"50 Foods You Should Never Eat" Review

After seeing this food list, I had to seriously reconsider the groceries I buy each week. Whether you're trying to live healthy or lose weight, you may want to revamp your grocery list, too. Check out the 20 guilty foods I think you should forget about immediately (from the recent article "50 Foods You Should Never Eat" on MSN.com).

WHOLE WHEAT BREAD


William Davis, MD, creator of Wheat Belly 10-Day Detox

The Problem: Modern wheat is nothing like the grain your mother or grandmother consumed. Today, wheat barely resembles its original form, thanks to extensive genetic manipulations during the 1960s and 1970s to increase the grain's yields. "You cannot change the basic characteristics of a plant without changing its genetics, biochemistry, and its effects on humans who consume it," Dr. Davis notes.

Dr. Davis makes the case that modern-day wheat is triggering all sorts of health problems, everything from digestive diseases like celiac and inflammatory bowel disease to acid reflux, obesity, asthma, and skin disorders. "If there is a food that yields extravagant, extraordinary, and unexpected benefits when avoided, it is bread," says Dr. Davis. "And I don’t mean white bread, I mean all bread: white, whole wheat, whole grain, sprouted, organic, French, Italian, fresh, day-old…all of it."

The Solution: Try eliminating wheat altogether from your diet for a few weeks to see if you note health improvements. But be prepared for the wheat withdrawal syndrome of nausea, headache, fatigue and depression, and a host of other strange side effects of going grain-free during your first wheat-free week, since there are opiates that develop from the gliadin protein of wheat. Once you are through this process, you'll feel better, maybe better than you have ever before.

NON-DAIRY COFFEE CREAMER


Will Clower, PhD, author of Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight

The Problem: The health benefits of coffee are pretty impressive (Note: Too much caffeine is not...read here to find out why), so don't go throwing them away by splashing non-dairy creamer in your morning joe. Fake creamers are full of hard-to-pronounce ingredients, including liver-damaging high-fructose corn syrup, inflammatory hydrogenated oils that would never exist in nature, and artificial flavors.

The Solution: Drink your coffee black, or if you want to add cream, opt for organic from grass-fed cows or organic unsweetened coconut milk without the food additive carrageenan.

GRAPE JELLY


Ellen Gustafson, author of We the Eaters

The Problem: Concord grapes are delicious (and are one of the few fruits native to North America), but the way most of us taste them is in the form of high-fructose-laden grape jelly. "Even though it's given away for free like ketchup in little plastic packets, it's basically a jelly-textured candy loaded with various forms of sugar, artificial colors, and flavors," Gustafson says.

The Solution: Gustafson suggests opting for real fruit, honey, or apple butter on your PB&(F, H, or AB) sandwich. If you do reach for jelly in the store, look for low-sugar, organic versions—organic bans the use of artificial colors and flavors and requires that the grapes be grown without the use of chemical pesticides. (Nonorganic grapes are one of the most pesticide-laden fruits.)

DIET SODA


Isaac Eliaz, MD, founder of Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center

The Problem: Dr. Eliaz stays away from any diet soda (here's how) and foods, sugar-free candies, and gum containing artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, and neotame, among others. "The safety data on these sweeteners is shrouded in controversy and conflicts of interest with the manufacturers of these chemical compounds," Dr. Eliaz warns. "Independent research strongly suggests that when metabolized in the body, these sweeteners can cause health-related issues and problems related to metabolism and weight gain, neurological diseases, joint pain, digestive problems, headaches, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, chemical toxicity, and cancer, among others."

The Solution: From its weight gain effects to the overload of artificial sweeteners, the disturbing side effects of soda are enough to break the fizzy habit. If you're craving a soda but want to avoid the shady sweeteners, fake food dyes, and preservatives found in popular brands, try making one of these naturally flavored water recipes, or brew your own kombucha, a naturally bubbly fermented tea that's easy to make at home.

CANNED TOMATOES


Frederick vom Saal, PhD, professor of biological sciences, University of Missouri at Columbia

The Problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, or BPA, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Studies show that the BPA in most people's bodies exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 micrograms of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."

The Solution: To avoid negative BPA health effects, choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Eden Organic and Bionaturae. You can also look for tomatoes in Tetra Pak boxes instead of cans.

