for something creamy and sweet that isn't going to cause a whole bunch of health problems later on, why not try natural Greek-style yoghurt with some organic honey and stewed fruits? It's delicious, we promise!
22. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks, such as Gatorade, Powerade, and the various brands of vitamin water on the market are good at marketing themselves as the ultimate hydration solution. And it's true that most of these drinks do contain electrolytes and potassium, which are beneficial in combating dehydration after physical activity (or a bad hangover). But, the fact of the matter is that they're full of sugar and unnatural dyes. They're not worth the benefits they provide.
Artificial additives commonly found in sports drinks, such as wood rosin, have also been linked to cancer. Need a post-workout drink that isn't full of crap? Try water. If that's not exciting enough or you need an extra boost, get yourself some coconut water. Make sure the ingredients list is simply '100 percent coconut water' and that it doesn't contain added sugar.
It feels like no salsa and guacamole night is complete without several packets of Doritos to go with them. If we're being totally honest, we don't even need the salsa and guacamole to justify shoveling ridiculous volumes of Doritos in our mouths. And that's kind of the secret behind the chip. One of the main ingredients is monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG, and its whole purpose is to increase appetite and make things taste better.
Not only that, but the Doritos breath you get is designed to linger like it does so you'll keep thinking about eating more of them. Sneaky! Basically, this delicious snack is really not good for you and it's time to cut back. Try any other chip that doesn't contain ludicrous levels of additives and MSG and you'll be doing a better job.
24. Canned Soup
Just when you thought you were doing something right, we're going to barge in and rain on your health parade. It's true, soup is often a really healthy meal choice, particularly as it's liquid and very easy for your body to digest. It's also typically low in calories (unless you've gone wild with something extra creamy). But some of the canned soups out there are not doing you any favors. Some canned soups are so full of sodium that they overwork the kidneys, causing water retention and bloating.
Salt is also a tricky ingredient, as it convinces our bodies that we're not actually full. So, after that canned soup you'll probably eat a bunch of other stuff anyway. Try making your own soup and distributing it into freezer baggies for whenever you get a soup craving. If that's too much, go for the brands that don't overload their soups with sodium. You'll have better luck at health food stores.
25. Fruit Juice
Don't believe what the packaging says. "All natural", "made from real fruit" and "full of vitamins" are just some examples of advertising copy used to market fruit juice as a health product. And it makes total sense, why wouldn't it be healthy? Unfortunately, when these fruit juices are mass produced, all fiber from the fruit is left behind, so all you get is the sugar. There's also plenty of added sugar and high fructose corn syrup in most of these drinks.
The reason we can't eat 12 oranges whole is because they are full of fiber. When you remove that fiber, you're eating the sugar of 12 oranges, which is not something our bodies were designed to do. Always consume your fruit with their natural fiber, or you'll be consuming way too much sugar. Instead of fruit juices, why not try infusing some chilled water with chopped up fruit?
Whoever invented muffins was really onto something. They're basically cupcakes without the frosting - of course they were going to be popular if you told people they could eat them for breakfast! Not only are they typically baked with sugar and refined white flour, packaged muffins also come with a full dose of preservatives. Muffins are high in calories and the sugar content can cause them to be addictive. When you combine it with a morning coffee there's no wonder you get that mid-morning come down.
Sugary cakes are not a good dietary choice in general, but especially not for breakfast. Giving your body such a sugar spike so early in the day is only going to set the tone for more unhealthy eating. Once your mid-morning come down hits, you'll start searching for even more sugar and caffeine to pep you back up again. It's a vicious cycle!
27. Sugary Cereal
As we've said time and time again, sugar as your first meal is a terrible idea. You'll spend the rest of the day chasing the sugar rush and you'll throw your whole body into turmoil in the process. Just don't do it. Sugary cereals are one of the worst culprits, you only have to take one look at their fluorescent colors and quirky shapes to know how unnatural they are. They're another one of those totally fake foods with no nutritional value whatsoever.
