7 Junk Foods to Avoid - 8 Things You Need to Know
There are lots of reasons to stay away from junk foods or unhealthy foods. They make you gain weight and lead to health issues. They even worsen your mood and lower your motivation. Sometimes, it seems like every “guru” out there has their own list of what’s good and bad. Fortunately, our team of experts has boiled down the real information for you into this clear, easy-to-read list of foods to stay away from.
Vegetable and Seed Oils
Until very recently in our evolutionary history, we weren’t exposed to the kind of oil that comes from vegetables and seeds. Thus, oils like corn oil and soybean oil are unnatural for our bodies. The issue with seed and vegetable oils is their high omega-6 fatty acid content. To be healthy, we need omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a certain ratio. You should try to get more omega-3 than omega-6 in your diet.
If you eat too much omega-6, you can end up suffering from inflammation. This leads to other health problems that make your life uncomfortable. Another issue with seed and vegetable oils is that they contain polyunsaturated fats. These have abundant reactive double bonds, which makes them sensitive to oxidation. In short, overusing seed and vegetable oils in your cooking can cause illnesses like inflammation, and cardiovascular issues (see studies in Current Genomics, The British Journal of Nutrition, and Vascular Pharmacology). Try to limit your intake of omega-6 fatty acids while increasing omega-3. You can do that by incorporating more fatty fish into your diet.
Low-Fat and Diet Food Options
The companies that mass produce junk food have very smart people doing their advertising. Often, they dishonestly market their products as “diet” and “low-fat” to convince people to buy. But the truth is that these products aren’t as healthy as the manufacturers would like you to believe. In fact, foods that are “diet,” “whole grain,” and “low-fat” typically have higher amounts of sugar. Sugar is much worse for you than fat. Always read the label before buying a new product. Don’t be fooled by flashy terms like “low-fat” and “diet.” Pay careful attention to the nutritional content.
Research from The Journal of the American College of Nutrition and The Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggest some people don’t respond well to gluten or whole wheat. Whole wheat can raise your cholesterol. Another important reason to stay away from whole wheat is that it has an extremely high glycemic index number. The result is that you’re left anxious for more high-carb food soon after eating the whole wheat.
There’s been a lot of research done on the effects of low-carb diets (see The Annals of Internal Medicine and The Lancet). These diets avoid the consumption of sugars and starches. According to these studies, people who want to lose weight are better off eliminating all grains from their diet.
If weight loss is not an issue, then eliminating grains and replacing them with healthier, non-gluten grains like oats and rice is a smart choice. The main point is that grains contain no essential nutrients that aren’t found more abundantly in vegetables or animal-based foods. If you want to maintain a healthy diet, it’s best to reduce the number of refined grains you eat. While you can eat grains like rice and oats if you’re in good health, it’s best to make vegetables and animal-based products the basis of your diet.
Are Sugar and Corn Syrup Junk Foods?
It’s no surprise that sugar is on junk foods. Sugar holds little nutritional value and is a source of empty calories, according to The Nursing Journal, The New Zealand Medical Journal, and The Journal of the American Dietetic Association. It’s true that refined sugar offers no essential nutrients in exchange for its high-calorie content. But that isn’t the only reason sugar is bad for you.
According to multiple research in Diabetes, PLoS One, JAMA Internal Medicine, Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, Nutrition, and International Journal of Cancer, sugar is directly associated with some of the biggest diseases affecting western society.
And there’s the fact that sugar tends to be very addictive, a study in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews says. It’s easy to binge on. Weight gain is inevitable. Stay away from sugar at all costs. Especially keep away from sweetened drinks (including soda and fruit juice), sweet snacks, and dried fruit.
Junk Foods Containing Trans Fat
Trans fats have been modified to increase their shelf life and to be solid at room temperature. The process behind trans fat involves high pressure and hydrogen gas (see Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research and Food & Nutrition Research). When you think of the intense chemical changes these fats are put through, it’s no surprise they’re bad for you. When you eat trans fat, it raises LDL cholesterol (the bad kind of cholesterol) while lowering HDL cholesterol (the good kind).
Trans fat also raises your abdominal fat, which is a cause of many health issues, according to research from Obesity and Obesity Surgery. Don’t eat trans fats. Period. They may lead to heart issues and serious illness.
Are Processed Foods Junk Foods to Avoid?
Why avoid junk foods that are processed? They’re convenient, but are they unhealthy foods? The concern with processed foods relates to the artificial ingredients (see BMJ Open and Public Health Nutrition). Choose real food over processed food. It’s better for you, tastes fresh, and gives you more energy!
Artificial Sweeteners Hidden in Junk Foods
Artificial sweeteners are generally considered safe; plus it’s calorie-free. One of the few sweeteners not listed on a junk foods list is stevia.
Conclusion on Junk Foods
Living healthy is often about making the right choices. You don’t have to sacrifice taste. Many great-tasting foods are also good for you. Avoiding the foods on this list will keep you in better health and give you more energy to get through your day.
Summer Banks has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with professionals in the weight loss industry and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University.