SPROUTS


Douglas Powell, PhD, food safety consultant, barfblog.com

The Problem: Sprouts have been the source of so many major food recalls that they're really not worth the risk, Powell says. Be they bean or broccoli, alfalfa or pea, sprouts have been at the center of at least 55 outbreaks of foodborne illness, affecting more than 15,000 people over the last 20 years. Often, sprouts harbor salmonella, E. coli, or listeria; they're vulnerable to contamination because the seeds require moist, warm conditions in order to sprout—ideal conditions for bacteria to thrive and multiply in.

The Solution: Get the crunch of sprouts—without the added bacteria—by shredding cabbage or carrots onto your sandwiches. If you really enjoy the flavor of sprouts, cook them first, but watch out for cross-contamination.

CHICKEN WINGS


Tasneem Bhatia, MD, author of What Doctors Eat

The Problem: A single chicken wing has 81 calories and 5 grams of fat. Given that most people don't eat just one, a lone feast of chicken wings could easily lead to 1,000 extra calories and 50 grams of fat—nearly two or three days worth of artery-clogging fat! "Since 500 extra calories per day leads to two pounds per week, chicken wings are a recipe for weight gain," Dr. Bhatia says.

The Solution: If you like chicken, try baked or grilled versions to avoid a calorie overload. Since conventional chicken feed often contains antibiotics to stimulate faster growth (and sometimes even arsenic), choose organic whenever you can. If you want to go the veggie route, try this delicious vegan Buffalo wings alternative.

BUTTER-FLAVORED POPCORN


Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research at Women’s Voices for the Earth

The Problem: Diacetyl is used in a lot of fake butter flavorings, despite the fact that the chemical is so harmful to factory workers that it's known to cause an occupational disease called "popcorn lung," Scranton says. After news of the chemical got out to the popcorn-eating public, companies started replacing diacetyl with another additive—which can actually turn into diacetyl under certain conditions, she adds. Neither chemical is disclosed on microwave-popcorn bags because the exact formulations of flavorings are considered trade secrets. "It's a classic example of the need for better chemical regulation and improved transparency on the chemicals used in our food and other household products," she says.

The Solution: Pop it on the stovetop in a pot and season or go an easier homemade popcorn route: Put a small handful of kernels into a brown paper lunch bag and stick the bag in the microwave. The kernels will pop just like those fake-butter-flavored kernels in standard microwave popcorn bags. When they're done, pour seasoning over them. "Makes pretty good popcorn at a fraction of the cost!" Scranton says.

FARMED SALMON


Margaret I. Cuomo, MD, author of A World Without Cancer

The Problem: "Fish is naturally low in saturated fat, and some types, like salmon, are also high in omega-3 fat, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack and inflammation throughout the body. While Americans need to eat more seafood and less red meat, some fish such as farmed salmon are contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), pesticides (including dieldrin and toxaphene) and antibiotics," she says. And unlike wild salmon, farmed salmon are fed a mixture of other fish ground into fishmeal and fish oil, and they concentrate more toxins in their fat tissue than do other fish, Dr. Cuomo notes.

The Solution: "Fish is an important part of my family's diet, and I am very careful to choose wild salmon, rather than farmed salmon, which contains many carcinogens," Dr. Cuomo says.

GUMMY VITAMINS


Mark Moyad, MD, MPH

The Problem: Vitamins in the form of candy? Sounds like a dream to the parents of picky eaters. Too bad it's too good to be true. Each serving is about 15 calories a day and, while 2 or 3 grams of sugar a day (often as corn syrup) doesn't seem like much, Dr. Moyad points out that this translates to nearly 6 cups of sugar a year. Not to mention, gummies contain artificial food dyes and can contain a laundry list of other problematic ingredients: "Many contain gluten, and some also contain corn syrup, carmine, and pregelatinized cornstarch," he says.

The Solution: "Always go to food for nutrition first," says Dr. Moyad. "Don't teach kids to rely on pills at such a young age."

ANYTHING FROM MCDONALD'S


Joel Salatin, sustainable farmer The Problem: McDonald’s isn't just about food, it's about food mentality, according to Salatin. "It represents the pinnacle of factoryfarming and industrial food," he says. "The economic model is utterly dependent on stockholders looking for dividends without regards to farm profitability or soil development."Fast food typically is loaded with all sorts of the ingredients mentioned elsewhere in our list: genetically engineered corn, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, and other bad actors in the food supply. The type of farming that supports this type of food business relies on harmful chemicals that not only threaten human health, but also soil health.

