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Healthy Foods to Avoid
It can be confusing to know which foods are good for you and which aren’t. It seems like every week, a new “health food” is being promoted while something previously lauded as health is being ousted.
Unfortunately, many foods reputed to be good for you are actually not. Let’s get the facts straight with this healthy foods to avoid.
1. Refined, Enriched Breads, Cereals, Flour and Grains
When a grain product is labeled as “enriched,” its naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and other nutrients have been stripped from it in the refining process. This can be due to mechanical or chemical processes. Rather than eating a healthy, whole, natural food that contains well-balanced nutrients, you end up eating a product that has been depleted of its natural goodness.
The manufacturer adds vitamins and minerals back into the stripped product, hence the “enriched” label. But rather than natural compounds the added nutrients are in the form of man-made chemicals and many types of nutrients, such as fiber, are not replaced. Common sense tells us that it is illogical to remove high quality, balanced, natural nutrients, to replace them with lower quality man-made ones.
Stick to whole grain products that retain all of their healthy goodness.
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2. Fruits and Vegetables
I bet that you are saying, “Fruits and vegetables are healthy, what are you talking about?”
It’s true, fruits and vegetables can be very healthy for you. They are among the best foods you can eat —however not all fruits and vegetables are equal in quality. While organic, local, fresh produce is extremely healthy, most supermarket fruits and vegetables leave something to be desired. Some of the healthiest foods, such as berries and grapes, are among the foods most heavily tainted with pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Further, many fruits and vegetables are genetically modified. Genetically modified foods are not as healthy for you as non-genetically modifies varieties, and they are certainly not good for the planet. In the USA, actions by large corporations have succeeded in passing legislation that forbids regulations that require genetically modified foods to be identified as such. You do not know if you are eating a genetically modified food or not unless a label specifically says so —and now the labels don’t have to say so. Most commercially grown foods, such as corn are genetically modified.
Be sure to wash your fruits and vegetables carefully and purchase organic produce whenever possible. This is especially important when you are consuming foods like berries, leafy greens, and grapes which are heavily treated with chemicals.
Buy fresh, local, in season produce whenever possible. It retains more of the healthy enzymes, vitamins and minerals your body needs and tastes far better than fruits and vegetables that were picked before they were fully ripe and then shipped for thousands of miles.
Beware of frozen vegetables, too. Some are good substitutes for fresh produce at times, but check the label to see where they came from. Imported frozen vegetables are not held to the same standards as domestically-grown vegetables. This means that you may be eating foods that have been treated with chemicals that are outlawed in your country but acceptable in the country where they were grown.
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3. Meat and Poultry
Many health experts are realizing that vegetarian diets can be healthier than diets that include meat and animal products. Vegetarian diets are especially helpful for preventing cardiovascular illness and promoting a healthy weight.
Meats contain ample protein and red meats are rich in iron. However meats and poultry contain plenty of compounds you do not want, too. Many people avoid red meat for fear it contains too much fat, but eat lots of poultry. Poultry is loaded with harmful hormones and chemicals. It is now common practice for meat producers to add salt water and other chemicals to their products.
This doesn’t just happen with poultry. Check the label of a turkey or ham. It may be up to 30% chemically-laden liquid. You are essentially paying up to 30% for water and undesirable chemicals when you purchase many meats. In addition to not being healthy, these waterlogged meats do not sear well or taste as good as natural meats. While promoted as being more tender, the meats are often simply mushy.
Poultry is often raised in deplorable conditions. They are fed grains containing hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals. Many animal feeds are made with byproducts of dead animals. It’s safest to eat only organic poultry; studies indicate that you are more likely to contract a food borne illness from meat that comes from grain fed animals as compared with grass fed ones.
If you choose to eat meat, consider purchasing organically raised meat locally. You can see the animals and ensure that they are being raised humanely. If you do buy organic meats, enquire to determine if the pasture that the animals feed from is organic. In the USA, organic pasturing is not a requirement for meats labeled as organic. If the pasture is not organic, you may still be exposed to residue from pesticides and fertilizers.
Meat from free range animals is leaner than meat from confined, grain fed animals. Wild meats are the healthiest of all. Meats from wild and grass fed animals contain higher amounts of healthy omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins than those from commercially raised animals.
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4. Dairy Products
While milk and dairy products contain protein and calcium, some varieties are loaded with unhealthy saturated fats and cholesterol. The homogenization and sterilization destroys some of the important enzymes in the milk. Experts now realize that calcium from plant based sources is more readily absorbed than previously believed. This means that if you have been relying on milk and dairy products to ensure that you get enough calcium in your diet, you may be able to rely more heavily on naturally fat-free whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables.
In addition to being concerned that dairy animals are often inhumanely treated, it is important to be aware that milk and dairy products that come from non-organically raised animals are likely to contain hormones, antibiotics and other harmful chemicals.
Serious, sometimes deadly, infections including vancomycin resistant enterococcus (VRE), methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and clostridium difficile (C Diff) are rampant due to the overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance in people has increased not only because of over use of medications to treat infections in humans, but because antibiotics are routinely added to animal feeds. When you eat or drink dairy products from animals that have been consuming antibiotics, you are exposed to those drugs. If you need treatment for an infection, it may be harder for an antibiotic to work well for you.
One of the most detrimental aspects of consuming dairy foods is that the animals are given hormones to increase milk production. While a few jurisdictions require that products from animals that have received hormones are labeled as such, most do not. Hormone disruption is a major contributor to the development of many ills, including menstrual difficulties, premature puberty and cancer. Choose organic dairy products or dairy free alternatives in order to optimize your level of health.
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Eating well is one of the best steps you can take to ensure that you live a long, healthy life. While we are fortunate in today’s world to have access to a magnificent array of foods, it is important to stay informed about what foods are the healthiest to eat. While this may initially seem daunting, it is actually fairly simple. Eat local foods, in season. Consume a primarily plant based diet and opt for organic foods when possible.
However, most of all it is important to relax, enjoy the foods that you eat, and not become so concerned with what is healthy that eating becomes a chore, rather than a delight.
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