Life is short, therefore, you like to indulge a little bit here and there. However, that bacon cheeseburger, diet soda, and fries once in awhile does more than just harm your allotted weekly calorie intake. Aside from adding to your waistline, these 20 foods do more than just make your pants tight and your tops fit funny. These foods are laced with chemicals and dangerous additives that have severe effects on your health.
1. Fast Food Iced Tea
Harmful Ingredient: Propylene glycol alginate (E405)
While iced tea probably seems like the healthiest option, you’d be surprised at how wrong you really are. There is an ingredient known as, Propylene glycol alginate, also referred to as E405. Do you know where else this same ingredient is found? Unfortunately, you can find E405 in anti-freeze and runway deicer. Propylene glycol alginate is a food thickener, stabilizer, and can cause cardiovascular or neurotoxic issues. It is widely used among the fast food chains in their iced teas.
Eat This Instead: Try steeping green tea in cool water for a few minutes instead of the traditional warm water. In fact, the cool water steeping can have more nutritional benefits than warm water. Either way, green tea is great for burning fat and keeping you alert.
2. Tile Fish
Harmful Ingredient: Mercury
All fish have trace amounts of mercury, however, tile fish is ranked #1 in dangerous levels of mercury. It is even more dangerous than shark or swordfish.
Eat This Instead: Atlantic Mackerel! It has the lowest trace amounts of mercury among all the different types of fish.
3. Microwave Popcorn
Harmful Ingredient: Trans Fats
A lot of sources will say that popcorn is a great and healthy snack. However, microwave popcorn is not the exception. Air popped popcorn is a healthy and nutritious snack full of fiber and whole grains. On the other hand, the microwaveable brands like Jiffy Pop and Jolly Time are not in the same league as the air popped kernels. These butter ‘flavored’ treats are laced with diacetyl (DA). Studies show that diacetyl breaks down the layers of cells that protect one of the most vital organs: the brain.
Eat This Instead: Air pop some kernels! All you need is a brown paper bag, unpopped kernels, and a microwave. Pour a handful of kernels into a brown lunch bag. Next, fold the lunch bag over a few times until it is properly sealed and toss it into the microwave. You will know when the bag is ready when you hear a pop only once every five seconds. Enjoy!
4. Fast Food Chicken Nuggets
Harmful Ingredient: Diglycerides, Red #40, carrageenan
All chicken nuggets contain some amount of chicken, however, this mouthful of a chemical is what keeps the chicken nuggets looking good for months at a time. Even buying frozen chicken nuggets from the grocery store doesn’t keep you safe from the harmful additives. The purpose of this chemical is to also keep the limited organic material (i.e: chicken) inside the nugget looking good even if it is frozen for long periods of time.
Eat This Instead: Cut organic chicken breast into pieces, dip into a mixture of egg and breadcrumbs, and bake at home in your oven. They are tasty and you know exactly what is going in them.
5. Fruit Juice
Harmful Ingredient: Fructose
With claims like “it’s all natural!” and “organic,” it’s easy to get swept away by the marketing when it comes to buying fruit juice. While it may be 100% juice, this beverage is often packed with as much sugar as 4 Krispy Kreme donuts or 36 grams of sugar per cup. The sweet flavor you might love comes from fructose, which is a type of sugar associated with the development of visceral adipose, also known as, belly fat.
Drink This Instead: Instead of drinking another glass of fruit juice, why not just try some good old fashioned, hydrating water. Want to mix it up a little bit? Simply slice up some grape fruit, limes, or lemons for an extra kick of flavor. You can also add mint or berries as well.
6. White Sugar
Harmful Ingredient: Sugar
The CDC has stated that Americans eat a whopping 82 grams of added sugar per day. This is 37 grams above the recommended daily intake. There’s another factor to white sugar that’s actually a little gross. Refined white sugar is bleached in a process that entails the sugar going through “bone char” or “natural carbon”. These are just fancy terms for charred cattle bones. Confectioner sugar and brown sugar can also be culprits to this gross process.
Eat This Instead: Stick to organic cane or turbinado sugar. These both can be found at your local supermarket.
7. Sugary Cereal
Harmful Ingredients: Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), refined carbs, added sugar
Consuming too much-refined sugar can eventually lead to obesity. Sugar wreaks havoc on the body. Also, other illnesses and disease that are caused by eating refined sugar are diabetes and heart disease. Most breakfast cereals pack more sugar into one serving than an entire Krispy Kreme Boston donut. Even worse, many popular varieties like Frosted Flakes and Fruity Pebbles are also laced with 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 thought to be carcinogenic.
Eat This Instead: Cascadian Farms Chocolate O’s and Nature’s Path Peanut Butter Panda Puffs are both flavor-packed, low-sugar picks that don’t contain any scary chemicals.
8. Diet Sodas
Harmful Ingredients: Caramel coloring, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), Bisphenol A (BPA), aspartame
Your favorite diet soda isn’t as innocent as the marketing would lead you to believe. Diet sodas like Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper all contain artificial coloring, flame retardants, and waist widening fake sugars. Nearly all diet sodas contain the very dangerous ingredient, aspartame. This dangerous artificial sweetener has been known to raise glucose levels and overloads the liver resulting in excess fat. Diet Mountain Dew and Fresca aren’t safe bets either. They contain an ingredient called BVO, which is a chemical used in rocket fuel and flame retardants. This may negatively affect thyroid hormones.
Eat This Instead: Most companies have phased out BVO use in their sodas, but all diet drinks still contain aspartame.
