Processed meats form part of the modern diet. Cured meats such as ham and corned beef and smoked meats like salami are ideal for sandwiches. Dried meat like jerky is a favorite snack. If you’re eating too many of these meats, you’re putting your health at risk. Several ingredients used during the processing of the meat are not good for you. Nitrite or sodium nitrite is added to processed meat. It helps to retain the color of the meat, improves the flavor, and preserves the meat by preventing the growth of bacteria. Nitrite occurs naturally in many vegetables.
The nitrite used in making processed meat is not the same. It converts into N-nitroso compounds which include nitrosamines. Animal studies have concluded that nitrosamines can play a part in forming bowel cancer cells. Sodium chloride used in meat processing results in high salt levels which can cause hypertension. Meat smoking is used to preserve the product. During smoking cancer-causing carcinogens like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) transfer to the surface of the meat from the smoke in the air. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) generally occur when meat is cooked at high speed at hot temperatures. Sausages and meat burgers may have significant quantities of HCAs in them.
We know that refined sugar is bad for us, but we like sweet things. The obvious solution is to use artificial sugar. Nothing could be further from the truth. Artificial sugars are just as bad for you as refined sugar, if not worse. While artificial sugars are sugar-free, that doesn’t mean they’re a healthy alternative. Artificial sugars do reduce the number of calories you consume compared to real sugar, therefore they can reduce the risk of obesity. There are five types of artificial sugars. They are saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. Artificial sugars are often sweeter than other sugars.
When consumed in large quantities over a significant period, artificial sugars can lead to the overstimulation of the sugar receptors. The result is that a food that a person may have perceived as sweet such as an apple no longer tastes sweet enough. They begin to avoid these healthier foods as they do not find their taste satisfying. People who use artificial sugars are prone to thinking they can consume other sugary foods. An example would be justifying eating some cake because you’re using artificial sugar in your coffee. This is a psychological response to using artificial sugars, which completely cancels out their effectiveness.
When we hear fruit juice, we assume it’s healthy. This supposition is not always correct. Some juices are highly nutritious. Others contain so much sugar that they are bad for you. When you’re shopping for juice, be conscious of the label. Juice cocktails and juice-flavored drinks are not 100% pure fruit juice. Juice forms only a fraction of their ingredients. The remainder consists of water and sweeteners like corn syrup which is rich in fructose. These beverages are high in sugar and low in nutrients.
Another problem with juice is that much of the fiber of the original fruit is lost. It is for this reason that nutritionists recommend eating the whole fruit instead of only drinking the juice. For many parents, juice is the only way they can get their children to consume fruit. Even so, juice should be limited to one glass a day, preferably diluted with water. Sometimes, preservatives are added to store-bought juices. It’s preferable to juice your fruit yourself to make sure it’s free of sweeteners and preservatives. Choose fruits rich in antioxidants for juice. These include berries and grapes. Best of all, you can make your own fruit juice combination to suit your tastes.
Bacon is tasty, and most people cannot contemplate eating a full breakfast without a generous serving of bacon. We’ve grown up with bacon as part of our diets, and the idea of it being unhealthy is unfathomable. But there are some facts about bacon that show it’s not something you should be eating too regularly. Bacon is cured and smoked. In the curing phase, the bacon is soaked in salt and nitrates. On occasion, the mixture includes sugar. For most types of bacon, smoking follows the curing process. Salt and nitrates prevent bacteria from infecting the bacon, giving it longer shelf life.
There is a lot of fat in bacon. About half of it is monounsaturated fats, 40% is saturated fat, and 10% is polyunsaturated fat. Significant levels of cholesterol are present in bacon. The monounsaturated fats in bacon include oleic acid which is seen as a healthy fat. Saturated fats are dangerous if consumed in excessive amounts. They present the risk of heart disease. The high salt content in bacon as a result of the curing process means bacon contains a lot of salt. Too much salt can cause high blood pressure. In time, hypertension can lead to heart disease.
The fact that sausages aren’t that good for your health should come as no surprise. Processed meats have been labeled as carcinogenic to humans which is not encouraging news. And sausages are purely processed meats. The first thing that should make you think twice about eating sausages is the main ingredients. Sausages are made from an array of minced meats. Some sausages are made from all the leftover meat in meat processing plants. This meat combination is placed in a sheath made from animal intestines.