Some American cereals even contain carcinogenic ingredients, such as butylated hydroxytoluene or butylated hydroxyanisole, that are banned in other western countries including the UK, most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. If you love your cereal, switch over to a brand with no added sugar. Your body will thank you for it!
28. Boxed Mac & Cheese
We're not sure why our parents fed us so much of this stuff when we were kids - it's so unhealthy! Just like the multi-colored cereal we talked about, you really only have to look at boxed mac & cheese to know it's not going to do you any good. And we like to use the term 'cheese' very loosely when it comes to this stuff! A proper serving of Kraft's Mac & Cheese can cost you up to half of your daily recommended sodium intake.
Unless you want to hook yourself up with some high blood pressure, hypertension, or other sodium-related ailments, we'd advise steering clear of the old mac & cheese. Try making whole grain pasta with real, grated parmesan on top. You can even add a little pesto to make it fancy if you like.
29. Frozen Pies
The thing about pies is that they're really time consuming to make from scratch. You've got to bake the crust first, then put the filling together, and then more baking has to take place (we're not experts, but we think it goes something like that). It's understandable why so many of us turn to frozen pies when we're looking for a comforting dessert.
Unfortunately, they contain high volumes of trans fats and are terrible for heart health. Trans fats have been proven to be far worse for your health than saturated fats and have been known to clog up arteries fast. It's not just your heart you have to worry about. Excessive consumption of trans fats can also affect brain and sexual function. Always choose a homemade pie if you're looking for an alternative - even if you have to get it from your local bakery.
30. Hot Dogs
We're all aware that hot dogs are pretty nasty, but they're just so cheap and so perfect for some situations. It's hard to give them up - they're almost part of American culture. Hot dogs produce carcinogenic nitrates, which have been linked to increased instances of cancer. And if cancer isn't enough to put you off, how about all of the heart-damaging sodium? Most hot dogs also contain a preservative called sodium phosphate, an ingredient that even McDonald's banned.
If cancer, heart problems, accelerated aging, bone problems, and kidney disease aren't your style, you might want to think up some alternatives. The humble sausage, if purchased from a trustworthy local butcher, is a great substitute. There are also a number of organic hot dog options available in most supermarkets, but we're still not totally sold on those!
31. Coffee Creamer
We all secretly know that coffee creamer isn't the best thing for us. But what's the harm when you use so little of it? You've got to think, though, if you're using it every single day, it's not just a small amount. It also contains hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are a form of trans fats, and there's nothing harmless about those. When your heart health is at stake, how can you justify that tiny bit of creamer?
If you don't want to end up with a bunch of heart problems, it's best to get coffee creamer out of your life, particularly the Nestle brands, which all contain trans fats. Use regular milk, soy milk, or any other milk alternatives, such as almond milk, instead. You could even try drinking your coffee black. It's hard to get used to at first, but once you're there you'll wonder why you ever needed to add anything.
32. Chinese Food
When we say Chinese food, we're not talking about the stuff your Chinese friend's mom used to make you for dinner. We're talking about the Chinese restaurants designed to appeal to the western palate. The ones that serve food you'd never actually find in China. Some items on these menus contain more than four times the sodium you're supposed to consume in one day. And we haven't even mentioned the monosodium glutamate (MSG) yet.
MSG is notorious for making food taste better when it naturally tastes quite mediocre. It also gives you that tired 'headache-y' feeling after you've stuffed yourself full of Chinese take-out. Basically, it's not good for you and you should try to avoid it! Instead of ordering in, why not make your own fresh Asian meals full of vegetables and healthy ingredients?
33. Instant Oatmeal Packets
There's nothing like a nice, hot bowl of oatmeal on a cold morning. And you've just got to love how easy instant oatmeal packets are. They're cheap and take two minutes to prepare - it's basically the dream breakfast. The only problem is that many of these instant oats come complete with flavoring, and its often the dreaded carcinogenic caramel flavoring, too. The reason it's so harmful is because it contains an ingredient called 4-Mel, which has been shown to increase the rate of tumor growth in rats.
