You may think you’re making healthy choices, but unhealthy foods have a way of sneaking into even the best-laid diets. Is your healthy diet actually actually an unhealthy one? Here’s a list of ten unhealthy foods to avoid like the plague.
1. Canned Tomatoes
Tomatoes are healthy so canned tomatoes must be too, right? Not so fast. Tin cans have resin linings which contain a synthetic estrogen called bisphenol-A (commonly referred to as BPA). There seems to be a connection between BPA and a whole slew of issues like reproductive problems, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The acidity from the tomatoes brings the BPA into your food, which is not good. You’re better off getting tomatoes in glass jars or using pasta sauce instead.
2. Maraschino Cherries
Sure, it started as a fruit – but a maraschino cherry is filled with sugar, processed and infused with artificial colors like red-40 and red-3 dyes before it makes its way to your banana split. Skip the fake stuff and opt for a plain cherry instead.
Eating fish is a good thing, right? Fish is a great source of healthy omega 3s, so how can you go wrong? It turns out fish is only healthy for you when you’re choosing the right kind of fish. Swordfish is definitely not the right kind of fish. The mercury levels in swordfish are high enough to make it dangerous for anyone to consume, but especially women who are or will become pregnant. Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that has been linked to birth defects and heart attacks. Steer clear of swordfish and opt for wild-caught Alaskan salmon instead.
4. Fruit Juice
Drinking a glass of orange juice is like eating four medium oranges in one sitting. This may sound like a good thing, but our bodies were not designed to process that much fructose at once. Your glucose levels quickly rise and then immediately drop, causing hypoglycemia. An occasional glass of fresh-squeezed OJ is not a problem, but fruit juice is definitely not something that belongs on the menu every day.
5. Energy Bars
If the first ingredient on your energy bar is sugar, go ahead and stop referring to it as an energy bar – it’s a candy bar in disguise. Don’t be fooled just because some vitamins or fiber were added, it's loaded with sugar and empty calories. Grab a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts instead.
6. Stick Margarine
For years, we were told that margarine is best, but here’s the thing: most stick butter contains high quantities of trans fat. Remember how there’s good fat and bad fat? Trans fat is definitely bad fat. It can increase bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol, and lead to clotting and damaged blood vessels. Most stick margarine is also high in calories, so you’re doing your diet no favors by including it. Opt for whipped butter instead.
Bagels have a high glycemic index, which can increase insulin and inflammation in the body. This may lead to acne, rosacea or even accelerated aging. If you can’t resist, eat only half – a full bagel usual contains two to three servings of carbs.
8. Veggie Chips
If you’re making your own vegetable chips, this can be a healthy option. If you’re picking them up from the store, though, be warned. Many packaged veggie chip brands claim to be loaded with veggies but in fact are loaded with potato starch or corn flour – and maybe a little vegetable powder for color. Make your own or look for a brand that lists kale, broccoli or Brussels sprouts as the first ingredient on the list.
Cereals can be deceptive because even those marketed as “healthy” often are not. Cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios and Raisin Bran are just as loaded with sugar as Fruity Pebbles. Synthetic ingredients are often added to cereal to make up for everything that’s taken out during processing. You’re better off opting for oatmeal or eggs to start your day.
10. Prepared Salads
“Salad” is one of those words – our brain sees it and assumes we’ll be getting something healthy. If you’re ordering a prepared chicken or tuna salad, expect a not-so-healthy dose of hidden fat on the side. A lot of restaurant dressings contain mayonnaise, and all those extra toppings like cheese and nuts add up. Order an overstuffed tuna sandwich and you may be looking at 700 calories and 40 grams of fat. Making your own salad for an easy way to save calories.