That food you are craving for right now, is it healthy? How do you know some of the unhealthiest foods out there? Well, we crave for most of these unhealthiest foods that are on our list. Don’t beat yourself up for that. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with turning to these fat-filled junks once in a while. But that’s the problem; most times, it is not an action that yields the unwanted consequences we run away from. The real problem stems from not being able to balance it. The canned chicken noodle soup you can’t do without, the McDonalds chicken nuggets you buy during your office breaks, or that creamer adds to your coffee every morning – yea, they all taste good right? They do! But they’ll probably kill you too if you don’t stop consuming them.
I didn’t mean to scare you, but there are hundreds of healthy foods you can feed off, then you have no reason to continue feeding off these junk foods. So, what are the 14 unhealthiest foods to avoid? let me show you.
What makes food unhealthy?
Before we move on to the list of some of the unhealthiest foods out there, we need first to understand what makes food unhealthy? The most common unhealthy foods are highly processed ones such as snacks and fast foods. Unhealthy foods are low in nutrients and are high on empty calories, no thanks to the content of refined sugar, sodium, and flours.
According to heart.org, the ingredients and the preparation method of the food make it healthy or unhealthy. When a food contains sugar, fat, or sodium, one can tag that as “unhealthy food.” It is essential to take note of these ingredients (sodium, fat, and sugar) when shopping at the grocery store. AHA (American Heart Foundation) recommends keeping the trans-fat to less than 1 percent and consuming saturated fat below 7 percent.
Women should also avoid eating foods that contain a high level of added sugar and sodium. Women need to consume no more than 100 calories or six teaspoons of sugar daily for a healthy heart. Women are also smart to shy away from eating foods that are more 1500 milligrams of sodium daily.
14 unhealthiest foods to stay away from.
1. Fruit Juice.
Harmful ingredients: High-fructose corn syrup, Fiber-Less Fruit.
Placed beside soda, fruit juice is no saint. We usually assume that switching from soda to fruit juice is healthy. But in the real sense, that’s false. Juice contains Vitamin C and antioxidants, but those are not the scary part. Fruit juice also contains much sugar as Coke or Pepsi. Most of the drink’s sweetness comes from fructose, one of its unhealthy ingredients. According to Journal of Clinical Investigation, fructose is associated with visceral adipose tissue development, which can be found in obese patients – aka, belly fat.
Perfect Substitutes: Taking a glass of water won’t kill you if that’s not enough (which should), opt-in for fresh grapefruits and oranges.
2. Diet Soda.
Harmful Ingredients: Aspartame, Caramel Coloring, Bisphenol A (BPA).
After a stressful day, nothing is as refreshing as a can of soda – so you thought. What you are gulping down your throat is nothing but caramel coloring, aspartame, waist-widening fake sugar, flame retardants, artificial colors, and a host of other unhealthy ingredients that will affect your well-being in the long run. The artificial sweetener and aspartame were created to aid weight loss. Unfortunately, researches have shown that they have the opposite effect when consumed. It ultimately raises the glucose levels, stressing the liver, and converting the excess glucose to fat according to a report published on Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
Perfect Substitute: Reiteratively, opt for a glass of water.
3. Coffee Creamer.
Harmful ingredients: Canola oil and soybean
You saw that coming – right? But what’s wrong with coffee creamer? When you take a good look at the ingredients listed on Nestle’s Coffee-mate, you’ll find water, sugar, canola oil, and soybean. The question is – is that what you want to add to a cup of coffee?
Perfect substitute: Drink plain coffee. Rather than adding coffee creamer, why not opt-in for plain cow’s milk? Also, there are plant-based calories if you want a hint of sweetness.
4. Brown Rice.
Harmful Ingredients: Arsenic.
On the one hand, this staple food packs lots of benefits, including metabolism-boosting selenium, digestion-slowing fiber. On the flip side, there is one reason you might want to reconsider your food choices. According to the Food and Drug Administration, arsenic is showing up in brown rice – as alarming as that sounds, it doesn’t beat the fact that being exposed to arsenic for so long could lead to bladder, lung, and skin cancer, not to mention the role it plays in different heart diseases. Arsenic seeps into the visible part of the grain, that’s why it remains in brown rice but not in white rice.
Perfect Substitute: Medical professionals and dietitians believe that the arsenic levels in brown rice are alarming and a massive cause for concern, but also find that varying all starches and grains we consume will reduce its effect.
5. Bleached White Flour Bread.
Harmful Ingredient: Azodicarbonamide (A bleaching chemical)
Azodicarbonamide is not the only bleaching chemical you’ll find in a white flour bread. Eating a white flour bread sure gives you that nostalgic feeling. But should you think twice before eating a bleached white flour bread? Of course, you should. The problem with this type of bread goes beyond the side effects of the carbs present in it. What’s more troubling is the bleaching chemical used to turn the flour white. Azodicarbonamide is cited as carcinogenic (it is referred to as a substance that can cause cancer.
Perfect Substitute: Try Whole wheat or whole grain bread.
6. Sugary Cereals.
Harmful Ingredients: Refined Carbs, BHT/BHA, and Added Sugars.
The name should tell you a bit about its content. Sugary cereals and donuts are similar. Eating Cinnamon Toast crunch or fruity pebbles are unhealthy. Sugary cereals also contain butylated hydroxyanisole. Butylated hydroxytoluene is banned in most regions as they are considered carcinogenic. You should stay away from foods that contain ingredients banned in different countries – nothing screams “don’t eat me” than that.
Perfect Substitute: Try Oatmeal with Maple Syrup, honey, or fresh berries.