9. Coffee Creamer
Harmful Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, trans fats, added sugar
Want to know what your sunscreen and coffee creamer have in common? They both contain titanium dioxide. This is also known as a radiation blocker that doubles as a whitening agent. Aside from being in conventional creamers, it’s also been found in bottles labeled ‘healthy’. The additive has been proven to cause liver and tissue damage in mice. Aside from all of this information, creamers are loaded with trans fats. These are cleverly disguised as hydrogenated oil. Most, if not all, of Coffee Mate’s products, have this scary ingredient. It has also been shown to diminish memory in adults under 45 years old. This is one ingredient you can forget to leave off your grocery list.
10. Processed Meats
Harmful Ingredients: Nitrate, excess sodium
Deli meats like bacon, sausage, or lunch meats could be putting your life at risk. Many of these meats contain nitrates, which is a preservative that interferes with the body’s natural ability to process sugar. This can increase the risk for diabetes and also puts you at risk for developing thyroid or colon cancer. Think that’s bad? Well, it gets worse. Processed meats are also loaded with sodium which is a known contributor to diseases like hypertension. Sodium can also make you bloat and can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Eat This Instead: Boar’s Head All Natural Roasted Turkey breast is free of nitrates and is relatively low in sodium. Applegate Natural’s Natural Slow Cooked Ham and Organic Bacon are also good alternatives. These can be found in the meat and deli section of your grocery store.
11. Deep Fried Foods
Harmful Ingredient: Hydrogenated Oil
Fried chicken, fried mozzarella sticks, and fried calamari, and even french fries are trouble for your body. Aside from wreaking havoc on your waist line, these fried treats are made with hydrogenated oil. This has been known to cause depression in certain individuals. Hydrogenation is a process that turns vegetable oil into a more solid form; therefore making it a more shelf-stable product. Hydrogenated oils contain trans fats that contribute to depression, clogged arteries, and heart disease.
Eat This Instead: Always oven bake your food.
12. Frozen Entrees
Harmful Ingredient: Sodium, trans fats
Preservatives and artificial fillers and mounds of sodium that wreak havoc on your body and waist line, that’s what frozen entrees are made of.
Eat This Instead: Choose healthy, organic and low-sodium frozen options. Also be sure to check the sugar levels and avoid meals with trans fats.
13. Chinese Food
Harmful Ingredient: Monosodium glutamate
MSG is often associated with Chinese food. It is a flavor enhancer used in other types of foods like soups, processed meats, and more. Research has shown that MSG is one of the worst additives you can consume. It can cause an increase in appetite, ultimately causing you to consume more foods with MSG. Those who eat a lot of MSG foods are more overweight compared to those who have no MSG in their foods.
Eat This Instead: Steamed Veggies and Brown Rice
14. Restaurant Desserts
Harmful Ingredient: Sodium
It’s not just the sugar and calories you need to worry about in desserts. Most people don’t realize just how high the sodium content really is. Some desserts have a whopping 1,380 calories, 92 grams of fat, 700 milligrams of sodium, 125 grams of carbs, and 85 grams of sugar.
Eat This Instead: A small scoop of sorbet is a low-risk way to satisfy that sweet craving after a meal.
15. Monochromatic Beige Entrees
Harmful Ingredient: Excess calories, sodium, fat
If your plate is made up almost entirely of off-brown hues of deep fried foods then you’re seriously lacking some nutrition. Appetizers, samplers, fried fish, and chips, wings, and others are setting your diet up for failure.
Eat This Instead: Steamed Veggies
16. Energy Drinks
Harmful Ingredient: Sugar, glucose, caffeine
Ever wonder why energy drinks taste like medicinal cough syrup? You’re not really getting any energy out of these drinks. They are overpriced cocktails of chemicals that are loaded with scary artificial sugars and sweeteners.
Drink This Instead: Green Tea. It is all natural and one of the best energy boosters. It has also been shown to boost your metabolism and give you better focus.
17. Ice Cream
Harmful Ingredients: Soybean oil, titanium dioxide, artificial coloring
Most ice creams, yes, even the premium ones, are loaded with sugar and soybean oil. This is a fat that has been linked to weight gain. Some even contain harmful artificial coloring agents and titanium, which is the same additive that gives sunblock its white hue.
Eat This Instead: Try a frozen banana homemade ice cream instead.
18. Bottled Smoothies
Harmful Ingredient: Caramel coloring, pectin, fructose, xanthan gum
Grab and go breakfasts are convenient but they certainly not healthy. These grab and go smoothies are packed with sugar, preservatives, and are really lacking any sort of real nutrition.
Drink This Instead: Start making your own smoothies at home! Freeze what you don’t use and you can drink them whenever.
19. Breakfast Biscuits
Harmful Ingredient: Trans fat
Making biscuits from scratch takes forever, and the majority of the packaged varieties are chock full of trans fats, an artificial fat—invented to make baked goods more shelf-stable—that’s been linked heart disease. Each of Mary B’s Buttermilk Biscuits carries three grams a pop (which is more than a day’s worth). And though the nutrition label on Pillsbury Grands! Buttermilk Biscuits reads “0 grams” in the trans fat column, it’s made with hydrogenated soybean oil—a dead giveaway that there are traces of the dangerous fat in the biscuits.
Eat This Instead: Thomas “nooks and crannies” save you from trans fats and will save you 90 calories.
20. Pancake Syrup
Harmful Ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring
Your favorite syrup brands like Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Buttersworth are made with two ingredients that are harmful to your health. They contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring.
Eat This Instead: The best syrup for your health and your waist line is a Grade A Medium Amber syrup. Remember, a little goes a long way with this highly concentrated stuff.