The health industry is possibly the biggest industry in all of our history; everyone’s got to eat, after all. It’s also a become a repeating fad—the desire to eat healthier and better each year, renewed as the eve of each previous year comes to end to welcome another year. Most of us desire to have healthier lifestyles. While it may fall as a natural thing for some, for most us, it takes a lot of work to even try to eat better. It is an unfortunate thing that majority of the worst foods for us happen to also be the tastiest. There are a ton of diet fads that come about each year, and each year, a lot of fads die down as well just because they prove to be unsuccessful.
Here’s the most basic idea of it all: if you want to eat healthier, just avoid unhealthy foods. It doesn’t take into account portion sizes and calorie counting. But the idea is that healthy eating should start with the actual foods you are consuming. It’s probably the most difficult thing to do—to rewire our brains into avoiding the things that we already know are bad for us: sugar, salts, processed things, and so many more. It’s no new information, but all those foods are difficult to avoid because they’re so ingrained in our routine, everyday diets. But as with everything, the knowledge is power and if you know the things that are bad for you, you can then take the first steps toward avoiding them. We’ll get you started off with this list of the 20 unhealthiest foods on the planet.
1. Deep fried foods
This comes to no surprise: fried foods are some of the worst foods for you. It lists everything that can be unhealthy for any body. There’s the high fat content, high calories, and so much more. We all already know this. But what you probably don’t know is that most of fried foods contain high levels of AGEs or Advanced Glycation End products. These are inflammatory compounds that form through prolonged exposure of animal derivatives to high temperatures. So this means that all the good stuff—fried chickens, fried calamari, fried pork, and any other fried animal products—can cause you a host of diseases down the road.
2. Bacon and sausages
These processed meats are some of the most delicious meats out there. Who doesn’t like bacon to begin with? However, they’re unhealthy for reasons other than the fact that they’re fatty. Bacon and sausages also contain AGEs. They are also more than likely made from meats that are high in saturated fats. But most especially, bacon and sausages have nitrates and nitrites as a result of the curing process. These nitrates and nitrites transform into nitrosamines, which are highly carcinogenic, after exposure to high heats. So no matter how you cook your bacon or sausage, even if you don’t fry them in oil, they’re still dangerous for your body. You can grill them or bake them in the oven, cooking methods that are generally considered healthier, but they’ll still be exposed to high heat and susceptible to nitrosamine creation.
3. Sugary cereal
Here’s another unhealthy food that we’re all familiar with. We all know that too much sugar is plainly bad. There’s no other way to put it. But the problem is people seem to not pay attention to what cereals are actually considered sugary in the cereal aisle. Sure we all know that Fruit Loops and Fruity Pebbles are more sugar than actual fruit, but there are plenty of cereals that market themselves as healthy when they’re actually not. Some of these include Kellogg’s Smart Start, Kashi’s Heart to Heart Oat Flakes and Blueberry Clusters, Special K Protein, Nature’s Path Chocolate Koala Crisps, and many, many more. All it takes is a quick glance at the back of these packages to realize that they’re selling health but not giving it.
4. Frozen entrees
The idea of freezing food is to make it last longer; so it’s really a conundrum why manufacturers have to add so much preservatives to make frozen entrees last longer. Some of the worst foods in America come in frozen entrée form, and that includes the healthy brands as well. Frozen diet entrees can be tricky because although they give you less calories, they tack on the sugar with all the sweet sauces. Frozen mac and cheese are typically full of fat and preservatives to keep it fresh. Frozen burgers usually have a lot of saturated fats. And some of the worst frozen foods are frozen breakfast options. Some of these can tag on sodium content that go up to almost 1000mg of sodium. Didn’t we already mention that sodium is bad for you? Yes, that much sodium is absolutely bad for you.
5. Charred meats
There’s nothing like that perfect char on meat. It adds just the right mix of umami taste that you can’t achieve unless you cook meat just right. Grilling is probably one of the healthiest and best ways you can cook your food, but you definitely have to watch the char. The problem is with HCAs or heterocyclic amines. These are compounds that develop when amino acids, sugars, and creatine found in meats react with high temperatures. HCAs have been linked to various types of cancers. Fortunately, there’s a way to combat the formation of HCAs even when you’re grilling. By simply adding spices, which are rich in antioxidants, you can easily negate these effects of high temperatures on your meats
6. Chef Boyardee
Most of us have wonderful memories of eating Chef Boyardee meals growing up. First of all, they’re super easy to have. There’s nothing like popping open a can of Chef Boyardee when you’re just so hungry. It’s an instant meal. Also, they have this distinct taste about them that can be described as just a slight sweetness. That slight sweetness is actually 8 grams of sugar. That’s right. One can of Chef Boyardee’s Spaghetti with Meatballs contains a total of 8 grams of sugar. That’s bad, and that’s not even mentioning the high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil. We all know that high fructose corn syrup is bad, but what about soybean oil? The problem with soybean oil is the fact that it probably comes from genetically modified soybeans that contain high traces of pesticides. This means carcinogens—those cancer-causing compounds that you don’t want anywhere near your body.