7. Canned Frosting.
Harmful Ingredients: Propylene Glycol, Artificial Coloring, and Soybean Oil.
Nothing screams, “I’m harmful to you” than food that contains “Artificial coloring.” As with many foods sold in grocery stores, there are tons of unhealthy added ingredients in the frosting. What do we know about Propylene glycol? We know that when humans ingest food containing propylene glycol, 40% of it is excreted by the kidneys’ unchanged’ while the rest is broken down into lactic acid. Consuming that in large quantities can lead to kidney failure or acidosis.
Perfect Substitute: Try DIY frosting.
8. Deep Fry Foods.
Harmful Ingredient: Inflammatory oil.
That ‘well-fried’ chicken, chicken-fried steak, and pork rinds are unhealthy. Sure, they do look attractive. Who doesn’t want a bite of that fried chicken? But, it is not one of the meals you’d add to a list of healthy foods. The main problem with these deep-fried foods is that they contain a considerable AGE (Advanced Glycation End Products). AGE is formed when animal-derived products are prepared with high heat for an extended period. Advances in Nutrition published a journal back in 2015, stating that exposure to Advanced Glycation End Products gradually erodes our immune system, leading to diseases’ precursors via oxidative stress and inflammation.
Perfect Substitute: Bake or grill your foods. This way, you can cut down on high-AGE foods.
9. White Sugar.
Harmful Ingredients: Sugar (pfft)
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the one ingredient that has been linked to increased heart diseases, risk of type 2 diabetes, and obesity. A report was published on the National Sugar Development Council suggesting that Nigerians aren’t consuming too much sugar. But I’d want to take that with a pinch of salt. Back in 2014, it was recorded that Americans ate more than 90 grams of added sugar. This is 40 grams more than it’s FDA’s recommended daily intake of 50. Generally speaking, The World Health Organization recommends an intake of 25 grams.
Perfect Substitute: There is no substitute. I’d recommend reducing your intake of added sweeteners. That’s all you need to do.
10. Bottled Smoothies.
Harmful Ingredients: Fiber- less Fruit.
Grab-and-go breakfasts are often referred to as the practical option for every person with daily busy mornings. Speaking of practical breakfast options for people going through that early morning rush hour, a ‘bottled – smoothie’ seems like one of the best options. A store-bought smoothie looks like a measured substance aimed at quenching that early morning craving. Unfortunately, this timesaving drink has its downside. A bottled smoothie falls short on the significant Nutrition. Instead, they are filled with calories and sugar, enough content to increase your blood sugar dramatically.
Perfect Substitute: Blend up homemade smoothies by using some of the healthy fruits on this list. =
11. Sugar-Free Chocolate.
Harmful Ingredients: Sucralose and maltitol.
They say chocolate is a girl’s best friend – yea, but make sure you eat it in moderation. It is not a crime to crunch on chocolate once in a while. But avoid sugar-free sweets. Some chocolate manufacturers add sugar alcohols like maltitol and Splenda as artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners have a laxative effect when eaten in excess.
Perfect Substitute: A better treat would be dark chocolates (cocoa and dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.
12. Frozen Pizza.
Harmful Ingredients: High Sodium and Food Additives.
After coming home from work, you’re tired. You get a frozen pizza, throw it in the oven, and dinner is ready in a few minutes. But you know what they say about ‘fast foods,’ right? Red Baron’s Classic 4-Cheese pizza contains 720 milligrams of sodium per serving. Now, do you want to have that in your body? Not! Lets put it in perspective, the daily recommended amount of sodium per day is 1 500 milligrams. That means you’ve consumed nearly half of your daily sodium intake in one meal.
Whatever you choose to do, don’t eat frozen pizza and avoid junk foods. Its one of the three meals to never eat, and my list of unhealthiest foods won’t be complete if I don’t throw in frozen pizza.
Perfect Substitute: Make your pizza.
13. Fruit Cocktail.
Harmful Ingredients: High Fructose corn syrup.
Nothing comes close to an oversized margarita than a fruit cocktail. Don’t let the absence of alcohol fool you. Fruit cocktail contains a high fructose corn syrup. Being fiber-less fruits may even make things worse. Research shows that the BPA used to package all kinds of fruit cocktail has been linked to obesity and endocrine issues.
Perfect Substitute: Fruit! Fruit!! Fruit!!! Keep it simple. Just eat Fruit instead.
14. Chewing Gum.
Harmful Ingredients: Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Alcohols.
This one hits hard. We only chew on gum; we don’t swallow it, right? Well, that’s true, but not totally. Although the major part of the gum is indigestible, some of its ingredients are. For instance, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are digestible. And what do we know about sugar alcohols? They are known to cause constipation, hemorrhoids, anal fistulas, bloating, and other gastrointestinal disorders. When you ingest these sweeteners, you consume additives that trigger your sweet receptors while revving hunger – it will always leave you hungry. Its no doubt one of the unhealthiest foods to stay away from.
Perfect Substitute: These are waist-widening foods. Rather than ingesting these unhealthy sugar and salt, enjoy locally made peanut butter instead.
How can I avoid unhealthy food?
- If you can’t avoid these unhealthiest foods altogether, make sure you choose carefully.
- Read food labels before consuming their content. Always look out for foods that contain excess sodium, fat, and added sugar.
- Opt-in for lean meat that has less than 10 percent fat.
- Never skip meals.
- Part of the reasons why you end eating junk food is unpreparedness – learn to plan your meals.
There you have it. These are the unhealthiest foods you need to stay away from right NOW!