Everything in moderation, right?
ALSO: Be sure to read Mike's "Fats, cholesterol and the lipid hypothesis" article for more information on foods to avoid.
You can eat anything as long as it’s in moderation. How many times have you heard this statement? Or better yet, how many times have you made that statement? I will not deny that there are some foods you can eat in moderation that are not considered health foods but still have some nutritional benefits. Pizza, chocolate and ice cream are three of the most common examples, as long as they’re made with whole, natural ingredients.
The problem we Americans face is that most of the foods we eat are not only lacking any nutritional value, they are made with ingredients that have serious health consequences. The following are some of the worst foods and ingredients we need to stay away from, in no particular order. When it comes to these items, there is no moderation.
Sources: This garbage is found in everything from soda to cereal. It’s literally in thousands of products. Read your labels.
The “fat carb” has been in our food supply for more 35 years. We’ve been led to believe that fructose from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is akin to naturally occurring sugar, the same that’s found in fruit. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fructose from HFCS is not the same as the molecule from sucrose (table sugar), or fruit leveulose.  Is it any wonder they have worked so hard to link HFCS to something natural and healthy like fruit?
The problem is our bodies metabolize HFCS differently than sucrose or fruit leveulose. When we consume sucrose, our bodies convert it into glucose, which raises our blood glucose levels. We then get an insulin spike to shuttle the glucose where it’s needed. When we consume HFCS, unlike natural sugar, it is metabolized in the liver and produces high triglyceride levels which are linked to heart disease. In addition, HFCS does not induce insulin secretion, nor does it boost leptin production, both of which are key signals for decreasing hunger. Hence, the name “fat carb.” Eat it, get fat. Eat more, get fatter.
Russ Bianchi, a pharmacologist and toxicologist, explains: “There is no safe form of fructose available from any source, unless already existing in an unprocessed apple or other piece of fruit. The science is known and epidemiologically proven.” 
If you follow the obesity epidemic in the U.S., you’ll find that Americans are eating less fat. In 1965, men ate an average of 139 grams and women 83 grams of fat per day. In 1995, men ate 101 grams and women ate 65 grams of fat per day.  With the way fat has been demonized over the last four decades, you’d expect an increase in fat consumption to be the main cause of the obesity epidemic, yet it’s not.
What does mirror the increase in fat Americans is the consumption pattern of HFCS. Between the years of 1970 and 1990, HFCS consumption increased 1000% and today represents 40% of the sweeteners added to foods and beverages. In fact, HFCS is the sole caloric sweetener in soft drinks in the United States. Is it any wonder that obesity is an epidemic? One of the main ingredients in our food supply not only converts to fat when we consume it, it facilitates fat storage. And Americans as a whole are eating more and more and more.
Sources: Corn oil, soy oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, cotton seed oil, walnuts, flax oil, hemp oil, herring, salmon, sardines, mackerel.
Technically called lipids, fats and oils are made up of many different types of fatty acids. Fatty acids are the same whether they come from plants or animals. Oleic acid that is found in olive oil is exactly the same as the oleic acid found in lard (pig fat). It’s the proportions of fatty acids that will vary from plant to plant, from animal to animal and from plant to animal.
Safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils all contain more than 50% of the highly unstable fatty acid omega-6 and should never be used in cooking, frying or baking. Heating these oils causes oxidation and produces large amounts of free radicals.
We have been force fed a load of crap concerning the virtues of polyunsaturated fats. We’ve been told relentlessly that polyunsaturated fats are good for our health and to increase our consumption. Unfortunately, polyunsaturated fats cause many health problems. One of the biggest reasons polyunsaturated fats are so unhealthy is because they are very susceptible to becoming oxidized or rancid when exposed to heat and light. The polyunsaturated oils you buy in grocery stores are already rancid.
The extraction process is the problem:
|Throughout the entire process, these oils are exposed to oxygen.|
1. The oil is extracted with mechanical pressing and heated to 230 degrees.
2. Then a chemical solvent is used to get what oils are left.
3. The solvent is then boiled off, gain exposing the oils to heat.
4. Because these oils become rancid, they are treated with deoderizers to get rid of the horrible smell.
5. Finally, most oils are then bleached to give them eye appeal. Americans love the light golden color.
Now, you go to the store to purchase soy oil, which has been touted as super healthy, not knowing that you’re actually purchasing a free radical cocktail that, over time, causes serious health problems. Free radicals, or “chemical marauders” as some scientists refer to them, reek havoc on our bodies. They have been linked to problems ranging from wrinkles to premature aging to cancer.
Sources: Any foods containing “shortening,” “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil” in the ingredients list.