The processing of meat involves high levels of salt to cure the meat and prevent bacterial growth. Sodium is an effective preservative, but it is not healthy if consumed in high quantities. The kidneys need to process all that salt. This leads to eventual kidney disease or failure. Sausages also contain nitrates. These substances convert to cancer-causing carcinogens during the cooking and eating process. Sausages include high levels of saturated fat. It’s part of what gives them their delicious taste. Saturated fats can cause heart disease if they are consumed in significant quantities. Nutritionists recommend that, if you’re going to eat sausages, you don’t fry them. The additional oil piles onto the fat intake which most of us can ill afford.
Muffins are misleading as they masquerade as a healthy snack. They are not a breakfast substitute; they’re cake. And few people eat cake for breakfast. That means that muffins are not healthy snacks. A store-bought muffin has, on average, more than 400 calories in it. And that’s the regular-sized muffins. Jumbo muffins, made to appeal to our love of muffins, are even worse. Store-bought muffins are baked to stay fresher for longer. Additives are included in the recipe to make sure muffins have a longer shelf life than they ordinarily would. Store owners do not want to find themselves having to throw muffins away as they expire too soon. Additives are artificial and are not desirable for your body.
Muffins are made from refined flour and sugar. In the refining process, flour loses much of its nutritional value. Refined sugar does nothing except give you a momentary sugar rush. When the rush is over, you’re hungry again and looking for another muffin. The oil used in the baking of muffins adds to our daily fat intake. These ingredients are in all muffins, even the healthiest options like bran muffins. A bran muffin is the best type of muffin to eat as it at least offers you some fiber.
We all have that one friend who is a chocoholic. You might even be that friend! Chocolate is a firm favorite as a snack. The problem with chocolate is that you can barely walk through any store without being confronted with it. It is used to market special occasions like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and Christmas. The chocolate industry generates billions of dollars each year. Chocolate is made from cocoa. 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa. The crop is also grown in other tropical regions near to the Equator around the globe.
There have been instances where high levels of heavy metals including cadmium and lead were registered in raw cocoa and processed chocolate. In large quantities, heavy metal consumption leads to heavy metal poisoning which can be fatal. Chocolate contains a lot of sugar. It includes a high number of calories. That’s why it tastes so great. Excessive consumption of sugar can lead to obesity. It is widely accepted that excessive ingestion of chocolate can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Chocolate has also been documented as a common migraine trigger. The research indicates that the tyramine, histamine, and phenylalanine in chocolate are responsible.
Here’s another guilty pleasure most of us indulge in even though we shouldn’t. No fast food meal (aside from pizza, perhaps) is complete without French fries. Studies have found that French fries are more dangerous as part of your diet than other potato dishes. That leaves us with only one conclusion: it’s the ‘fry’ in French fries that is the problem. The problem with French fries is the trans-fats in the oil in which they are fried. Another factor that causes them to be unhealthy is the added salt. A lesser known issue with French fries is a chemical called acrylamide. This chemical appears in significant quantities in overcooked fried potatoes.
Animal studies have shown that there is a link between high levels of acrylamide and cancer. The odds of it posing a similar risk to humans is high. Experts suggest you get your potato fix from dishes other than French Fries. The fat from the oils using in making French fries contributes to weight gain. At fast food outlets, oil is used more than once. The chemical composition of oil changes each time it is heated. There are compounds released from this breakdown that can be hazardous to your health.
Bisphenol A is known as BPA. It is an industrial chemical utilized in the manufacture of some plastics. BPA has been around since the 1960s. One of the plastics that contain BPA is polycarbonate plastics. These plastics are used in food storage containers such as water bottles and sandwich containers. Epoxy resins also include BPA. These resins are used to coat the inside of food and beverage cans. BPA seeps into the food and beverages it touches. When we consume these products, we ingest BPA. At low levels, BPA does not pose a significant risk to humans. However, sustained exposure can have severe medical repercussions.
BPA disrupts the balance of hormones needed for the body to function correctly. There is ongoing research into a link between BPA exposure and hypertension. When it comes to avoiding BPA, you need to be conscious of the plastics you expose yourself to. One of the reasons many countries plan to ban single-use plastics is the risk of BPA exposure. Heating these plastics in a microwave or dishwasher presents even more danger. The BPA breaks down and finds its way into your food with greater ease. Experts also advise minimizing the amount of canned food and beverages you consume.
Popcorn is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It’s what you do with the popcorn that makes it unhealthy. Popcorn is a rich source of antioxidants such as polyphenols which protect cells from harm. The healthiest way to cook popcorn is using an air popper in the microwave. Make sure you buy one made from high-quality plastic that doesn’t contain BPA. Popcorn cooked on the stove in a little oil is less healthy, but not dangerously so. You can prepare your popcorn healthily, but what do you do with it afterward? Do you drown it in salt and butter? If the answer is yes, you’re making a perfectly healthy snack unhealthy.
