Most people I meet think that they’re pretty healthy. But when I probe a little deeper into their diets, I quickly find out that they are eating a lot of health foods you should never eat. I can’t blame them.
With all of the confusion surrounding labeling and advertising, buzzwords like “sugar-free,” “all-natural” and even “organic” can be really confusing.
To makes things a little easier for you, here’s a list of the top health foods you should never eat. Many of these aren’t really health foods at all.
Factory Farmed Meat
Shady Coffee Drinks
Canned Green Beans
Fruit juice is just as dangerous as soda, or nearly as bad, when you’re drinking it in abundance. Think of it in this way:
When you sit down to drink an 8-ounce glass of orange juice, you’re consuming the juice of four medium-sized oranges in literally seconds — or a few minutes at the most. Compare this to how long it would take to eat four oranges, and you can quickly see how eating fruit in its whole form is best. (Thanks, in large part, to all of that wholesome fiber.)
Fruit juice is so dangerously largely due to the fructose factor. In June 2014, a study published in the journal Nutrition found that the average fruit juice’s fructose concentration is 45.5 grams per liter. For soda, it’s 50 grams. Our bodies aren’t designed to deal with that type of fructose overload. While glucose serves as a fuel for our body, fructose is processed almost exclusively in the liver, where it’s converted to fat.
Contrary to popular belief, soy products are not healthy for you; at least, that is, unfermented soy. Fermented soy is one thing. But eating edamame, soy milk and soy protein is quite another.
Most soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified to withstand applications of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup. A recent Norwegian study found “extreme” levels of glyphosate in U.S. soy, meaning we’re eating weedkiller when we eat non-organic soy. That’s a problem, given that glyphosate is linked to many health problems, including human cell death.
It’s generally accepted that long-term use of soy dietary supplements like soy protein is unsafe because it has been linked to the following:
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- Breast cancer
- Cystic fibrosis
- Endometrial cancer
- Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid)
- Kidney disease
- Urinary bladder cancer
All of these reasons are great reasons why soy is definitely one of the health foods you should never eat.
Sugar alcohols are commonly found in sugar-free gum and sugar-free baked goods and sugar replacements.
Xylitol is one of the most popular forms. Others include: erythritol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol. While often marketed as natural, these sweeteners undergo intense processing and are often derived from GMO ingredients like corn. Some of these products are also linked to allergic reactions, headaches, SIBO symptoms, rashes, gas and bloated.
‘Atlantic’ Salmon + Other Farmed Fish
Another health food you should never eat: Farmed fish. I’ve written extensively on farmed fish.In fact, eating tilapia is worse than eating bacon in some ways. Be sure to avoid farmed salmon, too. It’s often called ‘Atlantic’ salmon or just salmon.
Here are a other reasons inflammation-boosting farmed salmon needs to be a fish you should never eat:
- An October 2016 study found omega-3 levels in farmed salmon are rapidly dropping and are half of what they were five years ago. Part of the reason for the nutrient loss is salmon farm feed contains less ground anchovy content.
- University of New York at Albany researchers found dioxin levels in farm-raised salmon to be 11 times higher than those in wild salmon. The environmental pollutants are linked to cancer, organ damage and immune system dysfunction.
- A 2011 study published in PLoS One found mice-eating farmed salmon actually showed weight gain and an increased risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes symptoms. The risk comes from the persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, that tend to be high in farmed salmon.
- A 2011 Food and Water Watch aquaculture report highlighted some concerning statistics. Hundreds of thousands of farmed fish escape into the wild. These fish are often carrying “super lice” parasitic hitchhikers that even the harshest chemicals no longer kill. Some even carry other diseases that can debilitate nearby wild fish populations. Farmed salmon have also been treated with banned pesticides, another serious toxicity concern.
- It takes about 2½ to 4 pounds of other fish to create the salmon chow needed to produce 1 pound of farm-raised salmon. The overfishing of wild sardines, anchovies, mackerel, herring and other fish upset natural ecosystems.
- In November 2015, the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of genetically engineered salmon and will not require any labeling, leaving consumers in the dark. It was approved despite findings the GMO salmon doesn’t actually grow as fast as its creator claims.
Another one of my top “health” foods you should never eat is microwave popcorn. Filled with questionable ingredients, it is just not worth the convenience.
The main problem? The microwavable bags are coated with nonstick perfluorochemicals like perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), chemical that is liked to cancer.
Another major concern is diacetyl. This fake butter flavoring compound actually causes serious lung disease when inhaled in large quantities.
Factory Farmed Meat
Essentially, you are what they eat, and if the livestock that you’re grilling up for supper is fed hormones, drugs and an unnatural diet grown using chemical pesticides and fertilizers, well, that’s not good news for you, either.
Here Are Concerning Findings:
- A 2012 study looking at feather testing detected banned antibiotics, allergy medications, painkillers and even depression meds like Prozac in chickens.
- Feeding poultry arsenic has resulted in higher levels of toxic arsenic in humans.
