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October 7, 2016
By A. Weinberg, Contributing Columnist
New studies come out each week for what's bad for you, what makes
you fat, what's the new miracle food you should be eating all the time.
Sometimes, it can make a person cynical or throw up her hands and
say, “I can't do anything right!”
Eating right isn't too much like rocket science. The problem is that there
are a lot of common products that creep into our diets by habit or on
weekend birthday parties. And sometimes we lose track of just how
much of them we are actually consuming.
We live in a world where many things are packaged and overprocessed,
and unfortunately, that includes our food, too. One reaction to this is
the Paleo diet. Other people go raw vegan. I'm of the opinion that you
don't need to go straight to those options unless it feels good for your
body. There are many things that you can add to your eating routine,
and many things you can entirely cut out.
Here, I've compiled a list of some edibles that you definitely don't need
in your life, at least not in high doses.
1. Fructose Has Been Linked to Diabetes
I know that sometimes a fizzy, sweet drink can be the best thing to
balance out something salty, like a pile of fries. However, neither of
these things are great to indulge in on a regular basis.
Fructose appears in a lot of processed products, including McDonald's
hamburger buns, coca-cola, and probably your favorite sugary cereal.
Unfortunately, according to a 2008 report by Richard J. Johnson from
the University of Florida, more than 50 grams of fructose per day could
be one of the underlying causes of metabolic syndrome and Type 2
Fructose intake has a correlation with the rate of diabetes worldwide,
and the consumption of it has been show to induce factors associated
with metabolic syndrome in both lab animals and humans.
For example, it has been found to raise uric acid levels, which has to do
with the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome.
If you'd like to replace fructose, try eating things with honey or stevia
instead. Even regular table sugar is better for you than high fructose
corn syrup, one of the most common and unhealthy sources of
2. Eat Soy Only in Moderation
Soy is a phytoestrogen and an isoflavone, and when consumed in
moderation, these can be beneficial.
But, if you are a person who is binging on soy to replace dairy, meat,
or both, beware. Change it up with other proteins and vegetables.
In 2012, DR. C.R. Cederroth from the University of Geneva Medical
School in Switzerland wrote a report confirming that soy can have
potentially adverse effects on development, fertility, and on endocrine
and reproductive systems.
Although soy is a phytoestrogen, it can have possible side effects on
both male and female bodies. Soy may in fact reduce sperm count.
It's okay to have soy, but remember to eat a balanced diet. Nuts,
beans, and legumes can also be high in protein and other nutrients.
3. Margarine Clogs Your Arteries More Than Even Butter
It turns out the “healthy butter substitute” is not really a viable
alternative. Margarine is a major source of trans fatty acids, which have
been shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
In 2007, Dr. M.W. Gillman from the Harvard Medical School summarized
the results of an interesting study.
From 1966-1969, 832 men without heart disease, ages 45-64 took part
in an experiment. From a single 24-hour dietary recall and estimated
daily margarine intake, they calculated heart disease, and using
proportional hazard regressions, The coronary heart disease incidence
rate ratios over 21 years of follow up. With an average energy intake of
2,619 kcals and an average margarine intake of 1.8 teaspoons per day,
there were a total of 267 incident cases of CHD.
Oddly enough, butter was not associated with an increase in coronary
heart disease risk incidence at all. So, when you're looking for
something to put on your toast, maybe it's better with butter. Or better
yet, try some avocado.
4. Potato Chips Pack on the Pounds, Pure and Simple
I love potatoes in all forms. Chips, fried, boiled, mashed.
However, it's best not to overindulge when it comes to bathing them in
oil. According to a 2011 study by Dr. D. Mozaffarian and colleagues
from Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women's Hospital,
potato chips are one of the top factors in weight gain.
The scientists did various investigations, with three separate cohorts,
that included 120, 877 men and women, none obese or with chronic
diseases. Follow up periods were from 1986-2000 and 1991 to 2003.
Relationships between lifestyle factors and weight changes were
evaluated at these four year intervals, and multivariable adjustment
were made for age, baseline body-mass index for each period, and for
Potato chips turned out to be on the top of the list for weight gain,
where the crunchy snack packed on an average of 1.69 pounds.
The average weight gain overall was 3.35 pounds. Watch out for those
guys. If you're like me, you love the crunchy texture, but there are
plenty of options to get that taken care of. Nuts, especially almonds and
cashews also achieve that need for bite, or if you're into veggies, some
5. Processed Meat
If you're thinking of a hamburger and fries, that's a really bad double
In 2011, Renata Micha, from the same team of universities that took
down potato chips (Brigham and women's hospital and Harvard
Medical School) researched with colleagues about processed meat's
effect on health.
Red, processed and total meat consumption was evaluated, as well as
its correlation with CHD, stroke, and diabetes. Micha and researchers
investigated several studies, 20 of which met the criteria. All the data
included 1, 218, 380 individuals: 23, 889 cases of CHD, 2,280 of stroke,
and 10,797 of diabetes.
Regular red meat was not associated with diabetes, while with
processed meat there was a 42% higher risk of CHD and a 19% higher
risk of diabetes.
Processed meats, as well as those preserved by smoking, curing, or
salting, are linked to an increased of colon cancer, as well, according to
the American Institute for Cancer Research. If you must eat meat, get it
free-range and unprocessed and cook it accordingly.
6. Artificial Sweeteners Cause a Spike in Your Appetite
Many people use artificial sweeteners in their coffee or tea to avoid the
deadly plague that is sugar.
While that last part was only partially ironic (sugar is pretty bad for
you), artificial sweetener might not be much better.
In 2016, Dr. J. Shearer from the University of Calgary wrote a report
detailing how these sweeteners may actually contribute to the
development of metabolic derangements that lead to type 2 diabetes,
obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
While the long-term nature of the studies and variables make it difficult
to get accurate results about humans, animal experiments have
revealed some disturbing data: In both lab and agricultural settings,
scientists discovered that artificial sweeteners promote food intake and
weight gain, and induce metabolic alterations. In other words, there's a
high probability that these sweeteners could cause obesity and its
accompanying problems in humans. Try honey or stevia as a
sweetener, or real sugar, if neither of those tickle your fancy.
7. Commercial Cake Frosting
From the desk of Captain Obvious, we have this little gem. However
bad for you eating a few cookies or having a slice of cake may be
though, let's admit it. We all indulge.
But, when you do so, avoid the frosting. Like margarine, this contains
trans fat. 2 tablespoons of prepared coconut frosting contains 1.5
While it may not seem like much, the American Heart Association
recommends limiting trans fat to 1% of daily calories consumed, in
other words, 2 grams a day on a 2000 calorie diet. It also contains
sugar. Dietician Vandana Sheth confirms, “When you pick up a tub of
store-bought frosting to spread over your cakes or cookies “you are
not only getting a lot of sugar, but also a product that’s high in trans
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