14 Unhealthy Foods: This List Will Shock You

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unhealthy foods

Foods labels are often misleading, and foods that you assume to be good for you are quite the opposite. There are also lots of times when the foods we eat are masked with harmful ingredients. The items on the unhealthy foods list below are prime examples of one or both of these cases. Some of them are likely to surprise you!

So What if They’re Unhealthy Foods?

Over time, regularly consuming some foods that you mistakenly think are good for you can lead to many health conditions, including poor gut health, obesity, which can spiral into diabetes, and more. So it’s important to know exactly what you’re putting into your body.

If you suffer from a condition such as IBS and IBD, a Low FODMAP diet is a consideration. The harmful ingredients in these foods are also the main cause of many digestive health issues and poor gut health. We require foods that feed good bacteria to our gut, but the foods listed below build up bad bacteria in our gut instead.

Foods that are Shockingly Bad for You

Let’s take a look at this unhealthy foods list. If you’re like most people you’ve been misled to believe that we ought to consume them regularly, thinking that they have many health-related benefits:

1. Margarine and Spreads

Margarine and spreads began as a cheap alternative to butter. This product is another product with misleading labels; many of them claim to be healthy and free of artificial sweeteners. However, these products are made from refined vegetable oils.

In fact, the ingredients used in these kinds of margarine and spreads are so harmful that they can lead to major cardiovascular diseases. So, if you need butter, choose grass-fed butter. It is a non-processed product, and it is a healthier option.

2. Many Breakfast Cereals are Unhealthy Foods Too

Breakfast cereals are one of the most misleading products out there. Most people assume breakfast cereals are full of fiber. Surprisingly, many of them are on the unhealthy foods list here. When it comes to breakfast cereals, especially kids’ cereals, several of them are processed and stripped of fiber.

These cereals also typically have high amounts of:

  • Sugar
  • Flavoring
  • Coloring

Pesticides are also in some breakfast cereals. That all can lead to other major health issues. But not all cereals are bad for you. Here’s the main takeaway:

When shopping for cereals, choose organic options.

3. Low Fat and Flavored Yogurts

While yogurt is a healthy option, be careful about which type you purchase. Just like diet sodas, flavored yogurts are also full of artificial sweeteners or sugar. Some yogurts are also pasteurized and loaded with additives. So the next time you buy yogurt, choose plain ones and ones that contain no additives. You can also sweeten it yourself to make it yummy by adding some fresh fruit or a few pinches of cinnamon.

4. Unhealthy Foods List: Flavored Soy Milk

Plain soy milk is a good source of potassium and protein. However, flavored soy milk such as chocolate soy milk and vanilla are ones for the unhealthy food list. These milks are full of sugar. And they’re high in calories too so they can lead to weight gain. If you’re avoiding dairy and want alternatives, choose plain soy milk, hemp milk, and even almond milk over chocolate or vanilla soy milk.

5. Fruit Juices

Many of us are under the impression that fruit juices are a healthier alternative to fizzy sodas. However, fruit juices are just as unhealthy as those sodas. In some juice products, there is no actual fruit in them. They are made with chemicals and other ingredients that taste just like fruit.

6. Whole Wheat Bread

The exception here is 100% whole wheat. Unfortunately, some bread comes in deceiving packages that say they’re whole wheat but are made with enriched flour and the nutrients are often stripped away from them. They can also lead to weight gain. When it comes to choosing your bread, stick with ones that have words you recognize on the ingredients list.

Salad Dressings

7. Salad Dressings

Most brand name salad dressings contain unhealthy ingredients, such as:

  • Vegetable oils
  • Sugar
  • Unhealthy fats
  • Other artificial ingredients

So, even though you are consuming healthy vegetables in your salad, these commercial salad dressings make your salads into unhealthy foods. If you need to have a dressing in your salad, make your own. Search for some healthy salad dressings recipes online and try them out!