- About 30 million pounds of antibiotics are sold for use in farm animals annually.
You’d think that the “margarine myth” would have been put to bed years ago, but many people are still using it.
The initial idea was that margarine was lower in saturated fats than butter, so it would protect heart health. But we now know that’s not true.
Sadly, trans fats were the original fats used in margarines. This is tragic, given that today, we now know trans fats are responsible for about 50,000 fatal heart attacks a year. Trans fat also increases someone’s risk of developing type II diabetes and several other severe health problems.
While trans fats have since been removed from most margarines, it’s important to note that most contain industrial, highly processed fats that would never be found in nature.
Shrimp contains 4-hexylresorcinol, a food additive used to prevent discoloration in shrimp.
Here Are Just A Few Of The Health Reasons I Don’t Eat It:
- This additive has estrogen-like effects that could reduce sperm count in men and increase breast cancer risk in women.
- Shrimp farm pond waters are often treated with neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides linked to symptoms of ADHD, memory loss and tremors. Malachite green, a potential carcinogen, is often used to kill fungus on shrimp eggs. Once it has been used, malachite green will stay in the flesh of shrimp for a very long time – more than 200 days in water that is 50 degrees F.
- Food and Water Watch notes that rotenone is a chemical used to kill off fish living in the pond before it’s stocked with young shrimp. If inhaled, it can cause respiratory paralysis. Studies have also linked rotenone to Parkinson’s symptoms in mice.
- Shrimp farm ponds are often shocked with organotin compounds to kill mollusks before stocking with shrimp. These hormone-disrupting chemicals mimic estrogen and have been dubbed “obesogens.” That mean they mess with the hormonal system in a way that predisposes someone to obesity, regardless of what they eat.
- Oceana found 25 percent of shrimp samples labeled as wild or presumed to be wild (often called “Gulf”) were actually farm-raised shrimp.
Vegetable oils also fall onto the “health” foods you should never eat list. Hand-in-hand with margarine, vegetable oils like canola oil are highly inflammatory and not healthy by any stretch of the imagination.
They are usually genetically modified, are partially hydrogenated and have been linked to:
- Birth defects
- Bone and tendon problems
- Digestive disorders
- Heart disease
- Immune system impairment
- High cholesterol
- Learning disabilities
- Liver problems
- Low birth weights
- Reduced growth
- Sexual dysfunction
- Skin reactions
- Vision reduction
Standard table salt definitely makes my list of top health foods you should never eat.Pretty much everyone has heard that white table salt causes hypertension, yet that hasn’t stopped more than 95 percent of restaurants in the nation from stocking it on every table and food bar.
Originally produced from mined salt, refined table salt technically starts as a “real” food then quickly becomes fake. Manufacturers use harvesting methods that strip it of all its naturally-occurring minerals and then use a number of additives to dry it and heat it to temperatures of about 1,200 degrees.
Because it was destroyed, the naturally occurring iodine is then replaced with potassium iodide in potentially toxic amounts. The salt is then stabilized with dextrose, which turns it purple. Finally it is bleached white.
Being “artificial,” you’d think fake sweeteners would be used cautiously by people. Unfortunately, many doctors recommend them because they are supposedly safe for diabetics because they are low on the glycemic index.
Ironically, new research has shown that artificial sweeteners causes a disturbance in gut flora and can actually cause diabetes.
Adding Insult To Injury, Sugar Substitutes Have Been Clinically Linked To:
- Bladder cancer
- Brain tumors
- Breast cancer
- Weight gain/obesity
Fat-Free & Low-Fat Milk
It’s time to stop being afraid of full-fat dairy. A 2016 study published in The American Journal of Nutrition makes a strong case for eating it instead of its low-fat dairy counterparts.
Researchers studied more than 18,000 women and found the ones who consumed more full-fat dairy were 8 percent less likely to be overweight or obese compared to the low-fat dairy group.
One theory is that eating full-fat dairy helps people feel fuller longer. Aside from that, low-fat and fat-free dairy products are often laden with added sugar, a potent risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
Also, be sure to always choose organic milk. Research shows organic milk has a much healthier fat profile. In a 2013 Washington State University study looking at 400 samples, conventional milk had an average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 5.8, more than twice that of organic milk’s ratio of 2.3. The researchers say the far healthier ratio of fatty acids in organic milk is brought about by a greater reliance on pasture and forage-based feeds on organic dairy farms.
I also recommend choosing raw milk. That’s because when raw milk is pasteurized, it also loses a lot of its nutritional content. Because the enzyme lactase is destroyed in the heating process, people cannot properly digest the milk sugar, lactose.
Swai fish is popping up as a trendy menu item all over the country, but I’m begging you, don’t be tricked.
This “river catfish” is most often raised in Vietnamese ponds with truly abysmal track records. Also called tra, basa, striped pangasius and sutchi, this fish only costs about $2 a pound but comes with a hefty price tag.
