Most of us want to buy better-for-us foods when we can, but it’s a tough world out there. Product labels are misleading, and many of our foods have changed significantly in the past couple decades. To help you out, the following are the 5 most common unhealthy foods you’ll want to watch out for:
You want a tasty, lean protein, and of course you always hear that salmon is full of good fats that are beneficial for our heart, joints, and brains. However, most people are choosing genetically modified and farmed salmon, without realizing this “food” is completely different from it’s wild-harvested cousin. Farmed salmon is actually higher in pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids, and low in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. Check your labels and always buy wild.
2. Butter Substitutes
For years people have been looking for substitutes for butter, believing myths that it is bad for your heart, it makes you fat, it raises cholesterol, or it is just plain terrible for our bodies. Now our market is flooded with dozens of butter substitutes- all terribly unhealthy. Margarine is a trans-fat, and is infamous for causing breast cancer, colon cancer, and arteriosclerosis. Equally unsavory substitutes include products like Smart Balance Buttery Spread, Promise Take Control, Earth Balance, I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter, and sprays like Parkay and Pam. These products are generally loaded with genetically modified vegetable oils which are linked to cancer, artificial colors which can cause behavioral problems and nerve damage, preservatives like potassium sorbate which can cause digestive issues and nutrient loss, and trans fats. I recommend buying the real deal, as there are so many benefits to real butter. If you are dairy-free, try coconut oil as a healthy substitute.
3. Gatorade & Powerade
Sports drinks are some of the unhealthiest products you’ll ever find in a grocery store. There are more toxic chemicals than there are electrolytes. The most appalling ingredient is brominated vegetable oil- banned in over 100 countries for causing infertility, birth defects, memory loss, nerve disorders, and cardiac arrhythmia. I always hear- “But it has electrolytes!” If you were to add electrolytes to paint thinner, would it suddenly make it a healthy paint-thinning drink? Nope! The presence of electrolytes does not make any product any less toxic. I always recommend nature’s ultimate sports drink- coconut water. Nirvana is my absolute favorite brand, and it tastes like pure heaven.
4. Cow Milk
Nope, nope, nope. Let me count the reasons why this beverage is a recipe for disaster. Found in all non-organic grocery store milks: pesticides, herbicides, synthetic growth hormones, naturally occurring growth hormones, antibiotics, pus (yes, pus!), xanthine oxidase (a free radical), etc. Which translates to cancer, heart disease, inflammation, antibiotic resistance, allergies, impaired immunity, and many more. There is also a complete lack of nutrients that should be in milk: enzymes, beneficial bacteria, & vitamins (unless added synthetically, like vitamin D). If you want real, nutritious milk, you’ll want to drink it the way nature intended, the way milk always was since the beginning of time until we humans started messing it up about 50 years ago- real, unprocessed, organic, and raw. Don’t do dairy? Try flax milk, hemp milk, or almond milk.
5. “Whole Grain” Cereals
Cheerios, Fiber One Cereal, Mini Wheats, Special K, Kix, All Bran, Chex, etc. Not a single one is healthy. These are prime examples of processed grains- while they do start as whole grains, the end product is nowhere close. They are stripped of nutrients during processing, which is why you’ll see fiber, synthetic b vitamins and iron are added back in to make them appear nutritious. Processed grains like these greatly contribute to obesity and diabetes. The extrusion process, by which almost all cereals are made, is also considered controversial. In Paul Stitt‘s book “Fighting the Food Giants,” he discusses the results of a study found locked up at a major food company, suggesting the extrusion process makes the grain’s proteins toxic. The alternative is easy- just make real, unprocessed grains for breakfast. I make a quick quinoa cereal that I reheat every morning, made with whole quinoa, blueberries, raw honey, hemp seeds, flax milk, dates, and vanilla. It’s delicious, and contains over SIXTY naturally occurring nutrients, putting these store-bought cereals to shame.
Megan M. Kerkhoff
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