When it comes to healthy eating, it's easy to get caught in the crossfire of conflicting information regarding the nutritional merits of certain foods. While most dieting experts agree that you can get away with a certain amount of leniency in your eating choices, there are some foods that should be completely off limits at all times. Below are five foods to never eat - it's a good idea to permanently delete these from your grocery list.
The original selling point for margarine was the fact that it's made from vegetable oil, which means that it contains less saturated fat and cholesterol than butter. As nutritional research has advanced, the tide is turning back in butter's favor, as recent studies are indicating that the natural cholesterol contained in butter may not be nearly as harmful as has been widely reported. One of the biggest strikes against margarine is the fact that it contains trans fats, which are notorious for clogging arteries. A much more viable alternative is olive oil, or just good old-fashioned butter.
2. Carbonated drinks
This is a tough one, but the facts speak for themselves. The average can of soda contains about 40 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent of about 10 teaspoons of granulated sugar. When you dump this much sugar into your system at one time, you're basically forcing your body to produce excess amounts of insulin, a hormone which helps to regulate blood glucose levels. When this excess insulin doesn't have anywhere to go, the body is put under a type of stress that can produce symptoms of diabetes.
If that isn't enough, the dyes that are used to give soft drinks their coloring (whether brown, orange, purple or otherwise) are often comprised of chemicals that can put you at a higher risk of developing various forms of cancer. Now this is not to say that you can't have a can of soda every now and again (maybe once every month or so), but if you want to stay healthy, carbonated drinks should not be a regularly stocked item in your refrigerator.
3. "Sugar-free" foods that contain artificial sweeteners
Although foods containing high amounts of sugar can be detrimental to your long-term health, the so-called "healthy" foods that are advertised as being "sugar-free" also need to be thoroughly vetted before you toss them into the shopping cart. Many of these artificial sweeteners have been linked to all kinds of health problems, ranging from the slightly bothersome to the outright deadly.
Aspartame, one of the most popular artificial sweeteners on the market, is partially comprised of methanol, which is a type of grain alcohol. Once it has been ingested, methanol actually breaks down into formaldehyde, which is widely recognized as a potent neurotoxin; this doesn't sound very beneficial at all. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and other synthetic chemicals simply don't break down properly in the digestive system, which can lead to a host of physical ailments.
4. Sugary cereals for kids
It's no secret that brightly-colored cereal boxes with cool graphics are appealing to kids and adults alike, but what is often not emphasized is the fact that many of these cereals contain high amounts of sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients that have no nutritional value whatsoever. Certain preservatives, flavoring agents and texture enhancers are also added to these cereals, many of which have been shown to pose health risks. If cereal is an absolute must-have for your morning, opt instead for low-sugar, organic varieties that leave out all of these somewhat mysterious and potentially harmful ingredients.
5. Prepackaged "convenience" foods (e.g., frozen dinners, etc.)
The majority of prepackaged "meal-in-a-box" foods typically contain an extensive string of relatively unpronouncable ingredients that are largely incompatible with the human body. For example, one of the most popular additives found in prepackaged foods is BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), which has been linked to liver and lung tumors in animal tests. While it's true that humans and animals may react differently to certain chemicals or ingredients, it's best to limit your exposure to these types of questionable multi-syllabic ingredients as much as possible.
While consuming some of the foods listed above may not immediately lead to major health problems, the objective is to maintain as healthy of a lifestyle as possible. After all, the ultimate goal of healthy eating is to look and feel your best, and one of the best ways to do this is to keep the items listed above as extreme exceptions rather than the rule.