This post was contributed by a community member.
We all love to indulge in a guilty food pleasure once in a while. In all honesty, probably more than once in a while. But while some foods like a flourless chocolate cake are well worth the splurge, others are not. We’ve put together a list of 10 foods scientifically proven to harm your health. Make your splurge foods count, but please avoid these baddies going forward.
As we’ve mentioned before, “fat is very likely the most understood of the macronutrients.” Margarine, a lab-created vegetable oil–based butter substitute, used to be touted as healthier than butter since it lacked the animal fat associated with bad cholesterol. But lots of margarine products contain trans fat—the worst fat of them all.
Like saturated fat, trans fat increases blood cholesterol levels and your risk of heart disease. But that’s not all. Trans fat lowers your HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels. Rule of thumb for margarine is as follows: The more solid the margarine, the more trans fat it has. We recommend backing away from the margarine altogether and opting for real butter when said ingredient is a must.
We love the nutritional benefits of fish, but unfortunately, farmed fish lack a significant amount of the nutritional benefits that we associate with wild catch. The difference in nutritional value is due to their food source. While wild fish consume their omega-3s from aquatic plants, farmed fish are fed with a high-corn diet. This causes farmed fish to accumulate unhealthy levels of the fatty acids (which you can see in the thicker fat deposits of a salmon filet, for example).
Additionally, farmed fish are often given antibiotics, which can cause humans who eat farmed fish to develop antibiotic-resistant disease. Then there are the ethical questions to think about in terms of farm fishing. Farmed fish are subjected to the routine stresses of hyper-confinement and are typically killed in slow, painful ways.
This applies to processed meats in the United States more than anywhere else. In America, deli counter meats like ham, salami, hot dogs, and bacon aren’t just packed with artery-clogging fats. According to the US National Library of Medicine, they can have up to 400% more sodium and 50% more preservatives than unprocessed red meats. Environmental Working Group shares even more terrifying findings: Some deli meats contain nitrites and nitrates to enhance the color and flavor of the meat, and these chemical additives have been linked to various cancers. Alternatively, go for a fresh cut of New York steak, or if you’re craving that salty taste of cured meat, opt for lox.
New York–based dietitian and Living a Real Life With Real Food author Beth Warren tells Cosmopolitan, “The realist is that American cheese is not ‘cheese’ at all. It’s a factory creation of a cheese-like food made from a blend of milk fats, solids, some whey protein, emulsifiers, and food coloring.” Does that sound like a healthy mix of natural food to ingest into your body? No, it doesn’t. We suggest cutting the orange block of mystery substance out of your diet and opting for a healthier cheese option, like Pecorino Romano, ricotta, or aged cheddar. Unlike American cheese, aged cheddar offers a more natural combination of ingredients and, according to Jim White, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it contains relatively low levels of lactose.
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