10 Surprising Unhealthy Foods
There are many foods that look good on the surface, but spring unhealthy surprises on unsuspecting consumers. For example, did you ever associate that protein bar you have regularly for a quick burst of energy with unhealthy food? Or the delicious fruity frozen Popsicles you love in the summertime? What about convenient Top Ramen noodles or microwave popcorn?
Where do these fall on the unhealthy food list, and more importantly, why? Well, in some cases shocking but true, we have drawn up a list of ten of the most surprising foods to make the unhealthy food list.
1. Sports/Energy Drinks: The most surprising food on this list is Sports/Energy drinks. They contain unnecessary calories, sugar and excess carbohydrates that are unhealthy. Even when exercising regularly, the average person does not need the amount or kind of carbs that energy drinks provide. Many energy drinks are also full of caffeine, which provides a quick burst of energy, followed by a crash. (See The Caffeine Craze for more on this topic.) A great substitute for staying hydrated is a large water bottle with a packet of electrolytes poured in it to help aid in absorption of the fluid into your system.
2. Non-Dairy Creamer: Next is the innocuous looking non-dairy creamer just waiting to explode and loaded with all the wrong ingredients. It contains corn syrup solids, which are for the most part, glucose. Powdered creamer gets its creamy texture from partially hydrogenated oil, which contains trans fat. Another unhealthy element in creamer is Dipotassium phosphate, which provides the tang in Coca-Cola and is also a pesticide. Besides that, it often contains monoglycerides and diglycerides, sodium aluminosilicate and artificial flavors, all of which are unhealthy for you.
3. 100 calorie packs: If you are truly concerned with eating healthy, you need to check the nutrition label of the 100 calorie packs. They contain hydrogenated oils, which otherwise mean trans fats, and lack key nutrients such as protein, fiber, and healthy fats. The concept of portion control is good, but the content of the smaller portion must be healthy for you in order for it to be worth eating.
4. Ramen: A single serving of instant noodles is extremely high in carbohydrates, but low in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Noodles are typically fried as part of the manufacturing process, resulting in high levels of saturated fat and/or trans fat. Ramen is also high in sodium, 3,000 mg in extreme cases.
5. Low calorie canned whipped cream: Canned low calorie whip cream usually includes corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oil (CPKO), which are all harmful to your health. Canned whipped cream also contains compressed nitrous oxide or laughing gas. Exposure to nitrous oxide can cause short-term decreases in mental performance, audiovisual ability and manual dexterity. Why expose yourself to these risks when you can make your own natural whipped cream in a few minutes?
6. Microwave popcorn: This may be the most surprising food to make the list of unhealthy foods as it also happens to be one of America’s favorite couch snacks. It typically contains the flavoring agent, chemical diacetyl which triggers severe lung disorder, called popcorn lung. The popcorn bags are made of paper that is coated with a chemical to keep the bag intact when heated, which breaks down to a substance called perfluorooctanoic (PFOA), which is said to be carcinogenic. There are natural alternatives at health food stores if this is a snack you can’t do without.
7. Protein bars: Next in the list are a few brands of protein bars. Many bars are full of artery-clogging saturated and/or trans fat. They are high on calories ranging from 150 to 300 and more, loaded with sugar and carbohydrates, while low on fiber. If you are not careful, because of a misleading label, you could end up buying a fortified candy bar instead of a nutritious protein bar.
8. Charred or Browned Meat / Poultry: Charred meat contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which increase the risk of cancer. Grilling is particularly carcinogen-forming because the process involves high heat and long cooking times. High-temperature grilling also creates advanced glycogen end-products (AGEs), which are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes. Next time you put meat on the grill, be conscious of cooking it only to the point of being done and not beyond.
9. Popsicles: Licking a cool Popsicle on a hot day is not as harmless as you might think. They make it to the list of unhealthy foods because of high sugar content and artificial coloring dye, which are carcinogenic. Artificial coloring also can cause allergies in many people. And many popsicles now use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar in attempts to win over consumers. You are better off eating a cool piece of fresh fruit.
10. Sugar-free sweeteners: These include all artificial sweeteners like aspartame, splenda or saccharin that your body can’t process like natural food. Unfortunately, due to media attention, most people believe these options are now healthier than natural sugar. The truth is, when an artificial sweetener gets into your blood stream, your body starts retaining water, which used to escort the toxins out of your body, but now they get lodged in your tissue. So instead of making you look slimmer, they make you look fat and puffy. Artificial sweeteners can also cause cellulite. You are better off using a minimal amount of natural sugar or a natural plant-extracted sweetener, such as Stevia. (Listen to my audio on artificial sweeteners for more info.)
So next time you go shopping, don’t be fooled by misleading flashy and colorful food advertisements. Use your common sense and read the labels carefully before buying a product. There are many natural and healthy alternatives to unhealthy consumer foods.
Related article of interest: Top 5 Foods to Avoid