There's also plenty of other nasties, including additives and trans fats in your lovely bowl of oatmeal. Suddenly it doesn't seem so wonderful anymore, does it? The good news is that a great alternative is available. Simply make your own plain oats and add real fruit instead of flavoring. It takes a bit more time, but it's totally worth it.
34. Lean Cuisine
It's always the ones you'd least expect! Lean Cuisine is marketed not only as an easy meal solution, but as a way to stay healthy and lose weight. But the fact of the matter is that you shouldn't be living on this stuff. Look, Lean Cuisine isn't exactly going to kill you, but if you're eating it every night, you may be consuming more sodium and trans fats than you should be. When it comes to purchasing these, it should be done with a 'once in a while when I really can't deal with cooking' mentality.
Not all of the Lean Cuisine options are terrible. Make sure you check the ingredients on each one before purchasing to make sure it's not one that's overloaded with salt. As we've said, microwave meals aren't the devil, but you'd be far better off cooking a big batch of meals yourself and freezing them for those lazy nights instead.
If ever there was a fake food, Cheetos have got to be it. What are they, anyway? These cheesy snacks feel like they literally disappear the moment they hit your mouth, and that's no accident. Cheetos were designed to feel like you're practically eating air, resulting in wanting to eat more and more of them. When you think about it, it is scarily easy to devour a giant packet of them in one sitting. Oh, did we also mention they contain MSG?
No matter which way you look at it, Cheetos are bad news for your health and it's probably time to start enjoying another snack instead. Try looking for rice or nut-based snacks that are cheddar cheese flavor. They may not be the healthiest option, but they'll be far better than shoveling another bag of Cheetos into your mouth.
36. Baked Goods
You know it's bad news when the UK and Canada have banned an ingredient. Unfortunately for those of us living in the USA, we're still at risk of consuming a dangerous toxin known as potassium bromate (also known as bromated flour) when we eat baked goods. We're talking about rolls, pizza, bagel chips, bread crumbs, wraps, and any other number of popular baked goods. Potassium bromate is a dough strengthener that has been labeled potentially carcinogenic for humans after it was shown to induce tumor growth in rats. Yikes!
The best way to avoid this harmful carcinogenic is to scan the ingredients list on any baked goods you buy. Anything that says bromated flour or potassium bromate should be put back on the shelf where it belongs. If you buy from your local bakery, simply ask them if they use it in their products.
37. Bottled Water
Okay, hear us out before you start calling this list ridiculous. We swear it's true that consuming bottled water can be extremely harmful if the plastic contains BPA. BPA is a chemical that has been found to be harmful to humans, and unfortunately it lurks in so much of our plastic bottles and packaging, including reusable bottles and containers. As it mimics hormones, the problems associated with BPA have been early puberty, sperm reduction, and increased chances of contracting reproductive cancers. Some studies are even linking BPA to the growth of male breasts.
To avoid this chemical, buy a reusable BPA-free bottle and carry your water in that. Some commercial bottled water is now being sold in glass bottles, which are also safe. Whatever you do, make sure anything plastic states that it's BPA-free before you buy it.
38. Dried Fruit Snacks
As with many items on this list, some things are just too good to be true. The reason dried fruit snacks are easier to eat than real fruit and taste so good is because they're not actually healthy. Many of them contain a lot of sugar and preservatives that are no good for the human body. Dried fruits often contain sulfites, too, which are used to keep them fresh. Sulfites can be extremely inflammatory, especially to those with allergies and asthma.
If you just can't get enough of your dried fruits, get them from a trusted health food retailer and make sure they don't contain sulfites or added sugar. They'll taste just as good! The other option you can try is just eating regular fruit. Berries are a great snack size, or you could chop up apples for something crunchy.
