- Sugary drinks
When consumed in large amounts, sugar can drive insulin resistance and is strongly linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It’s also associated with various serious conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Most pizzas
Most commercial pizzas are made with unhealthy ingredients, including highly refined dough and heavily processed meat. Pizza also tends to be extremely high in calories.
- White bread
Most commercial breads are unhealthy if eaten in large amounts, as they’re made from refined wheat, which is low in fiber and essential nutrients and may lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar
- Most fruit juices
While juice contains some antioxidants and vitamin C, it also packs high amounts of liquid sugar. In fact, fruit juice harbors just as much sugar as sugary drinks like Coke or Pepsi — and sometimes even more.
- Sweetened breakfast cereals
Breakfast cereals are processed cereal grains, such as wheat, oats, rice, and corn. They’re especially popular among children and frequently eaten with milk. To make them more palatable, the grains are roasted, shredded, pulped, rolled, or flaked. They’re generally high in added sugar. The main downside of most breakfast cereals is their high added sugar content. Some are so sweet that they could even be compared to candy.
- Fried, grilled, or broiled food
Foods cooked in these ways are often highly palatable and calorie-dense. Several types of unhealthy chemical compounds also form when food is cooked under high heat. These include acrylamides, acrolein, heterocyclic amines, oxysterols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Many chemicals formed during high-heat cooking have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
- Pastries, cookies, and cakes
Most pastries, cookies, and cakes are unhealthy if eaten in excess. Packaged versions are generally made with refined sugar, refined wheat flour, and added fats. Shortening, which may be high in unhealthy trans fats, is sometimes added. These treats might be tasty, but they have almost no essential nutrients, copious calories, and many preservatives.
- French fries and potato chips
However, the same cannot be said of French fries and potato chips. These foods are very high in calories, and it’s easy to eat excessive amounts. Several studies link French fries and potato chips to weight gain. These foods may also contain large amounts of acrylamides, which are carcinogenic substances that form when potatoes are fried, baked, or roasted.
- Gluten-free junk foods
Yet, people often replace healthy, gluten-containing foods with processed junk foods that happen to be gluten-free. These gluten-free replacement products are often high in sugar and refined grains like corn starch or tapioca starch. These ingredients may trigger rapid spikes in blood sugar and are low in essential nutrients.
- Low-carb junk foods
While you can eat plenty of whole foods on such a diet, you should watch out for processed low-carb replacement products. These include low-carb candy bars and meal replacements. These foods are often highly processed and packed with additives.
- Ice cream
Ice cream may be delicious, but it’s loaded with sugar. This dairy product is also high in calories and easy to overeat. If you eat it as a dessert, you’re usually piling it on top of your normal calorie intake.
- Candy bars
Candy bars are incredibly unhealthy. They’re high in sugar, refined wheat flour, and processed fats while also very low in essential nutrients. What’s more, these treats will leave you hungry because of the way that your body metabolizes these sugar bombs.
- Processed meat
Even though unprocessed meat can be healthy and nutritious, the same is not true for processed meats. Studies show that people who eat processed meats have a higher risk of many serious ailments, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Most of these studies are observational in nature, meaning that they can’t prove that processed meat is to blame. However, the statistical link is strong and consistent between studies.
- Processed cheese
Cheese is healthy in moderation. It’s loaded with nutrients, and a single slice packs all the nutrients as a glass of milk. Still, processed cheese products are nothing like regular cheese. They’re mostly made with filler ingredients that are engineered to have a cheese-like appearance and texture. Make sure to read labels to confirm that your cheese contains dairy and few artificial ingredients.
- Most fast food meals
Generally speaking, fast-food chains serve junk food. Most of their offerings are mass-produced and low in nutrients. Despite their low prices, fast foods may contribute to disease risk and harm your general wellness. You should especially watch out for fried items.