Facts File

Avoid These Foods If You Want to Live a Healthier, Happier Life

What You Need to Know

We've collected this information to help you make better food choices. We aren't telling you that you must cut these out of your diet completely (although that wouldn't be a bad idea), but rather, it's best to avoid eating/drinking these items on a daily basis. The reason is simple, these foods have been found to have a derogatory effect on our health when eaten regularly or in large quantities. Read on to learn more.

Instant Noodles

This college staple contains ingredients like MSG that can trigger food cravings and painful migraines. University researchers found that eating instant noodles more than once a week increases your risk of cardiometabolic syndrome, raising the likelihood of developing heart disease and other conditions, such as diabetes and stroke. Better to grab a whole-grain sandwich with a freshly prepared filling.

Non-Dairy Coffee Creamer

While coffee has certain health benefits, non-dairy creamer does not. Fake creamers are filled with artificial ingredients, liver-damaging high-fructose corn syrup, inflammatory hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. Take it black or add milk.

Diet Soda

According to a report in "Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism" diet soda is not only linked to weight gain, but diet soda drinkers who maintained a healthy weight range still had a significantly increased risk of the top three killers in the United States: diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Butter-Flavored Microwave Popcorn

Diacetyl is used in many fake butter flavorings despite the fact that the chemical is known to be harmful to factory workers. Unfortunately, it's not disclosed on microwave-popcorn bags because flavoring formulations are trade secrets. It's worth the effort to make your own popcorn with butter.

Grape Jelly

Unfortunately today's ordinary grape jelly is so highly processed that it is basically jelly-textured candy loaded with various forms of sugar, artificial colors, and flavors. Substitute real fruit or raw honey in your peanut butter sandwiches.

Canned Tomatoes

BPA is a chemical used to coat the lining of cans and most plastic product and it isn't good for us. As tomatoes are highly acidic, it draws out more of the BPA into the food from the lining. So, canned tomatoes have an especially high risk of leaching BPA into the tomatoes because of the acidity. So buy your tomato sauce in jars.

Margarine

Margarine is a highly processed food that was invented to replace butter. The primary ingredient is vegetable oil along with emulsifiers, colorants and various artificial ingredients. Margarine is often hydrogenated, which gives it a harder consistency and extends shelf life. Hydrogenation also turns some of the vegetable oils into trans fats which are highly toxic and strongly associated with heart disease.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners actually come with a list of side effects, much like a drug. The side effects could include some really severe conditions, such as depression, insomnia, blindness, tinnitus, hives, and a contributing factor to things like Alzheimer's and MS.

Fast Food

Fast food is a hot mess of genetically engineered corn, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, and other bad-for-you ingredients. Need a quick meal? An all-natural spread on whole grain with freshly sliced veggies. Enjoy.

Undercooked Meat/Poultry

It's not only unappetizing but eating undercooked or raw meat/poultry increases your risk of contracting salmonella. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea and begin within 12 to 72 hours of consuming contaminated food.

Table Salt

The typical modern, refined table salt can be compared to refined sugar or refined flour--it starts out whole, but our industrial food system processes out the good and injects it with additives and anti-clumping properties.

Sugary Breakfast Cereals

There is no beating around the bush, sugar destroys your health, and many cereals pack more sugar into one bowl than you'll find in a Boston Cream Donut. Additionally, many popular brands such as Frosted Flakes, Fruity Pebbles, and Honey Smacks contain Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) or BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), ingredients that are banned in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and much of Europe because they are suspected of being carcinogenic.

Packaged Cookies

While packaged cookies might satisfy your cravings for a quick pick-me-up, they are packed with a huge amount of calories, fat, sugar, and loads of harmful additives. Pack nuts instead and reach for them when you get the munchies.

Corn Chips

The more flavoring a chip has, the more MSG and other artificial ingredients it most likely contains. According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, sensitivity to MSG builds up in our bodies until we reach what he terms our "threshold of sensitivity." Bottom line, they aren't worth the cost to our health.

Cake Frosting

Although it looks and tastes delicious, frosting contains no redeeming health features, unfortunately. It is full of calories and saturated fat. Eating frosting regularly can lead to a host of health issues including, but not limited to, diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, liver dysfunction, cavities and tooth decay.

