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The top 10 worst foods for dieting

It’s becoming less and less of a secret how dangerous processed foods can be for your overall health and well-being.  Some foods can even raise your risk for certain types of cancers, like genetically modified corn and processed meats. Others can raise your blood pressure and take a toll on heart health. So I decided to come up with a list of some more common and super unhealthy processed foods that you should avoid at all costs. One thing is clear, some of the most heavily processed foods may have clear negative health consequences and should be avoided at all costs.

Now we have to realize that many of these foods are labelled as if they are healthy. Some brands use clever marketing tricks to convince you that you are making the healthiest choice when in fact you may not be. Much of what you are going to want to look for is in the ingredients, as a rule of thumb if you can’t pronounce it, it is likely processed and could potentially be bad for your health. The following should give you a good general overview of what you should watch for and if you are looking for ideas about healthier foods you should eat feel free to have a look at my “top 10 best diet foods” post by clicking here. Unfortunately our instant gratification culture, makes us oftentimes make unhealthy decisions when things like “fast”, “easy, and “convenient” wins over “healthy”, “organic” and “raw”. Without going any further, here’s the top 10 worst foods:


1) Processed meats with preservatives

Processed meats are one of the worst processed foods because they are often loaded with sodium, nitrates and other preservatives. Hot dogs, salami and bacon are a few good example here; loaded with fats, fillers and lacking nutritional value. Scientists are making clear connections with processed meats and higher incidences of cancers like cancer of the bowl.

Researchers also point to red meats as having the potential of being detrimental to health when consumed in large amounts. The cooking of processed meats including red meats is also tied to higher levels of cancer causing chemicals being released from this cooking process. Just how bad is it?

according to a recent BBC Study stats, just two slices of bacon (50g) every day can increase cancer risk by a whopping 18% while it would take twice as much red meat (100g)

processed meat is unhealthy

2) Sugary cereal with little health value

Sugar intake is at epidemic levels and childhood obesity has been on the rise since the 1980s. Cleverly marketed breakfast cereals have your children literally begging you for their morning fix. Also, be aware that many of these popular cereals contain genetically modified corn due to it being a cheaper option for manufactures.

Become informed and learn to check the ingredients, find a healthy brand low in sugar and make that choice. Surprisingly enough, breakfast cereals are one of the most often consumed,  worst processed foods out there.

Breakfast cereals are notorious for misleading claims and some of the more popular brands will advertise “whole grain” varieties that only really contain a very small amount of actual “whole grains”.

unhealthy sugar loaded cereal

3) Margarine or fake butter spreads

You have to love the convenience factor but remember, resist that temptation. Most margarine is loaded with trans fats, and these are the WORST fats you could be putting into your body. Stick with the natural alternative without all those trans fats, your body will be happy you did.

Butter is not much better but for me it’s a better choice. Another option is Olive oil. Saturated fats like those naturally occurring in butter were in the past constantly shunned and the consensus was reached that they were bad for you.

While as it turns out they are not anywhere near as bad for you as the trans fats in margarine. Here is that study Trans fats can literally kill you so I would highly recommend the lesser of the two evils, butter.

Our bodies are better equipped to process the saturated fats in butter than the trans fats in margarine. As far as worst processed foods go, margarine definitely tops the list.

margarine unhealthy foods

4) Granola bars–read the ingredients

Granola bars, very much like many popular cereals can have the appearance of being healthy where in reality are loaded with hidden sugars and fats. I was very hard pressed finding a healthy granola bar in my local supermarket.

They are also typically loaded with high fructose corn syrup and because they appear healthy it’s easy to get carried away and have more than one. My advice is to stay away from these and other “health foods” that really are doing more damage than good and sabotaging your weight loss.

Instead try to find all natural snacks like nuts and fruit for guilt free snacking.

some granola bars unhealthy

5) Fake low-fat processed foods

Sometimes they will be labeled as reduced fat or low in fat, but watch out, quite often super unhealthy ingredients are used in place like salt or sugar to make the product seem appealing. Always check the ingredients and the order that they appear.