39. Deep Fried Foods
Fried food, especially fried chicken, are some of life's greatest culinary joys. Unfortunately, they're one of the worst things you can eat, and that's mostly because of high levels of Advanced Glycation End products (also known as AGEs). AGEs are formed when animal products are cooked at a high heat for a certain period of time. They're extremely inflammatory and are the gateway to many diseases. The name is apt, as exposure to AGEs will literally age you prematurely.
In addition to the whole AGE thing, fried foods are devoid of all nutrition and are super high in calories, so they'll be doing nothing helpful for your waistline. The best alternative available is to just order or cook grilled chicken and seafood instead. Once you get used to it, it actually tastes just as good!
40. Bacon & Sausage
These two deserve their own joint listing together, because they're basically just as bad as each other when it comes to health. They're both highly processed and tend to contain high levels of AGEs, which, as we've explained above, is very bad news. They both contain nitrates and nitrites, which can turn carcinogenic at high temperatures (as you know, this is typically the case when cooking bacon and sausages).
The solution to this is making sure you buy uncured meats with no nitrites instead. There are plenty of responsible butchers around who will be able to supply you with the healthiest kind of sausages and bacon if that's what you're after (who can resist bacon with their breakfast on the weekend?). Cooking on low heat in the oven is another way to reduce the production of AGEs.
41. Chewing Gum
We know what you're thinking - now food you don't even really eat is dangerous? Bear with us here while we try to explain why chewing gum has made the list. Commercially available chewing gum has typically been sugar-free for decades now. But sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners are still present and they're not good for you. Sugar alcohols in particular can cause digestive problems, bloating, and flatulence. Is chewing gum worth all that embarrassment? You don't even get to swallow it!
As for the artificial sweeteners, even though you're not swallowing the gum, they're still triggering your body's receptors and you'll find that you'll often be hungry or have a craving for something sweet afterwards. Try giving up chewing gum altogether. If that's not possible, you could start snacking on something low calorie like sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
Oreos are another American classic that feel interwoven in our culture. For this reason, they can be hard to give up, they're just that good! But we have a few reasons why you might want to start trying. Firstly, they contain palm oil, which is not only inflammatory, but also typically from unsustainable sources, which is bad for the environment. If you've ever read about orangutans in Asia who have lost their homes, it's totally because of palm oil.
Oreos have also been shown to be highly addictive, even more so than some illegal drugs. They actually injected mice with cocaine but found that they preferred our favorite childhood snack instead. If you're after a chocolate cookie fix, there are plenty of sugar-free, palm oil-free alternatives you can find in the health food section of your supermarket.
43. Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
Sometimes, the low-fat, no-fat, and reduced-fat versions of certain products can actually be ten times worse than the original. Fat content doesn't necessarily indicate that a product is unhealthy, and when a new, reduced-fat version is made, they have to add ingredients to replace all of that fat. This can lead to highly artificial products that really shouldn't exist. When the natural fat is taken from peanut butter, it's typically replaced with sugar, salt, and oil to make up for the bland taste.
You're going to love our alternative to reduced-fat peanut butter. Just start eating the full-fat one instead! If you buy a peanut butter that is literally just blended up peanuts, the fat is all natural and not bad for you. As long as you don't eat an entire jar in one sitting, you're going to be fine.
44. Veggie Burgers
Going vegetarian doesn't always mean you're choosing the healthier option. Food manufacturers have really jumped on the opportunity to exploit the vegetarian market, and the result is a whole line of foods that are far worse for you than a bit of meat. So many veggie burgers are full of artificial flavoring, MSG-like ingredients such as disodium inosinate, and carcinogenic caramel coloring. Don't be fooled into thinking anything 'vegetarian' is healthy - you've still got to read the label and make sure it isn't going to do any harm to your body.
The great news for vegetarians is that there are plenty of healthy veggie burger options on the market (though they're probably not mass-produced and available in all supermarkets). Look for burgers that contain healthy ingredients such as chickpeas, quinoa, nuts, lentils, and actual veggies.