8. Diet Sodas

Think diet sodas are better than normal ones? Think again. Both diet and sugar-free cool drinks are full of artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners are in reality worse than sugar. As a recent study found, the people who consumed artificial sweeteners were more likely to suffer from obesity, weight gain, heart diseases, and diabetes.

9. Pretzels

Although pretzels are less fattening than potato chips, they contain no nutritional value. Pretzels don’t fill you up either, which causes you to eat more of them than an alternative. They are also made of white flavor, which increases the blood sugar levels. All of these details mount up to pretzels being a surprising addition to this unhealthy foods list.

10. Sports Drinks

Many people assume that sports drinks are just flavored water. However, sports drinks are full of electrolytes and sugar. So, if you’re training to lose weight, you’ll end up putting more calories on than burning it off with sports drinks as your beverage of choice.

11. Dried Fruit

Does it surprise you that dried fruit makes the healthy foods list? Many people assume that dried fruits are good for us because they have lots of fiber. However, dried fruits are preserved and also have plenty of sugar and sulfur. They are packed with calories too. So if you want to lose weight and stay healthy, stay clear of dried fruits. A better option is fresh fruit for weight loss.

12. Protein Bars

Protein bars are a prime example of a product with a healthy reputation that in actual fact is full of sugar. They have artificial ingredients. Don’t even start me talking about the amount of sugar in a lot of them either! These protein bars are often no better than eating a candy bar. Of course, there are exceptions; I’m just pointing out some of them are this way.

13. Tea Drinks

There’s no doubt that tea is healthy and has many wonderful health benefits. However, when it comes in a bottle or can, it’s probably not healthy. These bottled and canned teas typically contain artificial sweeteners or sugar and sodium. If you’re a tea lover, then make your own tea. Brew your tea at home and avoid these bottled and canned teas. Put it in a to-go thermos, and you’re on the way to work or an errand with a healthy drink.

14. Reduced Fat Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is another tricky product to buy and depending on what you choose it might be one of the unhealthy foods in your kitchen. When shopping, look for natural peanut butter. While peanut butter is full of monounsaturated fats, which are the good fats, the problem comes when you look ones with the reduced fat label. They are likely full of salt and sugar. Avoid any product with this label and opt for natural peanut butter instead.

In conclusion, eating well can be confusing with the number of misleading products out there. But hopefully by this unhealthy foods list can be useful when it’s time for your next grocery shop. In general, choose natural and fresh foods that are better for you.

Did it surprise you that anything on the unhealthy foods list above? What are some other foods to add here?

108 COMMENTS

  1. Great article! One of my pet peeves is the fact that product labels get away with misleading their consumers, resulting in higher sales which basically rewards them for their unethical behavior. I’ve found that ‘low fat’ products often contain extra sugar, while ‘low sugar’ products are loaded with fat. Better consumer choices will eventually lead to better product availability, so thanks for raising awareness. Every purchase choice DOES make a difference. Well done on this article.

  2. You forgot crisps,potato chips whatever you call them..i put on three stone from boredom eating at the job I was at & was eating upto four packets a day..left the job,stopped eating crisps & lost the weight.

    Very good advice Christy but I won’t give up margarine yet…i lost the taste for butter a few years ago 😞

  3. To everyone struggling I promise you would be suprised at what your body can do. You can actually do the whole workout physically but your mind is creating a barrier so push past it! It’s more of a mental thing than a physical, our bodies are amazing and are capable of far greater things than we realise

  4. None of this surprises me. It’s just common sense. There are only 2 items I eat occasionally. If something, a tad not good is eaten here and there midst a healthy diet, that’s a great diet!

    • You’re such a smart person to already know much of this, Resa. Unfortunately some people aren’t educated on the basics growing up and then that can turn into health problems as adults. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead xo

  5. I try and buy as many things as possible that don’t come out of packets and cans and opt for organic versions wherever possible. Reading food labels does stress me out, to be honest.

