Reduce your intake of these 11 foods and take control of your health
The more we learn about nutrition, the more we discover that the processes we use to make food delicious and preserveable strip away what makes food nutritious.
While eating highly processed foods can sometimes be offset by a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and proteins, some food preparations simply don’t bring much nutrition to the table. When the following foods make up the main part of your diet (or if you don’t also benefit from foods lower in oil or foods higher in fiber), they have been associated with negative health outcomes.
It’s okay to have some processed options in your diet, but you should moderate these 11 foods for better health.
11 types of foods that can negatively affect your health
While the following foods are particularly lacking in nutritional value, the point of paying attention to this list is less about completely omitting each item and more about realizing how little you’re adding to your diet. We do not advise you to completely avoid these foods as food restriction may cause this to happen Disordered eating. The main idea here is that it’s okay to eat the foods on the list, as long as you’re also eating nutrient-dense foods that provide you with the vitamins and minerals you need.
Many of the following foods contain highly refined grains and large amounts of trans fats or other processed fats that are difficult for the body to use effectively. Dietary sources simply lack many essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, which promotes gut health. Over time, depriving your body of many vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains may lead to deficiencies that have medical symptoms.
White bread is made from a type of bread flour that is processed from wheat. Processing removes the bran and germ: parts of the wheat grain. Whole wheat will generally be darker and denser, since it contains more nutrients and more fiber. These two aspects are great for digestion and give your body the nutrition it needs. White bread has a nice mild flavor but is made from just the endosperm of the wheat grain, and has less nutritional value. Instead, choose whole grain bread, which is rich in essential nutrients.
To learn more about how complex carbohydrates can help keep you healthy, check out this Why should you eat more carbs, not less?.
Many of the reasons why eating too many potato chips may be harmful is that they do not provide… balanced Source of calories. The amount of oil and simple carbohydrates it contains makes it calorie-dense, but it’s not full of beneficial nutrients like vitamins. Potato chips without any preservatives are a good choice for the occasional indulgence, but eating nothing but potato chips for a meal will leave your body craving more vitamins, protein and fiber.
French fries contain many of the same nutrients as potato chips, although there are more actual potatoes in French fries. However, the crunchiness of your French fries doesn’t have to be a result of deep-fat frying, which contains too much oil if you eat them often. In an air fryer, you can still get a thin layer of oil (or even zero oil) for a batch of low-salt homemade French fries made with just potatoes. If your diet already contains enough oil, this may be a good way to get a crunchy treat without exceeding your daily value.
Chicken is a delicious lean protein, but breading and fried chicken tends to contain a ton of white flour, oil, and salt. These three ingredients are fine in moderation, but choosing grilled chicken or air-fried chicken can help you cut back on unhealthy ingredients if you’re already getting more than the recommended amount.
In general, processed meats contain few nutrients that are associated with negative medical outcomes when consumed in excess. Meat processing sometimes includes the addition of nitrates and nitrites, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer when consumed in moderation. Sodium is also incorporated into processed meats at fairly significant levels. Whenever possible, cook and eat fresh meat.
Like eating sweets, sugary cereals often contain a lot of simple carbohydrates and sugars and less protein, fiber and vitamins. As a breakfast option, sugary cereals can also cause low blood sugar, making you feel hungry soon after eating the cereal. Choosing low-sugar cereals that contain more protein and fiber, as well as plant-based milks or dairy products, can help you feel full and energized for longer.
Margarine was used when the saturated fats in butter were seen as negative for our health. However, ghee is different: in some countries, it contains harmful trans fats that the body cannot easily process, and in many cases it contains a similar amount of processed saturated fat. Read the label or choose a less processed oil, such as olive oil, as a baking topping if you really want to cut butter from your diet.
Not all frozen entrees are created equal – frozen vegetables and cooked chicken, for example, are sometimes low in preservatives and are a great way to eat if you need comfort food. However, for pre-prepared meals, check the types of food and other items in your meal, especially if you are concerned about preservatives or colors in your diet.
A box of macaroni and cheese
While some prominent brands of mac and cheese are high in harmful chemicals, the main reason they are considered unhealthy is due to their high amount of simple carbohydrates and fats and low nutritional value. If you love mac and cheese, don’t despair: There are a variety of versions now that contain either whole grains, vegetables like cauliflower, and lower levels of preservatives and fat.
Cakes, donuts, and other baked goods can be delicious. But they can also be loaded with simple carbohydrates and saturated fats. In addition, they contain very little fiber, protein or vitamins. However, if you make your own baked goods, it’s easy to make a treat that provides more nutrition, whether that’s substituting some whole wheat flour, replacing trans fats with butter or adding fruit or grated zucchini to boost the vitamin content.