A 2016 study found 70 to 80 percent of pangasius samples were contaminated by Vibriobacteria — the microbes behind most cases of shellfish poisoning. In August 2016, the U.S. reportedly turned away 40,000 pounds of swai due to contamination issues. This includes fish testing positive for malachite green, a carcinogenic veterinary drug used to treat sick fish.
Swai is also implicated in widespread seafood fraud. In 2015, a Virginia seafood importer was sentenced to prison for importing $15.5 million worth of pangasius “catfish” and marketing it as sole, grouper, flounder, snakehead and other fish.
Seitan seems like a health food and an amazing meat replacement — until you realize it’s basically a loaf of vital wheat gluten.
It’s such a gluten-heavy food with potential to increase gluten allergies and gluten intolerance symptoms, I simply can’t recommend it. Add to that the fact that it’s not a complete protein and it’s very high in sodium, and it’s clear it’s a health food to avoid. Just a half cup of one pre-made seitan contains 576 milligrams of sodium.
Shady Coffee Drinks
The benefits of drinking coffee are real. In fact, researchers are even finding it can protect against liver cirrhosis and help people live longer after liver transplants.
Incredible benefits are wiped out when you add other coffee ingredients into the mix. I’m talking about excessive sugar found in popular lattes. Did you know a typical 16-ounce pumpkin spiced latte contains a whopping 50 grams of sugar. All of that sugar, particularly high-fructose corn syrup, is hammering our livers and even contributing to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Not to mention coffee drinks often contain gut-damaging carrageenan in whipped cream.
Agave nectar is on almost every health food shelf in America. But it’s anything but healthy.
Agave has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener on the market. Any cell in the body can metabolize glucose, however the only organ that can metabolize fructose in large quantities is the liver.
With our type of diet if we eat large amounts of fructose it damages our metabolic health badly. Fructose can cause insulin resistance if consumed in large quantities. Insulin resistance can lead to high sugar, and increase the risk of metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes.
Agave honey has 85% fructose, which is a much higher amount than table sugar. And just remember, fructose is hard on the liver and puts our body into fat storage mode.
All meats have amino acids, including creatine and sugars. Cooking them at very high temperatures produces molecules called heterocyclic amines (HCAs), though.
These are carcinogenic, toxic compounds also found in cigarette smoke. Well-done meat contains 3.5 times more HCA than medium-rare meat.
Using thicker, store-bought marinades containing sweeteners like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or even honey makes charring more likely, possibly increasing exposure to carcinogens.
Garcinia cambogia is a tempting ingredient because it very well may help people lose weight quickly. But the side effects are so serious I had to put it on the foods you should never eat list.
This pumpkin-shaped fruit is popular in weight-loss supplements. It is suitable for consumption and has no disadvantages unless you suffer from an illness, in which case you should monitor the type of food that suits you. But, in general, if you eat the fruit you will not feel any contraindication.
Only its flavor. On the other hand, if you take it in capsules, the extract has a higher concentration of hydroxycitric acid, so you must take it into account. In these cases, some of the symptoms described with side effects of garcinia cambogia may appear. You may notice an upset stomach or show an allergic picture if you are sensitive to one of its components.
When it comes to strawberries, always choose organic. Nonorganic strawberries rank #1 on the dirty dozen list, according to Environmental Working Group.
Strawberries tested by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2009 and 2014 contained an average of 5.75 different pesticides per sample. (That’s even after they are washed.) It’s also important to note that nonorganic strawberry fields are often fumigated with toxic gases that were initially developed for chemical warfare. I think we need to ask ourselves why these chemicals are in the food system. And if we’re willing to feed our families food grown in this type of a system.
Canned Green Beans
Canned green beans are consistently contaminated with some of the most dangerous pesticides, according to Consumer Reports.
In fact, eating just one serving of U.S.-grown green beans a day is “high risk,” due to the toxicity of the pesticides typically used on that crop.Because those chemicals tend to be far more toxic than others, Consumer Reports notes that eating one serving of green beans from the U.S. is 200 times riskier than eating a serving of U.S.-grown broccoli.
Aside from that, canned green beans contain bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen. These BPA toxic effects include hormone imbalance, male and female infertility, PCOS and breast and prostate cancer, among other ills.
All-American Pancake Breakfast
Pancakes seem innocent enough. But when you look at the standard pancake mix at the grocery store (or in the back kitchen of a diner), you’d be appalled.
Inflammatory hydrogenated oils and trans fats are still in some of the most popular pancake mixes in America. Add to that that most syrups are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, and it’s clear this breakfast needs a revamp.
- Pumpkin Blueberry Pancakes
- Coconut Flour Pancakes
- Paleo Bone Broth Protein Pancakes
Final Thoughts On Health Foods You Should Never Eat
- You are what you eat. Choose food sources that are less processed.
- Get to know your local farmers and support grass-fed, organic operations.
- The more you choose to take in only food and beverages that bring life to your body, then the more you will enjoy life.