The real culprit is prepackaged microwave popcorn. The lining of the bag poses medical hazards to you. The lining is made of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This substance is also used in non-stick cookware. When PFOA is exposed to heat, there is the potential to increase the risk of getting cancer or becoming infertile. One of the flavoring agents in microwave popcorn is called diacetyl. This chemical can increase the risk of bronchiolitis obliterans, a lung condition that causes breathing difficulties and scarring of the airways in the lungs.
Potatoes are a paradox. On the one hand, they are viewed as unhealthy as they are starchy. This makes them a high-glycemic food which poses a risk to blood sugar levels. Potatoes break down into quickly after ingestion. Sugar levels rise, and insulin is released to bring them back to equilibrium. As with any food that breaks down speedily, potatoes don’t do much to satisfy your hunger pangs. You’ll feel full for a while, but then your appetite returns. The quick breakdown also means that you’ll have a short boost of energy followed by a slump. During this slump, you’ll be tempted to look for more carbs to eat.
On the other, they are high in fiber which is essential for proper digestion. They are a good source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. When it comes to potatoes, the problem is not the potato itself; it’s what you add to it. Deep-frying potatoes in oil adds a lot of fat to them. Mashing them and adding butter and cream to the mix does the same thing. Drowning them in condiments only adds extra sugar and preservatives to your meal. Keep potato portions small and limit what to add to them.
Keeping a frozen pizza in the freezer for an emergency is something most people would admit to. Frozen pizzas are ideal for a simple supper after a long day. When unexpected guests descend on your home for dinner, you can accommodate them with frozen pizza. If only they were as good for you as they are easy to prepare. Whether fresh or frozen, pizza isn’t exactly a healthy meal. A pizza contains high levels of sodium, fats, and refined carbs from the flour. Toppings like sausages and ham are processed meats which are bad for you. Too many slices of pizza and you’re on your way to issues with your weight, cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Frozen pizza adds an extra hazard to the mix. There are many preservatives, colorants, and additives in frozen pizza. As with any artificial additions to food products, they are considerably less healthy than fresh products. You will find additional salt used as a preservative to lengthen the shelf life of the pizza. Elevated levels of salt can cause high blood pressure. Prolonged high blood pressure can lead to heart disease. Not all frozen pizzas contain dangerous levels of salt. Check the label before you buy the product.
From the time we’re very young, cow’s milk forms part of our daily food intake. It is rich in calcium which builds strong bones and teeth. Cow’s milk is the basis of all dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and ice-cream. There are a few things to consider when it comes to cow’s milk. First, a cow’s milk needs to be pasteurized. Pasteurization involves the heating and cooling of the milk to eliminate bacteria. Milk contains saturated fats, unsaturated fats, and cholesterol. Full-cream milk contains more than low-fat or skimmed milk.
The mass-production of milk means that massive herds of cows are kept by farmers and milked each day. Cows are fed hormones to make them grow and reach maturity faster than they usually would meet the demands of the market. These growth hormones are in the milk that we drink. The presence of hormones in cow’s milk is disturbing as it has been linked to slightly higher risks of prostate and ovarian cancer according to some studies. Cows are also given antibiotics to prevent the spread of diseases such as foot and mouth disease and anthrax. The antibiotics are transferred to the milk. Pasteurization doesn’t entirely eliminate hormones and antibiotics from the milk we drink.
Energy drinks seem to be more popular than ever, despite incontrovertible proof that they are not good for you. We reach for energy drinks when we need a physical and mental boost. The main ingredient in nearly every energy drink on the market is caffeine. The caffeine is supposed to stimulate the brain to help with focus and concentration. It is also meant to give your body a rush of energy. Another key ingredient that makes most energy drinks effectively is sugar. Sugar makes up the bulk of the calories in energy drinks, aside from those that are sugar-free. Bear in mind that sugar-free means that there is a reasonable probability that artificial sugars have been added instead of refined sugar.
The effects of the caffeine and sugar combination in energy drinks may include increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. Many people have experienced palpitations after consuming three or more energy drinks in quick succession. The sugar in energy drinks can lead to a blood sugar spike upon ingestion. The body produces insulin to sort out glucose levels. When the pancreas is continuously on the defense, producing more and more insulin, diabetes is likely to follow.