Did you know that there are foods you are eating every day that are killing you slowly? Most of us have a number of these foods on our menu, but if you combine all of these, you’ll get a deadly combo and you need to start making changes to your diet. So analyze what you eat and start making the right choices today. Here’s the list of 20 foods that are killing you slowly. Try to avoid or limit the intake of these foods as much as you can. Most of us know that we should eat better. But if you think you’re eating healthy yet the following 20 foods make up the majority of your diet—think again! So as much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, it’s prime time you discovered the hidden dangers of these popular North American foods…
1. Artificial Sweeteners
You might have made the swap from refined white sugar to an artificial sweetener—like acesulfame potassium, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, or sucralose—because artificial sweeteners contain fewer calories. However, just because the FDA labels them safe for human consumption, doesn’t mean you necessarily should.
Numerous studies have linked low- and zero-calorie foods and beverages to a heightened risk of metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, many food scientists consider aspartame “the most dangerous substance on the planet.” If you need a touch of sweetness, use natural agave syrup, honey, or real maple syrup sparingly.
2. Deli Meats
Even just the word nitrates sound like a ticking time bomb. This actually isn’t too far fetched considering the levels of sodium, preservatives, and additives that lend deli meats—like ham, salami, and bologna—their rosy shade. Cold cuts and cured meats are also high in trans. In fact, Time magazine points out that even the brands that market themselves as “low-fat” are high in sodium.
The American Heart Association points out that just six slices of deli meat can add up to half the amount of daily recommended sodium. Yikes! Adults who eat this type of food increase their risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. Studies also show that kids who grow up eating lunch meat are more prone to learning issues and behavioral conditions.
3. Canned Tomato Sauce
Canned tomato sauce is a killer in disguise. It’s a hidden source of sugar and it would never even cross your mind that it could lead to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even tooth decay. To avoid these issues, use fresh tomatoes to make the sauce yourself, or switch to pureed tomatoes without the extra sugar or salt and add your own spices. Or at least go for brands with less sugar and sodium.
Carbonated drinks or sodas are one of your worst enemies. They can mess up everything, from your skin, blood sugar levels, to your hormones and mood. Forget the marketing and the labels that say it’s good for you or it contains nutrients or vitamins. All it has is a bunch of sugar, food dyes, and preservatives. And sugar-free versions are no better as they’re packed with harmful artificial sweeteners. Buy a blender or a juice maker and make your own juice, please. And if you miss the bubbles, you can always add your homemade fruit juice to some sparkly water, and voila!
5. Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil is a part of our cuisine and we don’t even think twice about it. But some of these oils are GMO and we have no idea yet what long-term effects these products can have. Furthermore, vegetable oils contain dangerous trans-fats that can trigger cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Check the label and if the oil is refined, steer clear of it as it contains free radicals that can help cancer growth, speed up aging, and cause all kinds of trouble. Opt for healthy alternatives such as olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil.
You’ve heard the warnings when it comes to trans fats (or saturated hydrogenated oils). Sure, they’re plant-based oils, but they’re still so highly processed that nutritionists give foods, like margarine, a big thumbs down. Why? Because trans fats increase the risk of bad cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke. Time magazine notes that trans fats are at their highest in those bricks of butter that remain solid at room temperature, and these are the ones that are often marketed as a healthier choice!
So skip the sandwich spread and instead use mashed avocado or extra virgin olive oil for a healthier spread or bread dipper. I like to drizzle toasted pita bread with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can also add a few teaspoons of a favorite heart-healthy oil, spices, and balsamic vinegar on a plate for dipping bread, crackers, and other crudités.
7. Hot Dogs
Hot dogs and similar smoked and salted meat contain lots of preservatives that are bad for your health. But the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine compared the effects of eating hot dogs on the effects of smoking cigarettes. If you’re not convinced yet, you should know that hot dogs are high in sodium and toxins that increase your risk of cancer. If you can’t resist, at least make sure you get your dogs chemical-free from organic butchers or directly from farmers.
8. Whole Dairy
Aside from the fact that whole-milk dairy products contain far too many saturated (or bad) fats, they’re also jam-packed with another ingredient that will put you off your cereal—bovine growth hormone (BGH). This synthetic hormone is engineered in a lab to boost the milk production of cows.