The Solution: Learn to cook! You might be surprised to find that paying extra up front for a pasture-raised chicken can be cheaper than buying prepared fast-food chicken. For instance, cooking a chicken and then boiling down the bones for a rich, disease-fighting stock can yield up to three meals for a family! (Here's how to make homemade stock.) Find sustainable farmers at LocalHarvest.org.

ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS


Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale, Inc. and author of Organic Manifesto

The Problem: Ironically, there's a lot of evidence that suggests using artificial sweeteners, which have zero calories, is just as bad for your waistline as using regular, high-calorie sugar. For instance, research from the University of Texas has found that mice fed the artificial sweetener aspartame had higher blood sugar levels (which can cause you to overeat) than mice on an aspartame-free diet. Not only are they bad for your health, but scientists have also detected artificial sweeteners in treated wastewater, posing unknown risks to fish and other marine life. Plus, as Rodale says, "They're unnatural, nonorganic, taste horrible, and lead to all sorts of bad health consequences, false expectations, and short-term strategic thinking."

The Solution: Refined white sugar isn't any healthier, but you can replace it with small amounts of nutritious sweeteners, including honey, blackstrap molasses, and maple syrup, all of which have high levels of vitamins and minerals, or make homemade healthy sweeteners that are far better for your diet.

PROCESSED HONEY


Gerard E. Mullin, MD, author of The Gut Balance Revolution

The Problem: "Refined honey is among the most insidious sweeteners of all time," says Dr. Mullin. The pasteurization process eliminates the health properties of honey, essentially turning it into just another form of sugar. To make things more confusing, research has shown that more than 75 percent of honey has been processed to the point where it isn't even considered honey anymore. Some honey is even blended with high-fructose corn syrup, additives, and other flavorings.

The Solution: In moderation, raw honey from your local farmer's market has the opposite effect on your health. "Good data show that a teaspoon or less per day of raw honey has positive effects on gut microbimone health," Dr. Mullin says. Raw honey may have an antimicrobial effect against harmful pathogens in your gut, including E. coli. At the same time, this superfood can help promote the growth of healthy bacteria. "Honey also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune-regulating, and anti-tumor properties," he points out. It can also improve many aspects of your health, including allergies, bone health, diabetes, and wound healing.

AGAVE


Robert Lustig, MD, author of Fat Chance

The Problem: Don't trust the health halo claims associated with the natural sweetener agave. While it is technically a low-glycemic food, it actually drives up blood fructose, which is way worse, Dr. Lustig explains. "Fructose causes seven times more cell damage than glucose because it binds to cellular proteins seven times faster and releases 100 times the number of oxygen radicals (like hydrogen peroxide, which damages cells)," he notes.In addition, fructose is turned into fat in the liver, which contributes to the development of metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes. "Glycemic index is irrelevant; fructose damages your body unrelated to glycemic index. Agave nectar should have a skull and crossbones," Dr. Lustig says.

The Solution: Retrain your tastebuds to not want excessively sweet foods.

TABLE SALT


Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, and founder of DrAxe.com

The Problem: Table salt starts out as a healthy sea salt, but the extreme processing that happens next makes this one of the worst things you can put in your body. Manufacturers strip it of all its minerals and heat it to around 1,200 degrees, completely changing its chemical structure. Then, the naturally-occurring iodine that was destroyed is replaced with potassium iodide, and the salt is stabilized with dextrose, which turns it purple. Finally, it is bleached white.

The Solution: For an all-natural, unprocessed way to add flavor to food, choose Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt. You'll also get a heavy dose of health benefits, including bone support, improved cognitive function and pH balancing.

CHARRED MEAT


Natasha Turner, ND, author of The Supercharged Hormone Diet

The Problem: While everyone loves a good barbecue, grilling meats can produce carcinogens if you aren’t careful. The two most associated with charring are HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). HCAs form when meat is cooked at high temperatures; PAHs are created when the flames touch the meat or when fat drips into the flames and produces smoke, which then rises and coats the food.

The Solution: To grill more healthfully, lower the heat on your gas grill or increase the distance between the fire and the meat if using a charcoal grill. Choose smaller cuts of meat, flip them often, and use a meat thermometer when cooking at lower temperatures so you can check to be sure the meat is fully cooked. Homemade grilling marinades, particularly ones containing rosemary, can reduce the risk of HCAs by up to 99 percent.

