Food Matters asked seven experts a simple question: “What foods do you avoid?” Here are some of their eye-opening responses:
The seven supermarket foods featured by Food Matters all belong on the list of foods to avoid, for sure—although I wouldn’t limit fruits to avoid to conventional apples. I recommend checking out the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, which lists fruits and vegetables that contain the highest and lowest amounts of pesticides, as many are far more contaminated than apples. After all, you can peel an apple, but berries, for example, cannot be rid of pesticides, and many berries are heavily sprayed. I’d also like to add a few more foods to this list, effectively turning it into a Dirty Dozen list of foods to avoid when shopping at your local grocery store.
Make no mistake about it; genetically modified (GM) foods may be one of the absolute most dangerous aspects of our food supply today. I strongly recommend avoiding ALL GM foods. Since over 90 percent of all corn grown in the US is GM corn, and over 95 percent all soy is GM soy, this means that EVERY processed food you encounter at your local supermarket that does not bear the “USDA Organic” label likely contains one or more GM components. To avoid GM foods, first memorize the following list of well-known and oft-used GM crops:
|Corn||Canola||Alfalfa (New GM crop as of 2011)|
|Soy||Cottonseed||Sugar derived from sugar beets|
The following fresh produce are also commonly GM:
To effectively avoid GM foods, you need to avoid all products that list corn, soy, canola, and any of their derivatives as an ingredient, unless it’s labeled USDA 100% Organic. I also recommend downloading the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology, for more information about specific brands and products that do not use GM ingredients. You can also get the guide as a free iPhone application. It’s available in the iTunes store—just search for ShopNoGMO in the applications. It is important to remember to look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal. This seal assures that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. Many health food stores carry these products. Please understand that unless you’re buying all organic food, or grow your own veggies and raise your own livestock, or at the very least buy all whole foods (even if conventionally grown) and cook everything from scratch, chances are you’re consuming GM foods every single day… What ultimate impact these GM foods will have on your health is still unknown, but increased disease, infertility and birth defects appear to be on the top of the list of most likely side effects.
Additional exceedingly health-harming ingredients that you’re bound to get in excess if you consume processed foods, soda, and other sweetened beverages, is fructose—typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Evidence is mounting that excess sugar, and fructose in particular, is the primary factor causing not just obesity, but also chronic and lethal disease. In fact, I am convinced that fructose is one of the leading causes of a great deal of needless suffering from poor health and premature death. Many conventional health “experts,” contend that sugar and fructose in moderation is perfectly okay and part of a normal “healthy” diet. I couldn’t disagree more. The central issue behind my vigorous objection to this stance is that fructose is now used in virtually all processed foods (whether you’d suspect the food would contain a sweetener or not). Case in point: the number one source of calories in the US is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the form of soda! Now, if you’re able to keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day then it’s not going to cause any major health issues. Unfortunately, while this is theoretically possible, precious few people are actually doing that. Cutting out a few desserts will not make a big difference if you’re still eating a “standard American diet”—in fact, I’ve previously written about how various foods and beverages contain far more sugar than a glazed doughnut. Because of the prevalence of HFCS in foods and beverages, the average person now consumes 1/3 of a pound of sugar EVERY DAY, which is five ounces or 150 grams, half of which is fructose. That’s 300 percent more than the amount that will trigger biochemical havoc. Remember that is the AVERAGE; many actually consume more than twice that amount. For more details about the health dangers of fructose and my recommendations, please see my recent article Eliminate This ONE Ingredient and Watch Your Health Soar.
Once you’ve made the decision to drastically cut down on sugar and fructose, please do NOT make the mistake of replacing it with artificially sweetened foods and beverages. It’s important to understand that these are toxic substances that can wreak havoc in your body. Artificial sweeteners, just like fructose, are also extremely prevalent in processed foods. Aspartame, for example, can be found in more than 6,000 products. Not only have studies shown that “diet” foods and drinks ruin your body’s ability to count calories, boosting your risk of weight gain, but they’ve also been associated with a slew of negative health effects, such as intestinal damage, diabetes, brain damage, pre-term delivery and cancer, just to name a few of the more serious ramifications. Acesulfame potassium (or Acesulfame-K) is yet another artificial sweetener, which has been linked to kidney tumors.
Plain, pure water is by far the most healthful beverage you can conceive of. You need water in order to survive. However, slick marketing campaigns have managed to turn an essential part of your diet into a pure disaster… Leave it to the food and beverage industry to find a way to turn perfectly healthful water into a toxic slurry. I’m talking about flavored water, “zero calorie” water, and so-called “enhanced” or “functional” water products. For example, the latest water enhancement product to hit the market is called MiO, which is a mixture of two artificial sweeteners, three dyes, one preservative, and propylene glycol (PG)—a solvent that can potentially result in cell mutations and skin, liver, and kidney damage, if ingested in high enough amounts. I recently completed a special report on this and related water products, which will be posted shortly. If you aren’t already an avid label reader, it’s time you became one, lest you fall prey to these clever marketing ploys. Enhanced waters have become an enormously lucrative business as people have begun to abandon soda for what they believe are better alternatives. Avoid being fooled! Because in addition to artificial sweeteners and dyes, these enhanced water products can also contain enormous amounts of sugar and fructose, adding to the numerous health problems caused by excessive fructose consumption. For example, Glaceau VitaminWater (made by the Coca-Cola Company) has a whopping 33 grams of sugar per 20-ounce bottle, which is only 6 grams less than a can of Coke. Additionally, the fructose found in VitaminWater is the worst possible kind—crystalline fructose—which is even more damaging to your health than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Crystalline fructose is 99 percent fructose, whereas HFCS is only 55 percent fructose! Clearly, any type of water but PLAIN purified water is NOT going to improve your health, and should be avoided entirely.
Lastly, processed meats, such as hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, and pepperoni contain dangerous compounds, which put them squarely on the list of foods to avoid or eliminate entirely. These compounds include:
This recommendation is backed up by a recent report commissioned by The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). The review, which evaluated the findings of more than 7,000 clinical studies, was funded by money raised from the general public, so the findings were not influenced by vested interests. It’s also the biggest review of the evidence ever undertaken, and it confirms previous findings: Processed meats increase your risk of cancer, especially bowel cancer, and NO amount of processed meat is “safe.” A previous analysis by the WCRF found that eating just one sausage a day raises your risk of developing bowel cancer by 20 percent, and other studies have found that processed meats increase your risk of:
Processed meats may also increase your risk of diabetes by 50 percent, and lower your lung function and increase your risk ofchronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you absolutely want or need a hot dog or other processed meats once in awhile, you can reduce your risk by:
Ideally, purchase sausages and other processed meats from a small, local farmer who can tell you exactly what’s in their products.