Everyday we are told of the various health risks we take when we eat a packet of chips, a burger or a pizza. Drinking soda and alcohol are also harmful to our health. But there are also various toxic foods under the disguise of “healthy” that we eat regularly. Here are the top 10 things we eat that are actually doing more harm than good:
1. Fruit Juice
Yes, you read it right! Fruit juice. However, fruit juice can be just as harmful as any other soda. How, you may ask? Well, imagine yourself drinking four medium-sized oranges (which you would normally first peel, then separate, then eat, wedge by wedge) in one sitting. One sitting! That’s what you’re doing when you drink an 8-ounce (roughly around 250 ml) glass of orange juice in less than two-three minutes. See the difference? Also, when you drink fruit juice in place of actually eating the fruit, you lose out on a good dose of fiber–which is necessary for cleaning your stomach and making sure you’re going to the bathroom every morning. Fruit juice also has an alarmingly large amount of fructose- the naturally present sugar in all fruits. A litre of fruit juice has roughly around 45.5 grams of fructose–and it is 50 grams for a litre of soda–which our bodies are simply not designed to handle.
2. Microwave Popcorn
There have been lots of studies and surveys proving how good popcorn is for you, and I’m not contesting that. The problem is the kind of packaging microwave popcorn comes in, and the amount of processing the kernels have to undergo in order to be microwaveable in the first place. The microwaveable bags are coated with nonstick perfluorochemicals such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical that has been linked to cancer multiple times. Another problematic ingredient is diacetyl, which is used to produce the fake butter flavouring that the kernels are coated in. Inhaling (and even worse, consuming) this ingredient in large amounts has been linked to serious lung diseases. A safer option for popcorn is buying organic kernels yourself from your local grocer. Heat about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan, and pop the kernels in. Wait for them to pop while covered, while making sure to leave some space open so as to not burn the kernels. Season as desired, and you’re good to go!
3. Factory-farmed meat
You must have heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat.’ Well, when it comes to meat and meat byproducts, you are what the animals eat, and if the meat that you’ve tastefully marinated the entire day has been fed with drugs, hormones, and unnatural dietary supplements, then that’s not exactly good news for you. Multiple cases have been made over the years which have proven the presence of incredibly harmful substances such as arsenic (which can cause cancer in the skin, lungs, kidney and bladder and also cause unnatural thickening of skin and hyperpigmentation) in poultry, leading to it being found in human bodies as well. About 30 million pounds of antibiotic treatments are sold to meat factories to be used for animals annually. For the best and safest option when it comes to meat, you can opt for sourcing it from your local food ranchers and rotisseries. Ask them how they are taking care of the meat, and whether the drugs they use are implemented only in extreme circumstances (such as when the animal is sick or dying).
4. Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oils go along with margarine, the substitute for butter, when it comes to not-so-healthy food options. Vegetable oils are usually highly inflammatory and are genetically modified, leading to health problems such as birth defects, diabetes, bone and tendon problems, heart disease, liver problems, obesity, etc. A much better and healthier option is to use cold-pressed, extra virgin coconut oil, or–one that is easily accessible–homemade ghee (clarified butter).
5. “Artificial” sweeteners
Traditionally, artificial sweeteners are to be taken in place of natural sugar since they are low on the glycemic index, thus recommended by doctors worldwide. Ironically enough, it has been found that artificial sweeteners mess with the natural, good bacteria present in the body’s stomach and intestine and can actually end up being the cause for diabetes, instead of preventing it. Sugar substitutes have also been linked to allergies, bladder cancer, and brain tumours, among many others. The solution? Stick to natural sugar, albeit in moderate and controlled amounts, unless your doctor has specifically advised otherwise.
6. “Fat-free” Milk
Funnily enough, researchers have found that women (since they are the primary consumers of fat-free or skimmed milk) who consumed full-fat milk were actually 8 percent less likely to be overweight or obese as compared to fat-free enthusiasts. One of the theories supporting this is that consuming full-fat milk makes you feel full and stay full for longer, thus reducing your desire to eat. Additionally, low-fat, skimmed milk and such milk products are also chock-full of added sugars, which, as we have already seen, are linked to type II diabetes and heart diseases. The healthier and safer option is going for raw, organic milk. This is so because once the milk is pasteurized, it loses a lot of its nutritional content, along with the enzyme lactase, which is needed by the body to digest milk. Instead, it gets converted to lactose, which makes digesting milk harder for the body.
7. Popular coffee drinks
The benefits of coffee are amazing, but only when you consume it in its natural form: black with no sugar. Your favourite vanilla-spiced latte may taste great but it ruins your health! All the benefits that coffee comes packed with (such as prevention of liver cirrhosis and heart disease) are wiped clean when filled with excessive sugars. This happens when making lattes and frappucinos. A typical 16-ounce (roughly 500 ml) latte contains a massive 50 grams of sugar, equal to a litre of soda. Our livers, jaws and teeth also suffer due to the amounts of high-fructose corn syrup. Safest bet? Black coffee is the way to go.
8. Canned green beans
Eating one canned green bean a day could potentially be exposing you to high amounts of toxic pesticides. These pesticides are administered to the crop in order to make it last while canned, having an effect similar to preservatives. Canned green beans also contain bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen. This could lead to hormone imbalance as well as infertility in both males and females, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, as well as breast and prostate cancer. To combat this, you could grow your own green beans (they’re very easy to plant), or buy fresh or frozen beans.
9. Raw cashews
Raw cashews that we buy from the local store are not entirely “raw” per se. They have actually been steamed in order to remove the chemical urushiol, which leads to allergic reactions on the skin quite similar to those you get when you touch a poison ivy or poison oak. Raw cashews are also life-threatening when consumed in large amounts.
The leaves, twigs and seeds of this berry contain a chemical similar to that of cyanide, and can cause severe nausea if consumed. Although some varieties of this berry are safe to eat,they have to be well-cooked and cleaned properly. Failure to do so may lead to diarrhea and even seizures! But, on the brighter side, elderberries have also long been used to treat skin wounds and colds, and are often used in homeopathic remedies.