We know what you’re thinking. “What?! Avoid healthy foods?”
Yep, you heard us.
Now, of course, we don’t mean all healthy foods (as if we’d let you off the hook that easily). Instead, recent studies by food industry experts have targeted a few foods that, while they certainly have healthier reputations, are potentially hazardous because of the ways they are raised, grown and sold.
Below we’ve listed some of the worst offenders:
1. Frozen Dinners
Have you ever looked at the ingredients that appear on the back of your frozen dinner? Looks more like the components of a chemistry project than a nutritious meal. Add to that chemicals, additives, low fiber, and an extremely high sodium count.
2. Diet Soda
Research has now shown that diet soda can be detrimental not only to your waistline, but your overall health. It not only can actually encourage weight gain, but has been linked to various other conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
3. Multigrain Bread
Whole wheat has more essential nutrients and more dietary fiber – unless your multigrain bread is made with whole grain.
4. Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
Reduced-fat peanut butter generally contains more sodium and sugar than regular peanut butter.
5. Corn-Fed Beef
According to Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and farming author, cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. But more money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The study also found that grass-fed beef is lower in inflammatory omega-6s and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.
6. Light Salad Dressing
Yes, lower calories is generally a good thing. However, many salad dressings contain addition additives, while lacking the surprising health benefits that some regular salad dressings have, such being a good source of healthy fats.
7. Turkey Bacon
Turkey bacon is extremely high in sodium and additives.
8. Nonorganic Potatoes
Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout.
It won’t,” says Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board Moyer and farm director of the Rodale Institute. “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They actually have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”
Unfortunately, root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation’s most popular vegetable—they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting.
9. Farmed Salmon
When nature made salmon, she didn’t intend for them to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. Thanks to these unnatural conditions, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, and pesticides, such as dioxin and DDT.
“The most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus,” explains David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish. “Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks.”
As if all this wasn’t bad enough, there is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the very same drugs and chemicals.
10. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
Nearly 95 percent of African Americans are lactose intolerant, so technically there aren’t too many of us consuming much milk or milk products anyway. But for that lingering five percent, as well as those that do still try to eat some dairy products despite the intolerance, there’s reason to be concerned. Most milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
“When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society. “As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. While there’s not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”