These Unhealthy Foods Will Do More Harm Than Good

The Family Nutrition Guide states that the purpose of food is to fill the body with nutrients. There’s a wide variety of healthy foods that serve this purpose. On the other hand, there are tons of unhealthy foods that do the complete opposite. These unhealthy foods are filled with excessive amounts of sugar, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, and more, which can actually harm the body and mind (both in the short and long term). Continue reading to learn about some of the unhealthiest foods and drinks out there.

Soda Is Filled With Sugar

large soda cup
Caspar Tobias Schlenk/picture alliance via Getty Images
Caspar Tobias Schlenk/picture alliance via Getty Images

According to Healthy Food America, about half of Americans drink soda each day. Soda is one of the unhealthiest foods because of the added sugar, which can have a severe impact on health. Healthline found that the brain doesn’t register liquid calories as food, which causes people to consume more than they should.

Side effects from regularly drinking soda include weight gain, tooth decay, a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Fortunately, there are some healthy alternatives to soda, including sparkling flavored water or tea.

Microwave Popcorn Can Cause “Popcorn Lung”

A freshly popped bag of microwave popcorn
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Microwave popcorn may seem like a good movie snack, but it contains some harmful chemicals. Many brands fill their popcorn with trans fats and line the bags with something called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This acid is extremely toxic.

Additionally, the butter flavor comes from diacetyl (DA), which is a chemical that breaks down important cells that protect organs. Microwave popcorn is also linked to a serious disease called “popcorn lung” where the diacetyl causes irreversible lung damage after being consumed in large amounts.

Frosting Contains Harmful Carcinogens

cake with pink and white frosting
Chiasheng Tai/Unsplash
Chiasheng Tai/Unsplash

Frosting may be a sweet and delicious topping for a cake, but it is extremely harmful to your health. Store-bought frostings contain unhealthy chemicals such as hydrogenated soybean oil and cottonseed oil, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, liver dysfunction, and infertility.

Nutrition Action says that it also contains dyes filled with carcinogens, which can cause cancer. If that’s not enough for you, the propylene glycol used in some frostings has been linked to kidney disease.

Processed Cheese Isn’t Real Cheese

Old Orchard Beach Surge baseball
Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

While some cheeses are healthy in moderation, there are still others that should be avoided altogether. Processed cheeses, such as Kraft American Singles or Velveeta, are the least nutritious. According to Healthline, processed cheese contains filler ingredients made to look and taste like real cheese.

These filler ingredients have at least twice the amount of sugar and sodium as natural cheese. Those who want to eat the healthiest types of cheeses should try feta, cottage cheese, or vegan cheese.

Maple Syrup Has No Nutritional Value

someone pouring maple syrup into a measuring cup
Gregory Rec/Getty Images
Gregory Rec/Getty Images

Maple syrup is one of the most popular breakfast condiments because of its rich, sweet taste. It also lacks any sort of nutritional value. Store-bought syrup brands include high amounts of high fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring.

High fructose corn syrup leads to liver damage, weight gain, and more, while caramel coloring contains cancer-causing carcinogens. Eat This, Not That! suggests opting for Grade A Medium Amber pure maple syrup because the concentrated flavor causes people to use less.

This Chemical Can Be Found In Brown Rice

a bowl of raw brown rice
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

It seems absurd that brown rice would be considered unhealthy because of its many health benefits. Live Science states it can lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, and lower the glycemic index.

But some may not know that brown rice actually contains harmful levels of arsenic. The Food and Drug Administration says that not only is arsenic a cancerous carcinogen, but it can cause problems with the heart, bladder, lungs, and skin. Oddly enough, arsenic isn’t found in white rice.

Margarine May Not Be A Better Butter Alternative

Stick margarine and other food items which contain trans fat
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Margarine is usually used as a substitute for butter and has some heart-healthy benefits, but isn’t that good for you. According to Healthline, margarine contains trans fats, which can cause heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

It also contains palm oil, which is filled with high saturated fats that lead to inflammation. Margarine is primarily made from a vegetable oil base but also can be made from soybean, canola, sunflower, and other oils. These oils all have polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), which lead to arthritis, IBS, obesity, diabetes, and more.

Canned Soup Has Far Too Much Sodium

canned soup on shelves in a grocery store
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Canned soup tends to be one of the cheapest options at the grocery store, but isn’t usually the healthiest. Men’s Journal reported that canned soup contains excess sodium. Sodium intake shouldn’t exceed 350 milligrams, but many store-bought brands are around 1,000 milligrams.

When people consume too much sodium, it causes their kidneys to work a lot harder. The body will try to attract as much water as possible into the bloodstream, which leads to bloating and inflammation.

Be Aware Of The Serving Size On Boxed Macaroni And Cheese

Packages of Kraft Foods Inc.'s Macaroni & Cheese sit on a grocery store shelf
Tim Boyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Tim Boyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Macaroni and cheese is a classic staple in the American diet, but there are some versions that are extremely unhealthy. Many store-bought boxed mac and cheese meals are loaded with sodium.

Eat This, Not That! says that just one cup of the Kraft Three Cheese Mac & Cheese contains 600 milligrams of sodium when the daily amount shouldn’t exceed 350. Instead, it would be healthier to find some alternatives that use vegan cheese and plant-based pasta.

Hot Dogs Speed Up The Aging Process

man eating lots of hot dogs
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

In the United States, hot dogs usually symbolize summer, baseball, or Independence Day. While they have happy memories associated with them, they aren’t a healthy meal option. The Globe and Mail says hot dogs contain a lot of cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium.

Someone who regularly eats hot dogs has a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer, heart disease, weak bones, and chronic kidney disease. The sodium phosphates and serum phosphates found in hot dogs can actually speed up the aging process.

Bottled Water Has Some Nasty Chemicals

Wales Daily Life 2019
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Shoppers may notice that some bottled water brands are changing the way they make their plastic bottles. This is because some of them use BPA in their packaging. BPA, or bisphenol A, is a harmful chemical to humans.

It can mess with hormones by having females start puberty early, can cause reproductive cancers, and can lead to obesity. According to the Mayo Clinic, BPA is also linked to increased blood pressure. In order to avoid BPA, use a non-BPA or metal bottle with filtered water.

Pickles Can Change Your Behavior

pickles in a barrel
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Cold pickles can be a refreshing treat on a hot day, but they’re sodium bombs. Healthline says that a large dill pickle has over two-thirds of your daily recommended amount of sodium.

Some store-bought pickle brands add yellow dyes to their pickles, which has lasting side effects such as irritability, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, and depression. Other harmful chemicals in pickles include polysorbate 80 and sodium benzoate. These can be cancer-causing and damage the mitochondria.

Veggie Burgers Can Increase Appetite

someone eating a veggie burger
Camilla Cerea/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Camilla Cerea/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Although it’s important to find alternatives to red meat, those alternatives might not be as nutritious as expected. Veggie burgers can be made from various foods such as beans and beets and can be a great alternative to regular hamburgers.

There are some brands of veggie burgers that are highly processed and contain a lot of saturated fats, sodium, calories, and cholesterol. Ingredients in veggie burgers, such as disodium inosinate and artificial flavors, actually have the ability to increase appetite so you eat more!

Lemonade Is Almost All Sugar

lemonade glasses with lemon wedges on a counter
Nanxi Wei/Unsplash
Nanxi Wei/Unsplash

Sometimes nothing beats an ice-cold cup of lemonade. This sweet drink can hit the spot, but isn’t something that people should drink regularly. Most store-bought lemonade brands contain huge amounts of sugar.

Consuming high levels of sugar can lead to fatty liver disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and more. Store-bought brands usually use yellow dyes, which can lead to behavioral issues such as hyperactivity and irritability. The best thing to do is make lemonade at home so you can control the amount of sugar being added.

Granola Bars Have As Much Sugar As Candy Bars

granola bars on display in a restaurant
Jade Wulfraat/Unsplash
Jade Wulfraat/Unsplash

Granola bars are usually marketed as a snack for those on an adventure or long trek. While they are a filling treat, they contain large amounts of added sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and more.

The combination of these unhealthy ingredients can be detrimental to your overall health. According to Greatist, brands such as Quaker Oats and Nature Valley pack their granola bars with so much sugar that it would basically be the same as eating a king-size candy bar.

Salad Dressing Can Block Your Arteries

Group of prepared bottled salad dressings. Kraft Roka Blue Cheese, 365 Italian dressing and Gazebo Room Greek dressing
Julie Thurston/Getty Images
Julie Thurston/Getty Images

Salads are one of the healthiest meal options available, but it’s important to be aware of the ingredients that are added. Salad dressings can turn a healthy salad into a meal filled with too many calories, sugar, sodium, and saturated fat.

According to Harvard Health, consuming too much salad dressing can spike your cholesterol and lead to blockages in the arteries. Also, many store-bought salad dressings contain huge amounts of high fructose corn syrup, which leads to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and more.

Refried Beans Are Loaded With Lard

Refried Beans in bowl
Goran Kosanovic/Getty Images
Goran Kosanovic/Getty Images

Many forms of beans are quite healthy, including black beans, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans. Refried beans are a different story. These usually contain lard (animal fat) and hydrogenated oil.

These ingredients are high in saturated fats. SFGate says that just a half cup of canned refried beans contains 22 percent of the daily value for sodium. This can increase your risk for hypertension, heart disease, and can cause you to lose bone density. Those who want something similar can replace it with a low-sodium and vegetarian version.

Pizza Has All Sorts Of Negative Health Effects

A view of a cheese pan pizza
Shannon O’Hara/Getty Images
Shannon O’Hara/Getty Images

About 98 percent of Americans regularly eat pizza, so it’s considered to be one of the country’s top foods. According to Healthline, pizza is high in calories, sugar, fat, and sodium.

Most pizzas contain highly processed ingredients and artificial preservatives. After eating pizza, it’s common to crave more foods that have high saturated fats and sodium. Pizza can cause heart disease, slow metabolism, decrease your energy levels, and make the body pump too much insulin.

Cereal Is A Big Bowl Of Sugar

close up of colorful cereal
Etienne Girardet/Unsplash
Etienne Girardet/Unsplash

Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day, so it’s crucial that people consume a nutritious one. Cereal is a popular breakfast option, but it’s actually one of the unhealthiest things someone could eat.

Healthline says that most cereals are packed with sugar and refined grains. This can be very harmful to your health because regularly eating this much sugar can increase your chances for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Instead, look for cereals that are high in fiber and low in sugar.

French Fries Are Filled With Saturated Fat

french fries being served in a food truck
Philippe Huguen/AFP via Getty Images
Philippe Huguen/AFP via Getty Images

French fries are typically paired with a fatty entrée such as a cheeseburger or fried fish, making them one of the unhealthiest side dishes. These crispy potatoes are loaded in saturated fat, high in calories, and often have a lot of sodium.

PubMed Central did a study and found the people who regularly ate French fries gained more weight than those who didn’t. Healthline suggests finding a healthier alternative with a satisfying crunch, such as baby carrots or nuts.