7. Doritos chips
Who doesn’t love the crisp, the crunch, and the cheesiness of Doritos nacho chips? You can buy a bag of Doritos, but you know it’ll be gone by the time you decide to get up and get a drink. They’re delicious, all right, and they are easy to eat. However, one of the primary ingredients in Doritos chips happens to be MSG, or monosodium glutamate. At one point, many consumer groups were fighting to get MSG banned in food production, but MSG is still around and it’s in your chips. What is MSG exactly? It’s basically a sodium additive that makes food taste more appetizing. It makes sense now how much you want to finish that bag of chips and then want another bag. It’s the MSG. You know what else contains large amounts of MSG? Chinese food.
How unfortunate is it that Oreos made this list? These delightful cookie sandwiches are what dreams are made of. Pair them with a glass of cold or warm milk and there’s really no better comfort food. However, Oreos have a secret in the back of their packaging that most people tend to not even glance at just because. First off, Oreos are full of palm oil. Palm oils are fatty oils that promote fat-causing inflammation. It’s a whole lot of fat in such tiny sweet things. There’s also a scientific study done in 2013 that proved Oreos to be more addictive than cocaine and morphine, so you know the reason why you just can’t eat one.
9. Canned soup
Here you are thinking that you’re doing well for yourself by picking up canned soup instead of that package of instant ramen for your dinner. First of all, that all sounds terrible to begin with. However, canned soup isn’t any better for you at all. Sure it may have all the veggies that you wouldn’t normally eat, but anything that you think might be good about canned soup is all negated by the amount of sodium that they all contain. Some of these soups can have 1,400mg of sodium—that’s just too much. Excessive sodium intake will sit in your bloodstream and attract more water than what your body actually needs. Water retention and bloating will be the results, making you 5 pounds heavier, easily.
10. Boxed mac and cheese
Let’s first remember that boxed mac and cheese is something that we normally give our children to eat. Many people think that it’s a better alternative to eating fast food any day, and they might have some point because fast food is just bad. Although there are better, more organic options nowadays even for boxed mac and cheese, one ingredient still remains the same across the board: sodium content. Here’s another sodium issue from something so normal. You wouldn’t think about it so much because boxed mac and cheese isn’t necessarily salty to taste. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not overflowing in sodium. And because you didn’t think it was salty enough, you end up adding salt to the water before you boil the pasta. That’s definitely the wrong move, and you can probably do better with some fresh pasta and some fresh cheese.
Some people say hotdogs are bad because nobody knows exactly what kinds of meats go in them. However, you shouldn’t eat hotdogs because of worse reasons. First off, they have high levels of sodium. Next, hotdogs contain nitrates that produce carcinogens. But most of all, you should avoid hotdogs because they contain large amounts of sodium phosphates. These are so bad that even McDonald’s eliminated them from their menu altogether. High levels of sodium phosphates can lead to some of the deadliest diseases: heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and many others. As good as hotdogs may be, especially on a summer picnic, they’re just not worth the negative effects that they can bring to your body.
12. Deli meats
Many generally consider these as healthy food options. There’s nothing more innocent than a simple ham sandwich, right? But there’s a reason why doctors warn pregnant women about consuming deli meats. First of all, they can contain traces of bacteria, especially if they’re not stored properly. Next, just 2 slices of deli meat can contain up to 680mg of sodium. That’s just 2 slices. And since when did you put only 2 slices of deli meat on your sandwich? An average deli sandwich can contain up to 3,000mg of sodium, maybe even more. The risks are plenty. In addition to risks we’ve mentioned before, you can also be at risk for hypertension or high blood pressure. If you just have to have deli sandwiches, try to at least opt for lower sodium options. Otherwise, you can probably just avoid them altogether.
13. Instant oatmeal
Oatmeal is good for you, except for when you use instant oatmeal packets. The problem with these packets is the sugar content. Most instant oatmeal packets come as flavored options, and this only means high sugar. Most instant oatmeal packets also use caramel color. This is an additive that’s typically made with carcinogenic ingredients, so if eating an oatmeal packet every breakfast is your routine, you’re definitely putting yourself at risk for cancer. In addition, many other flavors contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Consuming this can definitely clog your arteries, and we all know that’s not a good thing. And did we mention that they also contain corn syrup solids? That’s another big no-no. You can still enjoy your oatmeal; just cook them the traditional way and you should be okay.
