By Tiffany Gagnon Men's Fitness
They may taste good, and appear somewhat harmless, but if you value your health, step away from these chemical-laced, high-sugar foods.
Your diet is an incredibly powerful thing. As you’ve adapted yours, you’ve most likely seen positive changes in how you look and feel. On the flip side, you also know what your body feels like when it's running on chemical-laden, high-fat foods. And while you generally know what to avoid, some of the worst offenders aren’t so obvious. That's why we've enlisted the help of New York City-based dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot M.S., R.D., who's helped us compile a short list of foods that should never make it past your lips.
1) Farmed Salmon
Salmon is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It’s particularly high in omega-3 fatty acid, which can help lower triglyceride levels and blood pressure. Salmon also contains energy-boosting B vitamins and vitamin D, which is found naturally in very few foods. The problem with the farmed variety of the fish: “Farmed salmon is higher in contaminants and contains more saturated fat and more sodium compared to wild salmon," explains Zuckerbrot. "So opt for wild salmon when possible and you’ll also get more potassium, calcium, and iron.”
2) Conventionally-Grown Apples
Apples make the perfect on-the-go snack, but grab the wrong kind and you'll be ingesting a bit more than you bargained for. The average conventionally grown apple is covered in more pesticide residue than any other fruit or vegetable in the grocery store, according to an Environmental Working Group report. Opt for organic apples if you can.
3) White Chocolate
Don’t get your chocolates twisted. Dark chocolate is one of the healthiest superfoods out there, but the white stuff doesn’t even come close to providing health benefits. A three-ounce serving contains a whopping 50 grams—that's more than 12 teaspoons' worth—of sugar. “Overconsumption of sugar can have health consequences, like obesity and tooth decay," notes Zuckerbrot. "Swap white chocolate for a one-ounce piece of dark chocolate, which has been shown to have heart health benefits.”
4) Food Coloring
Food coloring is sneaky. Unless you’re eating whole foods 24/7, it’s likely that you’re downing some dye here and there. “Not only have food dyes been linked to hyperactivity, artificial food coloring is also a red flag that a food may be nutritionally lacking," says Zuckerbrot. "Far better are natural additives, like beetroot powder or paprika, which are used to enhance the color of food.”
5) Creamy Salad Dressing
You should be eating salads every day, but one shake of creamy Caesar dressing and that good nutrition gets buried under a mountain of crap—not to mention, the calorie count for your healthy meal or snack just doubled. “These dressings contain a smorgasbord of preservatives, like MSG, food dyes, and ingredients that keep these mass-produced products creamy and fresh for long periods of time," says Zuckerbrot. "Instead, stick to olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar to keep your salads chemical- and cream-free.”
6) Fried Chicken
Chicken is an excellent source of protein, making it one of the best muscle-building foods. But once you toss that baby in a fryer, you turn a fat-burning all-star into a waistline-expanding food that will put you at risk for serious heart problems. “One measly piece of fried chicken adds about 10 grams of fat to your diet, and a high-fat diet has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease," says Zuckerbrot. "Instead of frying your chicken, save yourself nine grams of fat by baking it in the oven and squeezing lemon on top for an extra burst of flavor.”