FAST FOOD FRENCH FRIES


Jillian Michaels, fitness expert

The Problem: Heart disease has become the number one killer in America. One main culprit, Michaels says: Trans fats, aka hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, vegetable oils that have been "reconfigured" to extend their shelf life (but that ultimately harm your cholesterol levels). A medium fry from a fast-food restaurant could contain as much as a whopping 14.5 grams of this fat. That's significant because there are no safe levels of trans fats, according to many public health experts. In fact, if only 3 percent of your daily calorie intake is from trans fats, your risk of heart disease goes up by 23 percent, Michaels notes. "Although fast-food fries are a main culprit, I highly recommend reading your food labels and avoiding this toxic preservative wherever and whenever possible," she says.

The Solution: Bake your fries at home using this simple recipe: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Cut a potato into wedges. (Soak potatoes to reduce harmful acrylamide levels.) Mix together 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder. Coat the potato wedges with the oil/spice mixture and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes in preheated oven.

INFLAMMATORY VEGETABLE OILS


Jayson Calton, PhD, and Mira Calton, CN, authors of The Micronutrient Miracle

The Problem: Don't ruin your healthy salad by dumping inflammatory oils all over it. "Most salad dressings on the market today use canola or soybean oil—two major GMO-laden, pro-inflammatory no-nos," says Jayson Calton. Mira points out that even organic versions still contribute to the unhealthy, pro-inflammatory omega-6/omega-3 imbalance. "Due to the adverse processing methods for corn, soybean, canola, safflower, or cottonseed oils, you are essentially ingesting oxidized molecules that wreak immediate havoc on healthy cellular function," she says. "The bottom line is that these oils are not healthy and should be avoided at all costs."

The Solution: Make your own salad dressing with fresh healthy oils and organic vinegar—it's super easy. Olive oil is OK, say the Caltons, but it can be high in inflammatory omega-6s (if you do go with olive oil, always opt for cold-pressed, extra-virgin). Safer oils include peanut, sesame, avocado, macadamia, flaxseed, and fish oils. Simply combine the oil of your choice with your favorite herbs, garlic, red wine vinegar, and voilà—homemade Italian dressing!

FRUIT JUICE


Dawna Stone, author of The Healthy You Diet

The Problem: Fruit is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients—but fruit juice does not provide the same health benefits. "Even if you are label conscious and purchase 100 percent real fruit juice or make your own fresh squeezed juice at home, you need to beware of the high sugar content," Stone warns. A glass of fruit juice can have as much sugar as a can of soda, not to mention it's void of one of fruit's main health benefits—its high fiber content.

The Solution: Next time you think about grabbing a tumbler of juice, consider opting for a splash of real fruit juice to a glass of still or sparkling water. Not enough juice to satisfy your craving? Combine whole fruit and ice in a blender for a refreshing and satisfying smoothie. Even better, opt for a green vegetable juice and add the juice of a half a green apple. "I find just ½ an apple or other fruit gives my nutrient-dense green juice just the right amount of sweetness," Stone says.

SWORDFISH


Philip Landrigan, MD, professor of preventive medicine and pediatrics, Mount Sinai

The Problem: One of Dr. Landrigan's No. 1 warnings to women who are pregnant or are looking to become pregnant? "Make avoiding mercury in fish a priority," he says. Swordfish is notoriously high in the heavy metal, a potent neurotoxin that can damage developing children and even trigger heart attacks in adults. Aside from obvious health concerns, swordfish is often overfished and some of the gear commonly used to wrangle in swordfish often kills turtles, seabirds, and sharks.

The Solution: For a healthy omega-3 brain boost, look for fish that are low in contaminants and have stable populations, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, Atlantic mackerel, or pole- or troll-caught Pacific albacore tuna. Got a more adventurous palate? Try snakehead fish to satisfy your fish craving and improve the environment.

The invasive species lives on land and water, where it wipes out important frogs, birds, and other critters. Snakehead fish is popping up on some restaurant menus, and the taste and texture are about identical to swordfish.

What other foods do you think we should avoid?

Picture Credit: sweets.seriouseats.com - Jelly may consist of fruit but it doesn't mean it's healthy for you or with your weight loss goals.


Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article 50 Foods You Should Never Eat Review on MSN.com
"50 Foods You Should Never Eat" Review
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