14. Dried fruit snacks
After reading some of these foods already, you should have an idea of why dried fruit snacks are bad for you. Yes, they’re still fruit, but you can’t ever compare fresh fruits to dried fruits. Added sugars are a given; dried fruits are teeming with them. However, it’s more than that. Dried fruits, believe it or not, contain vegetable oil. Not only is vegetable oil an inflammatory ingredient; they also add unnecessary calories and fat. In addition, they contain sulfites. Sulfites are generally used as preservatives. Many people get allergic reactions to sulfites without even knowing about it. Sulfites can cause swelling of the throat and hives. They can even cause migraines. So if you ever get headaches after eating some dried fruit, you’ve just realized that you’re actually allergic to sulfites.
15. Sliced cheese
There’s absolutely nothing more disgusting than sliced cheese? What is it made of anyway? We eat real, fresh cheese, and they taste nothing like what sliced cheese tastes like. Processed cheese contains large amounts of additives that are just unhealthy for you. Sodium citrate and phosphates are some of them. Sodium citrates give these processed blocks of cheese their unnatural orange color, and these additives can cause muscle spasms. On the other hand, phosphates are also abundant in processed cheese. These additives are used to prevent crystallization in dairy products. However, phosphates are known to cause kidney issues, osteoporosis, and bone demineralization. That’s ironic because dairy is supposed to give your bones the calcium they need to get stronger. Processed cheese is doing the exact opposite of what positive thing dairy is supposed to do for you.
16. Fruit yogurt
Why do people take something healthy and turn them around to make them unhealthy? It’s an unfortunate thing because yogurt is good for most people. Sometimes, the only way that people would eat yogurt is if it was a flavored variety. They might be better off not eating yogurt at all in this case. It doesn’t have to be mentioned that fruit yogurts contain large amounts of sugar. In addition to all the added sugar, most fruit yogurts actually don’t have a lot of fruit in them. The lovely colors that you usually see in fruit yogurts also come from fruit juice concentrates—not fresh fruits. So that’s more sugar again. But the worst thing is the carrageenan content. Carrageenan is an emulsifier that can cause inflammation, and fruit yogurts are just rich in them.
17. Frozen fish products
STPP—It’s not an acronym for anything good. It actually stands for sodium tripolyphosphate. Most manufacturers use STPP to retain moisture in various frozen fish products, which is important for most of us that want our fish to stay moist even after cooking. However, STPP is actually a known neurotoxin. Even more than that, STPP is recognized and registered as an actual pesticide. Regardless, the FDA considers STPP safe to consume. So just imagine this, everytime you’re eating frozen fish products that contain STPP, you’re basically eating pesticides. Increased intake of phophates in your food can increase your risk for heart disease. In addition to all of that, STPP in frozen fish increases the levels of sodium in your body, and we already know what that means.
18. Granola bars
Here’s another food that’s supposed to be healthy. There’s a slight misconception here because granola is healthy. There are many ways you can make our own granola mix and create something that’s truly substantial. However, when we all think of granola bars, we think of store-bought, pre-packaged bars. Sadly, not all granola are created equal, and pre-packaged granola bars generally contain large amounts of sugar, corn syrup, and sorbitol. The combination of these three will make you gain weight like no other. In addition, granola bars contain soybean oil, and as discussed previously, these are generally considered to be carcinogenic ingredients. Lastly, most granola bars actually contain BHT, a widely banned carcinogen. Why someone would put this in anything is completely lost on us.
19. Refried beans
What’s a burrito without some refried beans? We all know that beans are some of the healthiest foods you can provide for your body. They give you energy; they give you protein. They taste good as well. However, there’s a problem when you start canning them in refried form. Refried beans contain hydrogenated lard. Most cans of refried beans are extremely high in saturated fats and trans fats, which means that they’re highly likely to clog your arteries. A better alternative would be to pick up a can of vegetarian refried beans that won’t have all the hydrogenated lards. Otherwise, you can probably find a healthy recipe so you can make your own refried beans. Not only will it taste much fresher; you’ll also have something that’s much, much healthier.
20. Chicken nuggets
We’re talking particularly about fast food type chicken nuggets—the very ones people say are not made of chicken at all. The truth is most nuggets start off with some type of chicken altogether, but they also contain a lot of synthetic ingredients. There are diglycerides, coloring additive Red #40, and carrageenan. All of these work together to keep the natural portions of the nuggets, which aren’t a lot to begin with, from going bad. Just think that every time you bite into a chicken nugget, you’re consuming more synthetic parts than natural chicken. And even though we’re talking about fast food chicken nuggets, it doesn’t mean that store-bought frozen nuggets are any better. The best alternative is to just take some organic chicken breasts, bread them, and then cook them in the oven. You can have homemade and healthy nuggets for days.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker