We all know that eating bad food can make us overweight or even make us feel lethargic, but did you know that some unhealthy food types could actually kill you? There are a whole ton of different types of food that can cause health problems, or even poison you, if you eat them too often. Here are the 10 unhealthy food types that might kill you, soon!
You may have heard time and time again that soda is really bad for you, but can it actually kill you? Well yes, it can actually. There are no nutritional benefits from drinking soda and it’s one of the biggest causes of obesity and obesity related diseases in America and Europe. It’s no good for any part of your body, from your teeth down to your digestive system and is completely empty calories. So, before you gulp down you fourth can of fizzy drink for the day, read on as to why they are so bad for you.
The first, and probably the most talked about, reason that soda is bad for you comes down to the calories you consume when drinking it. According to research, people in America drink 45 gallons of soda every year; and 69% of Americans are overweight or obese. See what we’re getting it? The fact is, fizzy drinks are just empty calories and just drinking a can of Coke a day can add an extra 14.5 pounds of weight in a year, all by itself. The problem is, people forget that drinks are all part of their calorie intake and this can lead to people taking on more than their daily allowance. Eating and drinking lots of sugar is going to make you fat, end of story. But what’s the issue with being overweight? Quite simply, it can kill you. Being obese or overweight can lead to dozens of health problems, such as heart conditions and diabetes.
Another issue with drinking soda is to do with the sugar content, another surefire way to get diabetes. When you drink a sugary drink, you get a ‘sugar rush’ which your body tries to counteract by producing more insulin. After that comes a glucose crash, which tends to be when you start craving something else sugary to eat or drink. With the constant spiking and crashing, your body will build up an insulin resistance which can then lead to diabetes.
Finally, there’s the huge amount of sodium and caffeine found in just one can of soda. Within a standard sized can of fizzy drink there is 30mg of sodium and 38mg of caffeine, both of which are bad for the heart. Caffeine can greatly increase blood pressure and heart rate, whilst too much sodium can make our bodies retain food for longer. By combining these two together, you end up with all sorts of problems, including dehydration. This can cause high blood pressure, raised glucose levels and even heighten the risk of hardened arteries leading to the heart.
Essentially, if you want to reduce your risk of obesity and disease then you need to cut soda out of your life for good. That includes diet sodas, which are also dangerous (we’ll look at those later). Replace your sodas with good, old fashioned water and try to wean yourself off of the sugar, sodium and caffeine. If you really need a caffeine fix then try an unsweetened coffee or fruit juice, in moderation. Remember, all drinks contain calories too (except water), so keep an eye on what you’re quenching your thirst with. As soon as you cut out these empty calories and high levels of sugar, sodium and caffeine, you’ll greatly reduce your risk of heart problems, diabetes and obesity.
2. Processed Meats
New research has shown that eating lots of processed meats, including ham, sausages, bacon and deli meats, can seriously increase your risk of dying young. The study, which followed half a million people across Europe for nearly 13 years, linked a diet packed with processed meats with a higher risk of heart disease, cancer and early death rates. Sounds pretty scary, huh? Let’s take a look at what is so dangerous about your favorite processed meats.
One word; nitrites. This is quite possibly the most dangerous part about eating processed meats, as they truly are a ticking time bomb. This additive, which is used to give processed meat it’s lovely fresh looking color, can result in the formation of cancerous cells within the body. The risk of pancreatic cancer is more common for those who eat a lot of processed meats on a regular basis. Those who consume more than 20g of processed meat a day, according to the study, were 67% more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer later on in life. Over 50g of processed meat in a day also greatly increases the risk of colorectal cancer, by up to 21%. Although lots of research still needs to go into whether processed meats can really cause cancer, it would be wise to cut down on your intake of the stuff.
It isn’t just the nitrites that can cause problems, however. High sodium levels, lots of calories and tons of trans fats can all have a negative impact on your health. Many deli meats contain vast amounts of sodium, which can put a strain on your heart and cause high blood pressure and weakened blood vessels. The fats and calories found in processed meats could also contribute towards obesity, which could then lead to other health complaints such as diabetes. Overall, it seems as though processed meat has a whole range of ‘nasties’ that can cause health problems later down the line; including those early death rates.
So, what exactly are processed meats? You may be surprised to learn that a lot of meat has been processed, in order for it to last longer on the supermarket shelves. Just some examples include deli meats such as salami, popular sandwich fillings such as ham, some sausages, bacon and hamburgers (if they include preservatives), meat in a can such as spam, and mass produced meats such as those delivered to restaurant chains. You can find out if a meat has been processed by looking at the ingredients, to see if it contains any kind of preservative.
In order for you to reduce the risks of all these potential problems, you could try cutting out processed meat altogether. The best way to do this would be to visit the butcher or deli counter at your local supermarket and opt for fresh cuts of your favorite meats. Poultry, such as chicken, is a much better option when fresh; so replace your ham sandwiches with chicken instead. If you can afford it, then organic meat is the healthiest way to live. It can be pricey, and may not last as long, but there will be none of the dangerous stuff added either. If you really need to eat processed meat then try to stick to less than 20g a day; the less the better.
3. Frozen and Ready Made Meals
You know the drill; it’s been a hard day at work, you come home and the last thing you want to do is start cooking. You rifle through the freezer and pick out a frozen ready meal, pop it in the microwave and dinner is served. However easy this might make your life, you may be paying a high price for that convenience. The more processed a meal is, which tends to be the case with ready made dinners, the more likely it is going to make you ill.
The problem with TV dinners, frozen food and ready made meals, is that they all contain high levels of sodium and sugar. In fact, most frozen meals can contain anywhere between 700 to 1800 mg of sodium, despite your recommended daily allowance being 2300mg. If you’re having 1800mg of sodium in one meal, it doesn’t leave you much for breakfasts and lunches. Too much sodium in your diet can play havoc with your heart, putting you at an increased risk of high blood pressure and other cardiac problems. Many ready meals will also have plenty of sugar in, as this is what helps them taste nice once all of the goodness has been frozen away. Too much sugar in your diet can make you seriously overweight, whilst setting you up for a plethora of health issues such as diabetes.
Your favorite ready meals are likely to be the biggest culprits when it comes to containing high levels of fat, too. Pot pies (chicken, turkey and beef), macaroni cheese, lasagne and roast dinners can be absolutely rammed with fat and saturated fat. An average beef pot pie can contain around 11g of saturated fat; when your daily allowance is only 22g. Too much saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels, whilst putting you at risk of heart diseases and even heart failure. Make sure you check the back of the packet to see how much fat and saturated fat is in your favorite frozen dinners.
Lastly, we’re back to the preservatives, which seem to be the biggest worry for most of the foods featured in our list so far. Ready meals are packed with preservatives to help keep their color and flavor after they’ve been frozen; just look at the ingredients if you don’t believe us. These additives can cause various health problems, including cancer, if consumed too often.
We understand that it is seemingly impossible to give up the convenience of frozen meals, especially for those that live a busy lifestyle. With this in mind, there are some shortcuts you can take. Firstly, opt for frozen meals that have plenty of protein, vegetables and a source of whole grain (brown rice, pasta, etc). Secondly, add in some fresh vegetables or salad of your own, to get some more of your five a day. Lastly, look out for anything packed in syrup or with cheese sauce as these are the worst fatty culprits.
The healthiest option would be to steer clear from frozen ready meals from a shop and make your own instead. The next time you can cook a dinner from scratch, make enough for another serving and freeze it. You can check various recipe websites for some great dinner ideas, that can be frozen and reheated when you don’t have the time.
4. Potato Chips or Crisps
If you’re anything like us then you’ll love crunching on your favorite potato chips every once in a while (or every day). However, research shows that eating potato chips too often is actually one of the worst things you can do for your health, and your waistline. Not only are they packed full of salt, trans fats and calories, but they also contain dangerous chemicals called BHT and acrylamide. The combination of all these baddies can cause serious health problems and even kill you.
Let’s look at the most obvious reasons why crisps are so bad for you; they’re full of fat and salt. Lots of calories and trans fats are the easiest way to gain weight, whilst also causing heart problems and diabetes. Whilst your favorite corn chips, potato chips or tortilla chips are being made, they are pumped full of trans fats that can wreak havoc on your body. Those who eat crisps on a regular basis are far more likely to be overweight or obese, than those who don’t. Even ‘diet’ chips, which are created with less, or no, trans fats are not doing you any good. They are also generally covered in plenty of salt, which makes them Moorish and delicious. Regardless of the flavor you go for, most will have extremely high levels of sodium that can cause blood pressure problems and heart disease. The problem with crisps is that the crunchiness of them makes them extremely addictive, meaning you can get through a whole share bag without even noticing.
One of the scariest things about potato chips, however, is the dangerous chemicals they contain. The first is BHT, which stands for Butylhydroxytoluene and is often used in the food industry to preserve baked goods. This chemical is also used in petroleum products, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals; sounds nice, right? According to research, large amounts of BHT can cause cancer, although it would take a lot of potato chips to get to that point. The safest option is to limit your exposure to this cancer-causing chemical completely, however. Next up is acrylamide, which is most frequently found in potatoes, grains and coffee. FDA tests have shown that the highest levels of this chemical were found in french fries, with potato chips coming in at a close second. Testing has also shown that the chemical can be linked to causing cancer in animals, which means it could also be causing cancer in humans. A lot of research still needs to be undertaken to find out exactly how dangerous acrylamide is, but for now it is best to avoid it like the plague.
You will be pleased to know, that there are healthier alternatives to crisps. Try cutting this dangerous food out of your life for good, instead of trying to find ‘low fat’ versions of your favorites, however. If you need that crunch in your life, then try making your own sweet potato crisps or curly kale crisps. You can slice sweet potato into thin, crisp-like shapes, before popping it in to oven bake for 10-15 minutes. Curly kale crisps are an extremely healthy alternative and you can even put on a little bit of sea salt for your sodium fix. Anything has got to be better than the potentially cancer causing potato chips that we’ve been filling our bodies with for years.
5. Fast Food
Hands up who knew this one was going to be on the list. Of course, we couldn’t write a list of unhealthy foods that might kill you, without including quite possibly the most dangerous type of all. Fast food. As you may already know, fast food contains a lot more calories than your average meal, it also contains high levels of saturated fat and sodium.
One in four people, in America, visit fast food restaurants every single day; with around 50 million people eating McDonald’s a day. Fast food is also one of the major contributors to both adult and childhood obesity, along with problems such as obesity and diabetes. When you think that each person needs to consume around 400-600 calories for each meal, the fact that a McDonald’s Big Xtra hamburger contains 810 calories (without fries or a drink), seems scary in itself. If you eat an extra 440 calories over your daily allowance, every day, then you will gain a pound a week. With most fast food coming in at double your mealtime allowance, it is easy to put on plenty of weight in a short period of time. When you gain so much weight, diabetes becomes a major risk, which can lead to death in serious cases. All of the extra pressure you are putting on your body, especially your heart, is a surefire way to an early grave.
The trans and saturated fats within fast food is what can make you feel hungry again, after such a short space of time. It can also increase the bad cholesterol levels in your blood, which can then lead to heart problems and even a heart attack. Trans fat is actually something we don’t need in our diet at all, not even in small amounts. This killer can cause all sorts of problems, which is why most experts will recommend avoiding trans fat as much as physically possible. Sodium is what fast food chains use to get you eating more and more of their products. When you consume a lot of salt in a meal it can make you dehydrated, which our body can sometimes misread as being hungry. Ever wondered why you always super size your meal and then go back for seconds? Now you know.
Everything that goes into fast food has been designed to make you want more, which causes problem after problem. Even the advertisements on your way in are there to make you want a bigger meal, with more extras and layers of salt included. The issue is, the more fast food you eat the more addictive it becomes and the more damage it is doing to your body. Obesity is rife in countries where people spend a lot of their hard earned cash on fast food; as are problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
There is no healthy fast food and so your only alternative is to cook yourself up something delicious instead. There are tons of recipe websites that will show you how to make a healthy chicken burger or tasty homemade fries, that contain over half of the calories, fats and sodium than fast food restaurants. Break the habit of fast and convenient food, your body will thank you for it and you will live a lot longer too.
6. Shop Bought Sandwiches
This is another food that we always buy out of convenience, but that 10 minutes saved every day could be taking more than that away from your life. Looking at the other food types on the list, it may seem quite obvious why shop bought sandwiches aren’t very good for you. When you think about the processed meat that goes into it, the preservatives used to keep it fresh and the fact you haven’t controlled the amount of fats or sodium going into it; it’s no wonder why shop bought sandwiches could be deadly.
A third of a woman’s daily intake of salt can be found in shop bought sandwiches, not to mention all of the saturated fats and calories. With such a high sodium content, food like this can actually make you more hungry than ever. Our body sometimes confuses dehydration with hunger, which can make us feel like we need a mid-afternoon snack, so soon after lunch. High salt content can also clog up arteries and cause heart attacks, if we’re not careful. The fact is, if we’re not making something ourselves then we can’t see what’s being put into it. Even the sandwiches which claim to be diet, healthy or fat free can be packed full of preservatives that we really do not want added to our food. Anything which is sold in a package generally have to go through a process of preservation, before being sold. This ensures that it stays fresh, even a couple of days after being made. All of these additions can cause problems such as cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes.
There are some ways of ensuring shop bought sandwiches are as healthy as you had hoped. The best thing to do is go to a bakery and watch them make it up for you, there and then. Try to avoid those processed meats as a filling, however! If you go to a small sandwich shop, that isn’t part of a chain, then chances are they will use fresher ingredients. Don’t be afraid to ask if anything they put in their sandwiches is processed.
You may find local health shops are now selling sandwiches, which is another great way of getting something on-the-go, without all the extras. Healthy sandwich shops are not quite on every street corner yet, but there are more and more springing up around the US and UK. They won’t sell anything packaged or processed and you’ll find that many will let you watch them make a sandwich there and then. All of their ingredients tend to be local produce, that is free from added salt and fats, too.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid this unhealthy food, is by making sandwiches yourself. Try making them the night before, so that you’re not in a mad rush or panic to get something rustled up in the morning. Did you know, you can even freeze sandwiches if you want to make them bulk? Depending on your fillings, a frozen sandwich won’t taste bad, as long as it has been defrosted properly. By making your own sandwiches you can keep an eye on everything that goes inside, whilst avoiding all of the extra sodium, fats, calories and those nasty preservatives. An egg mayonnaise sandwich on wholemeal bread is a much better alternative to a shop bought ham one.
7. Chinese Takeaway
Although all takeaway foods are pretty bad for you, Chinese is one of the worst. With high salt content, plenty of saturated fats, calories galore and the potentially deadly MSG, there’s no doubt in our minds that this food type can kill you. Add this to the fact that you’re far more likely to get food poisoning from Chinese takeaway food, according to research, and it’s a wonder anyone eats the stuff anymore.
Your average Chinese meal has a grand total of 2,184 calories, which is more than one person should consume in a day. This is based on vegetable spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken, and a portion of egg fried rice; let’s be honest, who eats just that when they get a Chinese takeaway? With so many calories consumed in one sitting, you can see why this food could potentially be dangerous. Just one or two takeaways a week could contribute to you piling on loads of weight, which can then cause obesity problems and diabetes.
Along with the calories, you also have all of the fat that goes into a Chinese takeaway meal. According to research, one meal could have the equivalent of a wine glass full of lard. Appetizing! All of this fat does nothing good for your body, especially when it begins to clog up vital arteries and cause high blood pressure levels. Much of the food you can get from a Chinese takeaway tends to be deep fried or cooked in lots of fatty oils, which contributes to the amount of fat in each portion.
As with most takeaways, you will also find plenty of salt in a Chinese take out meal. The oils used for cooking, the processed ingredients and the extra salt added, all contribute to higher levels of sodium than usual. Constantly eating takeaway foods will have some serious consequences when it comes to your health and well being, all thanks to the salt included in each meal.
Finally, according to research in the UK, Chinese food is far more likely to give you food poisoning than any other takeaway types. Even more than kebabs, curry houses and pizza restaurants. Based on findings by food inspectors, 55% of Chinese takeaway restaurants in the UK have failed to meet hygiene requirements. Certain types of food poisoning can be deadly, so this is an extremely worrying statistic. Of course, not all Chinese takeaways are the same, just make sure you see some kind of hygiene certificate before ordering your food from them.
If you want to avoid the dangers of Chinese takeaways, then you could make your own style ‘fakeaways’ at home. Recipe websites will give you plenty of ideas on how to make healthier alternatives of your favorite take out food. Not only will it be healthier, as you can see what goes into it, but it will certainly cost you less too. If you have any left you can put it into a container and eat it for lunch the next day, just like with a real Chinese takeaway. If you have to order, then make sure you opt for something that contains plenty of raw vegetables and protein, such as chicken or fish. You can also ask your local restaurant to make you up a healthy dish of chicken and veg, without drowning it in sauce.
We all love candy, sweet treats and anything else that pumps us full of sugar during a hard day at work. However, what you’re about to find out might actually put you off candy for life… Those who eat chocolate and sweets more often are far more likely to get diabetes than those that stick to a treat every once in a while. Lots of candy can also make you overweight, give you heart problems and cause more cavities in your mouth than actual teeth. We’ve grown up being told that candy is a treat, but we don’t know what is very ‘treat-like’ about getting ill from the stuff.
When you eat chocolate, sweets or any other candy, you create a sugar high in your body thanks to all the sugar in the food. When this happens, your body will try to bring your blood sugar levels back down to a normal place, which means insulin is released. The insulin will help bring the sugar spike down, which can then leave you feeling tired and lethargic (the sugar crash). If this happens on a regular basis, then your body will start to build up an immunity to the insulin and this is what can cause some types of diabetes. Those who already have diabetes are at even higher risk, as higher blood glucose levels can lead to complications such as a diabetic coma. There is far too much sugar in candy, even the ‘low calorie’ stuff, so be careful how much you’re consuming. Ideally, you want no more than 150 calories per day from sugar, so bear that in mind when eating.
The amount of calories and saturated fat in candy bars is another sure-fire way to make yourself ill. Our recommended daily allowance is generally 2,000 calories and around 22g of saturated fat; yet chocolate and sweets can contain as much as 11g of saturated fats and plenty of calories. If you eat 11g of saturated fat in one candy bar, then it doesn’t leave you much for the rest of your meals. Chocolate and sweets also have no real nutritional value, either. This means that although you may be getting lots of calories and saturated fat, it’s doing nothing good for your body. Those who consume too much of the bad stuff could put themselves at risk of heart disease, high blood pressure or even a stroke.
Last up, you’ve got the dreaded cavities. Okay, so having toothache is not going to kill you, but it can certainly feel like it might. Too much sugar in candy can cause problems with your teeth, as it rots away all of the enamel that helps keep them strong and healthy. This can lead to you losing teeth, having them removed or having painful fillings.
So, how do you get your sweet tooth fix, if you’re avoiding candy? There are plenty of ways to incorporate sugar into your diet, whilst also getting some nutritional value. Sweet berries and dried fruit are a great way to get your sugar fix, whilst also getting some healthy vitamins and nutrients to add into your diet. One of our favorite sweet snacks is a baked apple with cinnamon sprinkled on top. It will taste better than chocolate, satisfy the sweet tooth, and help cut down the risk of all the health problems.
This is the biggest killer on our list and there are dozens of reasons why too much alcohol is bad for you. We’re not going to tell you to give up drinking altogether (the odd glass of wine is fine), but when you read what alcohol can do to you, it may cause you to be sober for life. There are a long list of negative impacts booze can have on our body, including:
- Mental health problems
- Increase the risk of heart disease and strokes
- Impair memory skills
- Increase the risk of cancers
- Reduce fertility
- Increase the risk of cirrhosis
It can also impair our judgment which means we could end up getting into a fight, falling down stairs and plenty of other dangerous risks to our health. However, we understand that most people are fully aware of the dangers of alcohol, and keep drinking, so we will just look at the scientific facts of what it actually does to the body.
Research has shown that there is a strong link between drinking alcohol and cancer; with tens of thousands of cases caused by alcohol consumption each year. Even 10g more than the allotted 3 units a day can increase breast cancer risks by up to 12%! Those who drink more than 100g over their allotted units in a week can also increase the risk of bowel cancer by 19%. These statistics have been researched over the years, by medical experts, and published in highly revered medical journals.
It isn’t just cancer that is a big worry for alcohol drinkers, however. Too much alcohol can do some serious and irreversible damage to the heart. As there is a high calorie content in alcohol, it can put more fat into the body without you even realizing it. After all, drinking doesn’t stop you from feeling hungry. Heavy drinking can cause all sorts of problems from high blood pressure, to congestive heart failure and alcoholic cardiomyopathy. It can also slow down the body’s ability to be able to fight off viral infections, which is dangerous for those who already have a weakened immune system. Many of these issues are thought to come from acetaldehyde, which is what alcohol is broken down to whilst in the body. This toxic substance has been shown to damage a human’s DNA and can be linked to causing serious health problems down the line. In other words, alcohol is poisonous and toxic, yet we all keep drinking it.
It is thought, however, that drinking in moderation can be good for you. It can help protect against heart disease, raise good cholesterol and even stop blood clots from forming in your arteries. That is why guidelines have been introduced that inform you of how much you can drink in any given day. Women should drink no more than 2-3 units in a day (a medium glass of wine) and men should consume no more than 3-4 units a day (a pint and a half of beer). As long as you are drinking in moderation, and not binge drinking on a regular basis, then you’re actually doing your body a favor. Once you have hit your daily allowance, stick to the soft drinks instead; you can still have a good time sober!
10. Diet or Low Fat Foods
We thought we would throw in a curve ball for the last food type that might kill you soon; with something that all of us see as healthy. When we’re trying to lose weight or live healthier lives, most of us will buy diet or low fat versions of the food we like the most. However, these can actually be as bad (if not worse) than the food we’re trying to avoid in the first place. Firstly, a lot of them will contain artificial sweeteners and MSG, which can have a negative impact on our bodies. Not only that, but a lot of low fat food will actually contain lots of sugars and carbs, so that it tastes nicer and we buy more of it. The combination of all these baddies in our diet can actually do a lot more harm than good.
Let’s start with artificial sweeteners, which you will find in things such as diet soda, low fat puddings and other diet foods that you expect to taste sweet. Research has shown that these additives can increase the risk of cancer, especially in the infamous aspartame. Many campaigners are calling for aspartame to be banned in food and drink, due to the links it has with various types of cancer. Artificial sweeteners can also cause your body to crave more sugar, which can lead to you snacking, overeating sugary treats and eventually becoming overweight. Your brain knows that it is trying to be tricked, with an artificial substitute, and this can cause your body to do all sorts of strange things; like produce less insulin or slow down metabolism.
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is something else that you need to be wary of. You’ll most likely find this in processed ‘diet’ ready meals, along with ‘healthy’ tinned foods and soups. This flavor enhancer can spike your insulin levels (increasing the risk of diabetes) and stop the important hunger hormone, leptin, from working. The issue with MSG is that it can have a long lasting impact on your body, as the more you eat food with it in the more it compounds upon itself. This can cause a build up of health problems and ultimately lead to obesity, too.
Never fall for the ‘sugar-free’ scam that many diet products are so keen to promote. If a product has no sugar in then it’s probably because they have replaced it with fat instead. If it’s not fat that they’re using to replace sugar then they’re using refined carbs to replace calories. Consider your favorite ‘low fat’ breakfast cereal, which many of us will use to start the day. These cereals tend to be filled with sugar and refined carbs, despite having very few calories. You’re instantly starting your day with an insulin spike and then a crash, which goes back to our diabetes worries. How about trail mix? That’s supposed to be a low fat, healthy snack, right? Actually, many of the store bought versions tend to include high levels of trans fats (normally because the bananas are deep fried and the raisins are doused in hydrogenated palm kernel oil).
If you want low fat and diet foods then the only way to achieve this is by cooking everything yourself and monitoring what goes into it; there’s no other way around it!