Food choices are a very personal decision, but there are definitely some foods that are more unhealthy than others. While we couldn’t list every single unhealthy food in the world (anyone who has ever tried to eat more healthfully knows there are plenty of them), the following nine foods have been scientifically proven to be super awful for your health. Think about leaving these guys on the shelf next time you’re at the grocery store.
(Partially) Hydrogenated Oils
Found in margarine and countless pre-packaged foods, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils contain trans-fatty acids. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that trans-fatty acids have been linked to heart attacks, high cholesterol, decreased insulin sensitivity, and inflammation.
Sugary soda is something of a no-brainer when it comes to foods to avoid; the empty calories are certainly doing no one any good. But a study by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research published just last month found that even diet sodas aren’t good for your health.
The study found that individuals who consistently drank diet soda were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who chose regular soda.
While lean red meat can provide high-quality protein and useful nutrients like Vitamin B12, it may be wise to get those positives from a food that doesn’t come with so many negatives. High red meat consumption is linked with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and total mortality. The research remains in progress, but why take the chance?
Whether or not you choose to avoid red meat, you should definitely cross processed meats like hot dogs, salami, and lunch meats off of your grocery list. In addition to elevating your risk of type 2 diabetes according to a 2013 study, processed meats are high in sodium and preservatives like nitrites, which, according to WebMD, have been linked to colon cancer.
French Fries and Potato Chips
Fried potatoes may do more harm than just increasing your intake of fat and sodium. In fact, the frying process in potatoes also creates a substance called acrylamide, which is a known carcinogen.
Most of the studies focusing on the adverse effects of energy drinks have detailed the issue of caffeine overdose. This is a fairly rare occurrence, but if you tend to get your caffeine from energy drinks, you may want to be aware of the huge amount of sugar and associated calories that these drinks pack in. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, energy drinks can also be dangerous for people with diabetes, heart conditions, and neurologic diseases.
It’s not so much about what white flour does; rather it’s about what you’re missing out on if you choose white flour over whole grains. Two studies in Obesity found that substituting whole grains for white flour is linked to lower incidence of type 2 diabetes as well as lower BMI.
Debates continue to rage about whether or not artificial sweeteners cause cancer and health problems, but recent research is leaning in the not-so-great direction. Last year, the American Society for Nutrition published a study that linked diet soda with leukemia. Plus, artificial sweeteners don’t actually make you feel satiated, so you’re likely to wind up consuming the calories you were trying to avoid anyway.
A WebMD feature on MedicineNet reports that although frozen meals are often marketed as being super healthy, most of them fall quite short of that lofty goal. Often, they contain a significant amount of fat per calorie and a huge amount of sodium, as well as tons of preservatives. The portion sizes may also restrict your calorie intake too much, which can trick your body into holding onto every last calorie because it thinks you’re starving.