No matter how healthy you think certain foods are, there are probably some things you should know before buying. Take superfoods, for example. On the outside they appear to be the pinnacle of health, but oftentimes they’re secretly gross foods you shouldn’t put in your body. In order to gain a better understanding of what you’re putting into your body, you should look further than marketing buzzwords and convenience, such as pre-washed salad mixes.
Even if you think your diet is the healthiest out there, there is always something you can learn. The first thing to pay attention to are marketing buzzwords, like “all-natural,” “sugar-free,” “organic,” and “gluten-free”… among many others. We’ve rounded up a list of foods that seem healthy on the outside but are sneakily unhealthy.
1. Pre-washed salad mixes
Many love the convenience of pre-washed salad mixes. They require no chopping, no draining, and you can pop it right into the bowl. Right? Wrong. According to Fooducate, a site dedicated to educate the general populous about food ingredients and healthy living, bacteria adhere to cut greens versus uncut, which is why many pre-washed mixes require a disinfectant.
The most common washing fluid — even used by organic salad companies — mix water with a little bit of chlorine. Although the chlorine isn’t immediately detrimental to human health, I prefer my salad greens chlorine-free. Food writer and expert Joanna Blythman told Daily Mail Online her research suggests that pre-washed salad mixes are soaked in old tap water with chlorine before being packaged for the consumer. Her advice? Rewash the mixes or buy uncut lettuce versions. In 2007, there was a warning on ready-to-eat foods (specifically pre-washed, bagged mixes) for both salmonella and E.coli.
2. Table salt
A little salt never hurts anybody — except when it’s extremely refined, hypertension-causing table salt. White table salt that we see at virtually every restaurant around the globe is manufactured to strip away all of its naturally occurring minerals. The naturally occurring (healthy!) iodine is replaced with a dangerous substance called potassium iodine, stabilized with dextrose, which turns it purple, and then is bleached white. Celtic sea salt and Himalayan pink sea salt are fantastic natural alternatives.
3. Farmed fish
Fish is all the rage lately, especially omega-3-bursting salmon. While salmon (and fish in general) is a fantastic source of lean protein filled with healthy fats, farmed specimes are problematic. Getting farmed fish, even though it technically is “healthy” can be virtually meaningless if you get the wrong kind. When it comes to buying fish, farmed fish are fed genetically modified feed. Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization, found that farmed salmon in grocery stores in Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Portland contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are manufactured chemicals that can be potentially detrimental to humans. PCBs in humans are linked to increased rates of gall bladder cancer, liver cancer, and melanoma. Farm-raised fish have also been found with neurotoxins and carcinogens. Get organic, non-GMO fed, wild fish to protect yourself from these harmful chemicals.
4. Fruit juice
Fruit juice is found in some of your favorite “juice” brands. Although the label may say it has five vegetables and fruits, pay attention to how it was made. This goes for orange juice at breakfast, too. Heating juice, which many major juice companies do, denatures, or kills, the juice so there is no longer any vitamins or minerals in it. Although it tastes the same, it is only flavored fructose. When you drink juice with no vitamins (especially compared to eating the actual fruit of the juice), your glucose levels go up, giving you energy, then suddenly drop to cause a crash. Our bodies have a hard time metabolizing all of the fructose we put in our bodies through juice, so the rest gets stored as fat, according to Dr. Axe.
5. Microwave popcorn
In general, popcorn is fairly healthy (that is if you get quality popcorn that you cook on the stove with healthy oil). Microwave popcorn is extremely unhealthy. The difference? The bags are coated with Teflon and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOAs). These acids are linked to cancer, while man-made Teflon isn’t. And the fake butter flavoring found in most microwave popcorn contains diacetyl, which is linked to lung disease.
In general, research products before you by them. Chances are, if you can’t pronounce or understand the majority of the ingredients, it is filled with chemicals. Some vitamins have chemical-like names, so be sure to look up ingredients next time you’re shopping.