Unfortunately, nutritionists say BGH is passed along to humans in milk in the form of childhood obesity, as well as certain cancers, chronic migraines, and rheumatoid arthritis. However, you can opt for organic cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk that come minus the added hormones. Animal milk alternatives, such as almond, soy, and rice milk are also options.
9. Potato Chips
All deep-fried food contains a dangerous substance called acrylamide. Potato chips are no exception. Acrylamide increases the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and rectum cancer. So avoid the potato chips or make a healthier version at home. Put a little olive oil on sliced potatoes, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and bake it in your oven. We promise it tastes delicious.
10. Bottled Salad Dressings
Bottled salad dressings are full of sugar, artificial colors, and high fructose corn syrup. Once you drown your salad in this nutritional disaster, you might as well eat a bag of potato chips or a hot dog instead. Drop the bottled salad dressings, and use lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar along with some olive oil for a healthy salad dressing.
11. Refined White Carbohydrates
White pieces of bread, white rice, white pasta, pre-packaged chips and crackers, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, and pretty much every single snack food on the market all have one thing in common—enriched wheat flour! That’s why I’m always going on about the type of carbohydrates (complex carbs vs. starchy carbs) that largely make up your diet, and how they determine the way you metabolize food and your level of energy.
Not only are refined grains stripped of most nutrients; they also digest quickly into simple sugars, causing blood sugar levels to spike and come quickly crashing down in a wave of irritability and mid-day snack attacks. Ultimately, a starchy addition is linked to weight gain, inflammatory conditions (i.e., arthritis), type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.
Yes, milk is the first food we eat when we’re brought into this world. But a mother’s milk is much different than a cow’s mother’s milk. In addition, as we age, we develop lactose intolerance.
Dairy products are linked with low nutrient absorption, migraines, arthritis, cancer, allergies, and asthma. So again, forget about those clever marketing tricks. Switch to coconut milk or almond milk, it tastes great and it won’t slowly kill you like cow milk.
13. Pastries, Cookies, and Cake
I think it’s safe to assume that you probably already knew to eat a diet full of processed treats like cookies, pastries, and cake isn’t the best thing to do, but just in case, we’ll discuss it here. Most baked goods that are commercially produced are not healthy.
Not only are they loaded with sugar, but they’ve also likely been made with saturated fats like butter or palm oil, or trans fats like hydrogenated vegetable oil. “You have two ingredients that work with each other to give somebody the worst possible nutritional profile,” says Dr. Regina Druz, associate professor of cardiology at Hofstra University and chief of cardiology at St. John Episcopal Hospital in New York City to Time magazine.
14. Energy Bars
Energy bars might be necessary for athletes who need a quick burst of energy, but if that’s not you, try to resist these tasty calorie bombs. Energy bars contain a lot of sugar (we talked about sugar before), high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and can contain trans-fats. So this is basically candy that’s full of calories, sugar, and artificial ingredients. In other words, it’s a ticking time bomb.
15. Processed Cheese
When food feels like rubber…there’s probably something unhealthy about it. We’ve all indulged in some processed cheese here and there. I mean it was pretty much a staple childhood food that was easy to slap onto a grilled cheese or hamburger patty. But when we stop to think about it, there’s nothing healthy about cheese that can last that long without ever going molding and shines like a piece of latex!
The answer is that processed cheese is often packed with additives, some of which can be seriously harmful. “Kraft Singles are packed with sodium citrate, which can cause muscle spasms and may be unhealthy to individuals with kidney health issues. They’re also packed with sodium phosphate, an ingredient used to prevent the crystallization of meat and dairy products, which has been linked to an increased risk of bone demineralization, osteoporosis, and kidney health issues.
16. Sugary Cereals
A lot of the sugary cereals we see in grocery stores are marketed towards children who have a sweet tooth. They’re packaged in bright colored boxes with animated figures on them to make them more enticing to children and let’s face it, they taste good! The reason these cereals taste good is that they’re loaded with sugar.
“Eating refined carbohydrates and sugars in the morning is going to produce inflammation and make blood sugar go up and down, so you’ll crave more sugar throughout the day,” says Dr. Druz to Time magazine. She goes on to offer advice on what to eat instead that would be a much healthier option. For example, having some fruit with an egg and avocado on whole-grain toast.