45. Cool Whip
We know you know that Cool Whip is definitely no health food. But did you know how seriously full of junk it is? For something that markets itself as a whipped cream, there is very little dairy, or, you know, actual cream involved. Some skim milk and light cream is about as 'natural' as it gets when you study the Cool Whip ingredients. When you really get down to it, this product is essentially water, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable oil, and a whole lot of additives.
One of the ingredients, sorbitan monostearate, has even been linked to enlarged kidneys in mice. There are plenty of alternatives to Cool Whip if you decide you don't want a giant kidney. You could use a dollop of creamy coconut yoghurt or Greek yoghurt, or even whip up some of your own fresh cream instead.
46. Nilla Wafers
Nilla Wafers are hardly a staple in anyone's diet, but that doesn't mean they're not super harmful on the rare occasions you do decide to go for it. The whole gang of terrible ingredients are here: soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated cottonseed oil, i.e. trans fats. You're basically looking at a cocktail of potential heart problems and more. We just can't think why you'd want to risk it all on a product like this!
We know everyone loves to make banana pudding with Nilla Wafers, but we're going to let you in on a little secret: you can use wafers that don't contain all of these harmful ingredients instead. As with all things, checking the label is crucial. Especially beware of any product that contains hydrogenated oils and large volumes of high fructose corn syrup.
47. Hot Pockets
All you have to do is look at the box and you've basically seen the picture of a future heart attack. The fact that anyone still eats these concoctions is truly baffling, especially given the main ingredient of "ham and water product" in the ham and cheese flavored Hot Pocket. In addition to the tempting "ham and water product" Hot Pockets contain carrageenan, mono and diglycerides, as well as some very questionable cheese ingredients. Basically, these things are just bad news.
If you want to stay alive and also enjoy having a mouth that isn't burnt on the inside, consider making a little panini for yourself instead. Homemade pizzas are another option if you're looking for the cured meat and melted cheese combo. Or you could try a sandwich. Or basically any snack that isn't a Hot Pocket. We know you'll thank us later.
48. Chips Ahoy! Cookies
Sorry to ruin yet another American favorite, everyone, but here we are again. This time the offender is Chips Ahoy! We knew those delicious choc-chip cookies tasted too good to be true. As it turns out, they're full of trans fats, which are so bad for your heart that you're pretty much asking for trouble if you continue to eat them. They also contain a lot of high fructose corn syrup and carcinogenic caramel color.
If you want to maintain a healthy body, cutting your Chips Ahoy! habit is a great idea. Your heart will repay you by not getting all clogged up and causing you a lot of pain and potential death. If you want to go really healthy, try snacking on cacao nibs. They're made of raw chocolate and can be bitter at first, but you'll get used to them.
49. Slim Jim
Beef jerky isn't always an unhealthy snack, but when it comes to brands like Slim Jim, it's better off avoided. Plenty of people turn to jerky as a high protein snack, but you're doing yourself a disservice if you buy Slim Jim! It's full of high fructose corn syrup, which actually contributes to weight gain and diabetes (we're guessing that's not the main goal for people on a high protein diet). It also contains the caramel color that has induced tumor growth in rats.
To summarize, this is a product you shouldn't be putting in your mouth regularly. If you care about your health, spend a little extra money on some high-quality jerky (remember to check the ingredients) and you definitely won't regret it. Peanut butter, boiled eggs, and grilled chicken or turkey also make great high protein snacks.
50. Granola Bars
Granola bars have slipped under the radar for decades, masquerading pretty successfully as a "health food." The reality couldn't be further from the truth and most people still don't know that granola bars are anything but healthy. Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, gluten, soybean oil, other unhealthy oils, and occasionally chocolate chips are just some of the main ingredients inside this popular snack.
BHT, which is a cancer-causing carcinogen, is also a common ingredient in granola bars. How can you steer clear of all this while still enjoying a similar kind of snack? Try nut-based bars with no sugar or other shady ingredients instead. Nuts, honey, and other healthy seeds, such as quinoa or flaxseed are good ingredients to look out for. If all else fails, enjoy a handful of almonds, cashews, or macadamia nuts.
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