Not-So-Safe Foods You Should Avoid
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1. Canned Tomatoes Many canned foods contain BPA, a toxic chemical linked to reproductive and neurological abnormalities, such as breast and prostate cancers, diabetes and heart disease. High acidity in tomatoes causes BPA to leach into your food. Consumer Reports‘ testing noted that only a few servings per day exceeds safety limits for children. To avoid this, don’t purchase canned foods. Stick to fresh fruits and vegetables or buy only glass containers, especially for acidic foods like tomatoes.
2. Processed Meats A 2011 review of more than 7,000 clinical studies, commissioned by The World Cancer Research Fund examined the connection between diet and cancer confirmed previous findings that processed meats like ham and salami increase colorectal, stomach and pancreatic cancers. Processed meats should be avoided entirely because they’re typically made from animals injected with growth hormones, antibiotics and sodium nitrite, which can convert into cancer-causing nitrosamines. Other cancer-promoting chemicals proliferate when cooked at high temperatures, such as:
- Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs), associated with increased stomach, colon and breast cancer risk;
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), toxins formed when meats are smoke-cured or grilled as fat drips onto the heat source;
- Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), formed by pasteurization and sterilization, building slowly in your body and promoting oxidative stress, inflammation and increased disease risk.
A better choice: Find a source for fresh organically-raised, grass-fed meats or wild caught salmon.
3. Margarine Unfortunately, the “low-fat diet” craze advised shunning butter and other healthful fats, to the detriment of the public. But unhealthy butter impostors like margarine, shortenings and spreads contain:
- Trans fats, which turn vegetable oils into solid fat, contribute to a number of serious diseases, including heart disease, cancer, hormonal imbalance, infertility, low birth weight, growth problems and learning disabilities in children.
- Free radicals and other toxic breakdown products, resulting from high-temperature processing and contributing to cancer and heart disease.
- Hexane and other solvents, potentially toxic industrial chemicals.
Butter is often vilified because it contains saturated fat, but good old-fashioned butter from grass-fed cows is rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), known to not only help fight cancer and diabetes but possibly promote weight loss. If you still believe saturated fat is harmful for your health, read the Healthy Fats section of my Optimized Nutrition Plan to learn why saturated fat is actually good for you!
4. Vegetable Oils Some of the WORST foods are those cooked with polyunsaturated vegetable oils like canola, corn and soy. For one thing, they distort the important omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. But high temperatures introduce oxidized cholesterol into your system, converting your good cholesterol into bad. This leads directly to vascular disease; hydrogenated oils increase your breast cancer and heart disease risk. Less susceptible to heat damage, coconut oil is best for cooking. For more information, read this special report.
5. Microwave Popcorn Perfluoroalkyls, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are chemicals designed to prevent grease from saturating fast food wrappers, such as microwave popcorn bags. When heated, these compounds leach into the popcorn; when ingested, they show up as blood contaminants. Ruled as “likely carcinogens” by the EPA, they’re part of an expanding group of “gender-bending” chemicals that can disrupt your endocrine system, sex hormones and cause “developmental and reproductive risks to humans,” and:
- Infertility – A study published in the journal Human Reproduction found PFOA and PFOS dramatically increase infertility odds;
- Thyroid disease – A 2010 study found that PFOA can damage thyroid function.
- Cancer – PFOA has been associated with tumors in animal organs (liver, pancreas, testicles and mammary glands in rats), and increases in prostate cancer in PFOA plant workers.
- Immune system problems – Several Swedish studies showed adverse immune system effects from PFCs. An environmental Working Group (EWG) study showed they cause immunosupression and decrease all immune cell subpopulations in the thymus and spleen.
- Increased LDL cholesterol levels – A 2010 study in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found that children and teens with higher PFOA levels had higher total cholesterol and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels.
Non-stick cookware also should be avoided.
6. Non-Organic Potatoes and High Pesticide-Contaminated Fresh Produce Not all conventionally grown fruits and vegetables contain the same pesticides. While Koch notes how easily potatoes absorb agricultural chemicals, I’d recommend reviewing EWG’s 2013 “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” and buying organic when possible. Of the 48 different fruit and vegetables tested, the following had the highest pesticide load:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Collard greens
- Summer squash
Conventionally grown vegetables with the lowest residual pesticide load are:
- Sweet corn (non-GMO)
- Papayas (non-GMO. Most Hawaiian papaya is GMO)
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Sweet potatoes
7. Table Salt Salt is essential. You can’t live without it. However, ‘table salt’ and the salt found in processed foods are NOT the same. One is health damaging; the other is healing.
- Processed salt is 98% sodium chloride. The rest comprises dangerous, man-made chemicals such as ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate.
- Natural salt is about 84% sodium chloride. The remainder consists of other naturally occurring minerals, including the trace minerals silicon, phosphorous and vanadium.
Unrefined natural salt is important to many biological processes, including:
- Your blood plasma, lymphatic fluid – even amniotic fluid;
- Circulating nutrients though your cells;
- Maintaining and regulating blood pressure;
- Increasing glial brain cells for creative thinking and planning;
My recommendation is pure, unrefined salt, such as an ancient, all-natural Himalayan sea salt.
8. Soy Protein Isolate and Other Unfermented Soy Products Sadly, the good press about soy is mostly untrue; 90 to 95 percent of U.S.-grown soybeans, used to create soy protein isolate, are “Roundup ready” aka genetically engineered to withstand lethal doses of herbicide. The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, which disrupts the delicate balance of the female reproductive cycle. Toxic to the placenta; even a small amount can result in miscarriage or serious birth defects. Glyphosate’s mechanism of harm induces many of our modern diseases, including autism.
Dr. Kaayla Daniels offers a free report, “Where the Soys Are,” listing many “aliases” soy often hides under (“bouillon,” “textured plant protein”). Soy protein isolates are in found in protein bars, bottled fruit drinks, soups, sauces, meat substitutes, baked goods, cereals and dietary supplements.
Thousands of studies link unfermented soy products to a long list of diseases. Learn more by reading dangers of unfermented soy.
9. Artificial Sweeteners Contrary to popular belief, studies reveal artificial sweeteners like aspartame as appetite stimulators. In one recent study, saccharin and aspartame were found to cause greater weight gain than sugar.
If you’ve heard aspartame is harmless because methanol is also found in fruits and vegetables, it’s because that methanol is firmly bonded to pectin, allowing it to be safely passed through your digestive tract. Animals have a protective mechanism allowing the breakdown of methanol into harmless formic acid, but humans don‘t. That’s why animal toxicology is a flawed model; it doesn’t fully apply to people. For optimum food safety and nutrition, the best place to shop is from a sustainable agricultural group in your area. Review my free nutrition plan to get started on a healthy eating program today.
For more by Dr. Joseph Mercola, click here.