By Kirstie Iona McIntosh
True, we are surrounded by junk foods, packed with sugar, fat and salt and generally processed to the extreme — but which ones are the real worst foods to eat, the foods that you really should avoid?
Now we are not saying that these types of foods should never pass your lips again, they’re are certainly not in the toxic foods category, it’s just a heads up on the fact that they shouldn’t feature too heavily in your diet if you want to maintain healthy nutrition and maybe lose a few pounds.
Worst food 1: Fried desserts
Fried desserts feature high up on the list of worst foods to eat as essentially you are dipping something in batter that is already high in sugar and fat, and then deep frying it. And don’t be fooled by pineapple and banana fritters either; they are no better because they are fruit. The layer of batter and the fact they are swimming in sugary syrup make them one of the worst foods too. (Check out some healthy dessert options.)
Worst food 2: Pork scratchings (pork rind or crackle)
Heavy and hard, we are talking fatty pig skin deep fried and then doused in salt. Also, if you are lucky you might even get one sporting a few hairs; pig hair is usually removed by quickly burning the skin before it is cut into pieces and cooked in the hot fat.
Worst food 3: Cheesy fries
Fries could feature as a bad food on their own, but taking a plate of fried potato and layering it in cheese, well, that takes them up a notch in the bad food stakes. Cheese typically contains over 10 times as much saturated fat as fish and white meat and coupled with deep fried carbs, a serving of cheesy chips are a big bad no-no.
Worst food 4: Fizzy drinks
Pop and soda — yeah they’re bad, mainly because they pack massive amounts of calories, even in small quantities, so you are adding to your daily calorie quota and getting little nutritional value in return. Studies have also linked fizzy drink consumption to osteoporosis, tooth decay and heart disease. And diet drinks are not recommended either, granted they are lower in calories but as they contribute to dental erosion (the bubbles in the drink are acidic) they are a no go as well.
Worst food 5: Coloured alcopops
Alcopops are again big calorie culprits as they are packed with sugar and calorific alcohol. Plus the fact that they are full of colours and flavourings all contribute to making them a pretty toxic tipple. Little rule of thumb, the brighter the colour of the alcopop, potentially the worse it is for you. Instead opt for clear spirits with soda, tonic or fruit juice and steer clear of the technicolour stuff.
Worst food 6: Liquid meals
Okay, they aren’t inherently bad for you, but liquid meals or meal-replacement drinks do keep you from eating proper food. You need to make sure you are eating whole, natural foods to ensure you gain all your essential nutrients. Meal replacements maybe okay for people who are too ill to eat, but don’t let them replace the real foods in your diet.
Worst food 7: Processed meats
These are also sometimes referred to as ‘mystery meats’ because it’s ambiguous as to what some of them actually contain. But you can be assured that if it comes from a can and is kind of unrecognisable — it’s not going to be great for your body. Try to steer clear of sausages and salamis too; these food stuffs are generally all the unwanted bits churned up with fat and salt – we are talking heads, knees and toes (plus a few other less-desirable body bits).
Worst food 8: Chicken nuggets
First off, chicken nuggets that are not made from fillets are the real bad guys. Again it’s similar to the sausages situation; all the leftover carcass bits mixed up with bulking agents so manufacturers can crank out more portions. But it’s when these little nuggets are deep fried that really boosts their ‘worst-food’ status and it’s all to do with the size. Smaller fried items, i.e. nuggets, absorb more fat that larger pieces of fried goods, so a portion of nuggets will pack way more fat than a single larger fried piece. So if you want fried chicken — go for a big breast.
Worst food 9: Doughnuts
If there is one food that epitomises 21st century junk food it’s the doughnut. Coated, filled, glazed, sugared, jam crammed or plain old ring, they are not great for your body. And it’s not only the refined flour, refined sugar and then the frying in the refined oil that makes them bad for you. Doughnuts will upset blood-sugar balance and give a quick high followed by a ‘crash and burn’ low, then you guessed it, you’re hungry again and reaching for another one — that’s why they generally come in boxes of 10 or 12!
Worst food 10: Canned soups
Now, soups don’t seem to be one of the bad boys and in comparison to some of the above they probably can sit quite comfortable in the middle of the bad-food scale, but it’s their salt-packing stealth that gets them into this list. Soups mainly sport a healthy identity; wholesome, warming and good for you. The reality is that many canned varieties are high in salt, so if you must have soup, avoid the canned ones or make your own.