Avoiding certain foods can be difficult, especially when they’re specifically designed to taste good.
It’s important to understand that foods like dairy and wheat are common allergens and some people don’t tolerate them well, says Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, Wisconsin-based dietitian and nutrition consultant. But that doesn’t mean they’re bad for everyone.
But while each person has a completely different body and foods that they may react negatively to, there are some foods that are worth avoiding. These are those that do not offer great nutritional value to your body or, in the worst case, pose a risk to your health. Here’s what to know about the foods you should consider staying away from.
1. Canned fruit in syrup
The reason why this type of fruit is so delicious? Sugar, sugar and more sugar. When fruit is canned in light syrup or heavy syrup, it means sugar has been added to the fruit, says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York area. Fruits are sweet enough on their own, so you don’t need any added sugar with them.
That said, if you like the convenience of canned fruit, here’s some good news: There are canned fruits that aren’t wrapped in that syrupy mixture. Just be sure to read the ingredient label to make sure a product is canned in either 100% juice or water, says Gorin. None of these products contain added sugars.
2. Vegetable shortening
For bakers, this shortening could do more harm than good to your pastries and cakes. This is because vegetable shortening contains hydrogenated oils, which are man-made fats made by adding a hydrogen molecule to vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature, Andrews says.
But while hydrogenated oils are good for manufacturers because they increase a product’s shelf life, they’re not so good for you. Regular consumption of hydrogenated oils can increase bad LDL cholesterol levels and decrease good HDL cholesterol levels, and therefore may increase the risk of heart disease, says Andrews. In fact, it’s better to use real butter in moderation when cooking than using shortening, she adds.
3. Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer
This is another product that contains these hydrogenated oils, Andrews says. Additionally, non-dairy powdered or liquid creamers also contain high fructose corn syrup – which can be harmful to the liver by increasing liver fat – and artificial sweeteners, which have been linked to various problems. , especially gastrointestinal. (Other alternative corn sugars may have similar effects on the body, such as natural corn syrup, isolated fructose, corn syrup, glucose or fructose syrup, and tapioca syrup).
That doesn’t mean you have to give up coffee (and the goodness that comes with it) altogether, though. Instead, try drinking your coffee black or replacing non-dairy creamers with almond, coconut, cashew or oat milk or organic creamers from grass-fed cows.
4. Diet soda
Diet sodas are loaded with artificial sweeteners, which are the main culprits for why you should avoid diet sodas when you can. These sweeteners can be even more harmful than sugar, says Shonali Soans, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian at New York City Nutrition. Artificial sweeteners have been linked to both cancer (although larger studies are needed to determine the risk) and gastrointestinal problems, and aspartame – a key ingredient in diet drinks in particular – has also been linked to the development of diabetes, says Soans.
5. Low-fat peanut butter
Nut butters are great for you largely because they contain beneficial unsaturated fats. But when you start cutting out the fat in peanut butter, you’re not only reducing the amount of heart-healthy fats you’re getting, but you may also end up with a product that contains extra sugar and filler ingredients, explains Gorin. These ingredients are added to compensate for the fat removal.
A good rule of thumb for buying peanut butter? It must be natural and only have three ingredients on its label: peanuts, oil and maybe a little salt, Gorin says.
Fish is a staple in your diet, but fatty, low-mercury seafood like salmon and sardines is best, which also contain beneficial omega-3s, EPA and DHA.
But one fish you should avoid ordering when you’re at a seafood restaurant? The tilefish, whose mercury content is high and which can cause poisoning if consumed in too high a concentration.
7. Cereals made from white flour
Yes, these sugary breakfast cereals are delicious, but be careful that they are made with white flour.
These types of grains are nutrient-poor and high in refined carbs, which means they won’t fill you up and can cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar, Andrews says. This can contribute to low energy, mood swings and food cravings. Instead, opt for high-fiber cereals, such as bran flakes.
8. Non-organic strawberries
Strawberries top the Environmental Task Force’s list of dozens of dirty foods, which are heavily contaminated with pesticides when grown conventionally. The problem, besides the environmental concerns, is that these pesticides can also have a negative impact on your health.
Pesticides in our food can be endocrine disruptors, says Soans. Endocrine disruptors work by binding to our hormone receptors and causing a weaker or stronger effect, which disrupts our hormone function, says Soans. This can be particularly harmful for women who may face repercussions such as hormonal imbalance or thyroid problems.
This classic lunchtime sandwich meat has more downsides than upsides due to its jerky status. Salty meats have been linked to several serious problems, including high blood pressure and heart disease, Andrews says. But salami is also high in saturated fat and contains sodium nitrites, which can turn into health-damaging inflammatory compounds, Andrews says.
10. Fruit juice cocktail
Don’t let the word juice fool you. The word cocktail indicates that a juice is mixed with added sugar, explains Gorin.
This is unnecessary and adds extra calories to your day. So instead of choosing a high-sugar juice cocktail mix to start your morning, opt for 100% fruit juice instead if you really want to treat yourself.