Let’s face it: there are grocery and convenience stores (not to mention schools and school vending machines) that are full of chemical- and sugar-laced foods we should never eat. I’m frequently asked which ones are the worst. So, here are my picks for the top 10 worst foods you may be eating, in order, from terrible to tragic. The #1 Worst Food of All Time may surprise you!
10. Ice Cream—Sorry, I know just about everyone loves ice cream, but today’s ice cream is not only full of sugar, most of it is also loaded with trans fats, artificial colors and flavors, many of which are known neurotoxins (brain- and nervous-system damaging chemicals). Of course, there are healthier varieties, but most ice cream is hazardous to your health.
9. Corn and Tortilla Chips—Since the advent of genetically-modified foods, most corn we eat is a health-damaging frankenfood. Corn causes rapid blood sugar fluctuations, which you may notice as mood-swings, weight gain, or irritability, among other symptoms. Most are fried in oils that have turned rancid and are linked to inflammation.
8. Pizza—While not all pizza is bad, most of the commercially available and frozen pizza on the market is full of artificial dough conditioners and preservatives. It is made from white flour that has been bleached and reacts in your body just like sugar, causing weight gain and blood sugar imbalances.
7. French Fries—Not only do French fries typically contain trans fats that have been linked to a long list of diseases, they contain one of the most potent carcinogenic substances in food—acrylamide. Acrylamide is formed when white potatoes are heated at high temperatures. Additionally, most of the oils used for frying turn rancid in the presence of oxygen or at high temperatures, resulting in foods that cause inflammation in the body. And, researchers are discovering that inflammation is a factor in many serious health conditions, including: heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
6. Potato Chips—Potato chips offer all the health benefits (none) of French fries, but according to Health Canada, potato chips typically contain the highest levels of acrylamide, which is a carcinogen.
5. Bacon—Yes, bacon! Sorry bacon lovers. According to research in the journal, Circulation, daily consumption of processed meats like bacon can increase the risk of heart disease by 42 percent and diabetes by 19 percent. A study at the University of Columbia found that eating bacon 14 times a month was linked to damaged lung function and an increased risk of lung disease.
4. Hot Dogs—A study at the University of Hawaii found that consumption of hot dogs and other processed meats increased risk of pancreatic cancer by 67 percent. One of the ingredients found in both bacon and hot dogs is sodium nitrite. This carcinogen has been linked to leukemia in children and brain tumors in infants. Other studies show that sodium nitrate also promotes colorectal cancer.
3. Doughnuts—Most doughnuts are 35 to 40 percent trans fats—the worst kind of fat you can eat. Trans fats are linked to heart- and brain-diseases as well as cancer. That’s before you consider the sugar and artificial dough conditioners and food additives many doughnuts contain. The average doughnut also contains about 300 calories.
2. Soda—According to research reported by Dr. Joseph Mercola, “one can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories, 30 to 55 mg of caffeine, and is loaded with artificial food colors and sulphites.” That alone should make you rethink your soda habit. But, soda is also extremely acidic. It takes over 30 cups of pH-balanced water to neutralize the acidity of one cola. This acid residue can be extremely hard on the kidneys since they have to filter it. Additionally, the bones act as mineral reservoirs. Alkaline minerals like calcium are dumped into the blood to help neutralize acidity, which can weaken the bones over time. For more information on pH balance, check out my book, The Ultimate pH Solution. In studies, soda is also linked to osteoporosis, obesity, tooth decay, and heart disease.
1. Diet Soda—Diet soda is my choice for the Worst Food of All Time. Not only does diet soda contain most of the problems of regular soda, it contains aspartame, now called AminoSweet. According to research by Lynne Melcombe, author of Health Hazards of White Sugar, aspartame is linked to the following health conditions: anxiety attacks; binge-eating and sugar cravings; birth defects; blindness; brain tumors; chest pain; depression; dizziness; epilepsy; fatigue; headaches and migraines; hearing loss; heart palpitations; hyperactivity; insomnia; joint pain; learning disabilities; PMS; muscle cramps; reproductive problems; and even death. Aspartame’s effects can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, Epstein-Barr virus, Huntington’s chorea, hypothyroidism, Lou Gehrig’s disease; Lyme disease, Ménière’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and postpolio syndrome. That’s why I give Diet Soda the Worst Food of All Time award.
Adapted with permission from The Vitality Diet by Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, PhD, RNCP, ROHP.
Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, PhD, RNCP, ROHP