Shrimp

Most shrimp are imported from countries that have no restrictions on traces of illegal contaminants, such as dioxins, PCBs, and other banned chemicals, or on pumping them full of hormones and antibiotics. And with 152 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving of shrimp, just two servings would put you over the daily recommended allowance of 300 milligrams of cholesterol.

SwordFish

Swordfish have been found to contain the highest levels of mercury found in any of the larger edible fish. The FDA recommends that pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and young children avoid eating swordfish because of the high levels of methyl mercury, a potent neurotoxin.

Instant Pancake Mix

What could be wrong with packaged pancake mix? Well how about these ingredients: artery-clogging trans fat in the form of partially hydrogenated oil which is linked to fatal heart attacks; sodium aluminum phosphate, which has been linked to Alzheimer's, and sodium caseinate which is similar to monosodium glutamate in the adverse effects it can have on brain health. And that doesn't include the artificial colors that some brands contain.

Ready Made Dressings

It's America's favorite dressing and dipping sauce, but ever wonder why you can't get enough of it, and why it makes so many things taste better? It's all those additives including Maltodextrin, Modified Food Starch, and other artificial flavors and sweeteners.

Salty Snacks

Relying on a diet of salty foods, such as fast food, potato chips, pretzels and canned foods, can significantly increase blood pressure levels and your risk for heart disease.

Deli Meats

Processed meats have been linked to increased risk of cancers, diabetes and heart disease. The World Health Organization research agency has classified processed meat -- like salami -- as carcinogenic. It also found that eating 50 grams daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent. If you're short on time, buy a roasted chicken from the supermarket, then slice and sandwich.

Bacon

The amount of cholesterol in many pork items makes them something to avoid. While ribs have a higher cholesterol count than pork chops, one strip of bacon can have 13mg of cholesterol, not to mention plenty of saturated fat and calories.

Doughnuts

donuts

Bad news for doughnut lovers: while a small bag of chips has about 260 calories, and a small bag of cookies can have 200 calories each, a single doughnut can easily contain more than 300 calories. Add to that lots of sugar, fats and other unhealthy ingredients, and you're holding a little bundle of trouble.

Whipped Cream

whipped cream

Yes, it melts on your tongue and tastes divine but did you know that a single tablespoon of whipping cream has more than 50 calories and 5.5 grams of fat of which 3.4 grams are saturated fat, which is a hazard for your heart health. 'Nuff said.

Energy Drinks

energy drinks

Energy drinks are designed to increase energy and mental performance due to their combination of caffeine, sugar, vitamins, amino acid derivatives and herbal extracts. Unfortunately, there are downsides such as heart attacks, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, Type 2 diabetes, nausea, high blood pressure and addiction. Sounds like a good nap is a much better solution.

Cheese Puffs

cheese puffs

These orange, puffy snacks might melt in your mouth but beware, they stick to your waistline. What's more, they are doused with MSG, which has been shown to increase appetite and make you eat even more. Substitute yellow cheese on whole grain crackers instead.

Packaged Macaroni and Cheese

macaroni and cheese

Researchers from an independent lab found that 29 different macaroni and cheese packages contained chemicals called phthalates, man-made substances, that have been shown to interfere with human hormones. The highest levels were found in the cheesy powder used to make the sauce for boxed macaroni and cheese. The FDA says it's unclear what effect, if any, phthalates have on people. However, there have been numerous human studies linking fetal and childhood exposure to these chemicals with a host of behavioral and brain development issues, including lower IQ, attention problems, hyperactivity, and poorer social communication skills.

Candied Fruit

dried fruit

Candied fruit is coated with sugar or syrup before being dried making it high in calories and sugar. Common dried fruits contain 38-66% sugar, and eating too much of them may contribute to weight gain and various health problems. They also contain sulfites, which are used to keep prepared foods fresh but could cause allergic reactions. Additionally, many dried fruits are coated in inflammatory vegetable oils, adding unnecessary additional calories and fat.

Candy

Candy

You already knew all the artery-clogging fats and addicting sugars in candy weren't doing you or your family any good, but you probably don't know that certain candies can make it more difficult for children to concentrate. A few years ago, researchers discovered that the artificial colors, Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6 (found in M&Ms), promote Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in children, according to a study in the journal The Lancet. In fact, Norway and Sweden have already banned the use of these artificial colors.

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