Health foods are really just as susceptible to hype and marketing as anything else, if not more so.
The majority of health foods these days tends to cost a lot and/or are high-maintenance, so it’s no wonder if you’re skeptical – and you should be. Just because a famous doctor on TV spouts off something as being healthy or otherwise good for you doesn’t make it actually true. You’ve also got the “health” food myths that have stuck around for years, like how margarine is better for you than butter. Just because people have said it or believed it for years doesn’t make it true!
This list could list 10, 25, or even 50 “health” foods that do more harm than good, but here are the top five that we’re most concerned about.
1. Microwave Popcorn
Aside from the fact that unless you get organic microwave popcorn it’s all GMO, there are a ton of nasty chemicals in the bag. The special bags made specifically for the microwave are lined with a chemical stew, with one such chemical being perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). (1)
PFOA is used to make stick-resistant items like non-stick pans and pizza boxes. It’s been shown to cause pancreatic, testicular, and liver cancer in animals. It’s also associated with infertility in females, might interfere with vaccine effectiveness in children, and is just plain bad.
On top of that information – as if it isn’t bad enough by itself – you also have the artificial flavors to contend with. Diacetyl, a chemical in the fake butter flavor, is linked with a rare form of lung disease among factory workers and people who eat large amounts of the stuff. (2)
If you’re a microwave popcorn addict, try popping your kernels in a plain paper bag, or do it the old-fashioned way on the stovetop or even with an air popper.
The first reason you should avoid soy is that it’s full of lectins that interfere with your leptin sensitivity. It’s also very high in phytates, which are anti-nutrients that bind to magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium. These become unavailable to your body and you excrete them. (3)
Other reasons to avoid soy include their goitrogenic effects, they block certain enzymes that help with the digestion of proteins, and they are full of plant estrogens. This is probably the biggest concern, for men, women, and children. When you eat too much soy, you can mess up your body’s level of estrogen. This can lead to lower libidos, fat accumulation, hormone disruption, higher risk for breast cancer, and a host of problems for babies ingesting soy. (4, 5)
If you need yet another reason, soy is one of the most destructive of all the crops.
3. Fat-Free Salad Dressings
There’s a saying that’s going around the Internet: “When you see the words ‘fat-free,’ think ‘chemical s**t-storm.’” This saying is particularly true of fat-free salad dressings. Commercial salad dressings are bad enough, with their factory-processed GMO vegetable oils like soybean and canola, and all the other not-food ingredients. Fat-free salad dressing is even worse, because they take out the fat and put stuff in to try to make up for the flavor.
If you have high blood pressure, you should be especially careful of these dressings. Two tablespoons can have up to 500 mg of sodium.
Everyone should avoid high-fructose corn syrup, also labeled as glucose-fructose…and guess what it is in practically every bottle of salad dressing these days? Low-fat salad dressings tend to have even more HFCS.
Instead of buying salad dressings, you can make your own. A super-simple dressing takes just balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and maybe a bit of honey if you like a touch of sweetness. You can mix things up and use different types of vinegars, add a dash of honey mustard, or some hot pepper flakes. It’s up to you.
4. Chewable Vitamin Tablets
We’re not going to get into whether you should take vitamin supplements or not, because everyone has their own opinions on that topic. But what you shouldn’t take, ever, is chewable vitamin tablets. Unless, of course, you don’t like your teeth very much.
First off, Vitamin C is actually ascorbic acid, which is, like all acids, corrosive. Vitamin C tablets aren’t the only ones you should avoid, though: chewable multivitamins can also contain acids that will erode your teeth.
If you must chew your vitamins because you have a gag reflex that stops you from being able to swallow pills, then make sure you rinse your mouth out immediately with water, and eat or drink something alkaline.
5. Fruit Juice
If you drink fruit juice, you might as well just drink soda when it comes to the amount of sugar in it. And that’s the least of your problems.
Do you automatically go for the “not from concentrate” juices, thinking they’re healthier? You couldn’t be more wrong. Have you ever wondered why every glass from every package of the same brand always tastes the same? Have you wondered how that’s possible when every orange tastes different? Industrially-produced orange juice has more chemicals in it than most things you can buy at your supermarket.
First off, the juice is put into huge holding tanks and all of the oxygen is removed so they can keep it for however long they need without it going bad (up to a year). This also removes all of the flavor, which means they have to then add the flavor back in using chemical flavor packs. Every company has its own patented “flavor pack,” most of which were designed by fragrance and flavor companies. (6)
Still love fruit juice? Fine…but make it yourself or get freshly-squeezed juice straight from the orange juicer at your local market. Don’t, for any reason, buy “not from concentrate” juice ever again.
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