Generally what the product contains the most of will appear first in the ingredient list. Be cautious when you see “reduced fat” or “low fat” labels. Chances are there’s something else, some other ingredient that’s filling that void. Don’t just assume your making the healthiest choice just by that label.

Be sure to do your research and double check for fat, sugar and salt content or else you could end up with one of the worst processed foods

low fat doesn't mean healthy

6) Frozen meals loaded with sodium

This can include TV dinners among other seemingly healthy alternatives that are typically high in sodium and fat. Watch out for these because they can sometimes appear to be a healthy choice when in fact they are nothing more than unhealthy processed empty calories.

Some of the more popular brand names in TV dinners have been guilty of breaking the recommended daily intake for sodium in just one meal! It’s no surprise either that they are just teeming with fats and preservatives.

Related: Top 10 best health conscious health foods

You would be way better off preparing your own meals in advance and freezing them for that future convenience. That way, at least you will know what ingredients are in them and that they are healthy.

frozen meals processed avoid this food

7) Soda or juices loaded with sugar

Should be common knowledge by now how unhealthy and loaded with sugar these popular drinks are. Just one can of pop can contain anywhere from 10-15 Teaspoons of sugar! No wonder obesity is an epidemic.

If it’s not sugar it’s high fructose corn syrup as the main ingredient hello entire recommended sugar intake for the day! Many juices are also in this same boat. Be sure to check the labels and make healthy decisions.

So next time you see soda in the supermarket, stay away. Instead choose a healthy alternative like sugar-free iced tea Energy drinks are another big no no if you’re trying to lose weight. You’d be better off with just a black cup of coffee for that pick-me-up rather than an energy drink.

unhealthy soda loaded sugar

8) Potato chips and processed snacks

Sure they taste great but too bad they’re loaded with fats, sodium and of very insignificant nutritional value; potato chips can be tempting but remember avoid these like the plague if you’re concerned about weight gain and overall health.

Trans fats are usually among these super unhealthy fats in potato chips. You’re better off to find a healthier alternative like in nuts, pretzels or fruits. Butylhydroxytoluene or BHT is a common chemical used in the manufacturing process of some brands of potato chips.

Related: 10 best foods to keep your heart healthy

BHT is a known and recognized cancer causing chemical in high enough amounts. Although the amount of this chemical is not very much, I’d rather skip consuming any known cancer causing chemical.

chips are unhealthy

9) White breads lacking nutrition

White bread may seem innocent enough, but don’t fall for it. White bread made the list of worst processed foods in part because it has been so heavily processed that pretty much all nutritional value is lost so be sure to substitute this with a whole grain bread.

The consumption of the carbohydrates contained in these breads have been linked to rapid spikes in blood sugar and as quick as the blood sugar rises it falls leaving you hungry again. It’s not so much that white bread is necessarily bad for you, it’s just really not good for you either.

Typically breads also contain a large amount of gluten and other potentially harmful substances like sugars and high fructose corn syrup. So if you must eat breads look for a whole grain and stay away from white bread.

unhealthy white bread

10) Ice cream and other frozen treats

Almost goes without saying how bad this food is for you. Oftentimes the serving size listed is so small that it can appear to not be so bad. How often do you measure your portions of ice cream? Me either, so it can be super easy to eat way more than that serving size.

Try some frozen yogurt instead for an alternative to ice cream. If you feel you must indulge in ice cream (I’m not judging you) try to make a healthier choice with a low fat, low sugar variety.

list of worst processed foods

That’s our top 10 worst foods to eat. We are what we eat, literally and that’s why it’s so important to become aware of what you are consuming and especially pay attention to the labels. Do you want recipes for fat burning alkaline recipes? Have a look at the Alkaline Cookbook, if you are interested click here to learn more.

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