  6. Wonderful article, Christy; couldn’t agree more!
    I’m not gluten intolerant, but, I find I have the need to reduce wheat bread intake, regardless of its type. If it’s made with wheat, too much equates to gluggy tummy! I now entertain substitutes such as buckwheat, chia, quinoa, etc. Strangely though, I can eat pasta made from wheat with relatively no harmful consequences. Says a lot about the additives to be found in most wheat based breads!

  7. I do occasionally use some dried fruit but use it sparingly. Most of the other items you listed were not a surprise to me. It is much better to use whole foods and avoid prepackaged items when at all possible. Good article Christy!

  8. I’ve done a lot of nutrition research, so I’m not surprised by the info here. When it comes to yogurt, I stick with plain greek with honey an sometimes granola (which tends to have a ton of sugar). Mostly, it just does in my smoothies. It also works as a great substitute for sour cream on most foods.

    • Smoothies – yum! So many great options for those and they offer a great energy boost for the day. Great idea to replace sour cream with plain Greek yogurt! I’ll be over to visit this week 🙂

  9. I am not shocked at most of the things on the list, but I do have some comments.

    I only use either butter or a spread with a very high butter content, because I find that margarines give me IBS symptoms.

    Agreed, there is a ridiculous amount of sugar in some cereals, and even cereals marketed as being made from only natural ingredients still have a high amount of (natural) sugar in them; in UK, there are some brands that offer reduced-sugar alternatives.

    It is true that the amount of sugar in some yoghurts is crazy!!! I personally don’t like natural yoghurts, even with things added, because they taste too sour. But I am able to find one or two brands of greek yoghurt that are both lower in sugar than their competitors but, just as important, high in protein, meaning that they should in theory keep you full for longer.

    For fruit juices, I would recommend buying not-from-concentrate juices in the fridge compartment, they are made ONLY from fruit with no added ingredients. And they taste FAB!!! They are also one of your portions of fruit and veg a day… but only drink 200ml per day owing to the in-fruit natural sugar content.

    My favourite bread is from a supermarket in a large town a few miles from me, I don’t get it so often because I am not in that place regularly. But the amazing thing is, it is made of only FIVE ingredients… and it lasts for AGES without going off/moldy!

    The one thing that shocked me was protein bars… I’m really going to have to check the ones I have. I sometimes eat them while out and about to control hunger pains… but maybe I should instead just eat a banana.

    • Thanks Andrea for such a knowledgeable comment – it pleases me when the comments add additional facts and therefore value to posts here. That bread sounds amazing!!

  10. Some of these items really surprised me, though I was well aware of others. I learned to always check labels on fruit juice a long time ago, though how a product can be labeled “juice” when it contains so little is beyond me.

    • And juice “blends” (that word is on the package) will mean lots of sugar or other add-ons, usually! I’m glad you already know many of these foods facts, Amy 🙂 Wishing you good health!

  11. Hi Christy! Thanks for sharing such a detailed list We really do have to check the packages carefully…or make our own healthy low carb breads, protein bars, and snacks.

  12. Nicely summarised! Another issue is people being misled by labels…”a great source of omega 3” on fish fingers, but, to get the recommended level you have to eat around 70. Similar to the unhealthy cereals you’ve pointed out, claims to be “high in fibre” may be true if you eat the box in one sitting. These are examples and doesn’t apply to all

    • The labels can be confusing and assumptions are made that aren’t always correct, including the ones you point out in your astute comment. Thank you.

  13. I do agree with you. Nowadays all the food we buy from supermarkets is sort of rubbish, we pay for sugar, sweeteners and additives. If only we could have enough time to cook our own food as our grandparents used to do! 🙂 nice article!

  14. Actually the list didn’t shock me, but it was helpful.Thank you that you tell people the truth..All the fast food adds are making us think they are tasty, but actually they are junk food.

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