These manmade fats, like fructose, are in thousands of products. I cannot stress enough the importance of reading food labels. However, do not be fooled by products that claim “zero trans fat”. Showing the power the edible oil and processed food industries have, the FDA agreed to allow food labels to list trans fat as zero if it contains a half a gram or less. And yes, small amounts of trans fat will yield negative consequences over time.
Decades of research show the consumption of trans fats to be detrimental to health. As early as the 1940s, researchers found a strong correlation between cancer, heart disease and the consumption of hydrogenated fats. 
What are trans fats? They are poison in our food supply. “The latest government study confirms that trans fat is directly related with heart disease and increases LDL cholesterol. Because of that, the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, declared there is no safe amount of trans fat in the diet.”  “There should be a warning on food made with this stuff like there is on nicotine products. It’s that bad for you, says Dr. Jeffery Aron, a University of California at San Francisco professor of medicine and one of the nation’s leading experts on fatty acids and their effect on the body. 
Poison is the most appropriate description of trans fat I can think of. These manmade fats are literally toxins in our bodies. Trans fat is produced through the process of hydrogenation. This process turns polyunsaturated oils into fats that are solid at room temperature, which are used to make products like margarine and shortening.
You talk about the ultimate junk food. Doughnuts are the king. It is said this tasty treat has been around since the colonial times. In the middle of WWI, millions of American soldiers were fed doughnuts by women volunteers. These soldiers were nicknamed “doughboys."
Despite its history, the doughnut is by far one of the top three worst foods you can eat. Made from enriched white flour, sugar, and other nutrient-free ingredients (depending on the type of doughnut), they are then fried in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. The donut is a nutrient-free, calorie-dense food full of free radicals and trans fat. Below, you’ll find some nutritional information from KrispyKreme.com.
The average krispy Kream doughnut yields:
200 to 380 calories
12 to 20 grams of total fat with 4 to 7 grams being trans fat
10 to 27 grams of sugar.
In 1960, the average American consumed about 81 pounds of fresh potatoes and four pounds of frozen french fries. In 2000, health conscience as we are, we consumed about 50 pounds of fresh potatoes and 30 pounds of frozen fries. And McDonald's is happy to help meet that demand. They are the number one purchaser of potatoes in the U.S. 
The popularity of McDonald's French fries is legendary. Their fries used to be made from scratch every day and fried in beef tallow. This, despite what’s been shoved into our heads over the years, is the best/healthiest way to make fries outside of frying them in coconut oil. Then, in the early '90s, because of the cholesterol scam and vegetarian wackos, McDonald's switched to pure vegetable oil. Polyunstaturated fats and trans fat, ummmmmmm yummy.
Nutritional information from McDonalds.com:
|Total fat||Trans fat|
Nutritonal information from Burger King:
|Total fat||Trans Fat|
The next time you make fries at home, because I know you won’t be eating fast food varieties, cut a few sweet potatoes to the size you like. Fry them in a pan of organic virgin coconut oil and salt to taste. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good these fries are, and they’re much healthier for you.
As stated earlier, fructose is the sole sweetener of soft drinks in the U.S. Children and adolescents in the U.S. are increasingly choosing soft drinks rather than milk or juice. The USDA’s Economic Research Service found that the consumption of soft drinks increases as a child becomes older. On average, for every one ounce reduction in milk consumption, a child consumes 4.2 ounces of soft drinks.  Just what a growing child needs.
Between the years 1970 and 2001, per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks more than doubled. By 2001, per capita milk consumption had dropped to 22 gallons, while soft drink consumption soared to 49 gallons.  Should we be worried about this shift in drink consumption? You bet.
One can of soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar in the form of manmade fructose, and if this isn’t bad enough, soft drinks also contain high levels of phosphates. These higher phosphate levels have been alleged to cause osteoporosis in adults and impaired calcification in the growing bones of children. “Soft drinks have long been suspected of leading to lower calcium levels and higher phosphate levels in the blood. When phosphate levels are high and calcium levels are low, calcium is pulled out of the bones. The phosphate content of soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi is very high and they contain virtually no calcium.” 
We have been led to believe that soy is a health food. However, contained in the United States Food and Drug Administrations Poisonous Plant Database, which contains references to the scientific literature describing studies of the toxic properties and effects of plants and plant parts, under soy there are 288 records.  The deleterious effects soy has on our bodies are caused by several different substances -- we’re going to go over just a few.
One of the substances contained in soybeans is goitrogens. These are naturally occurring and interfere with the function of the thyroid gland. Goitrogens get their name from the term “goiter,” which means enlargement of the thyroid gland.  Other foods that contain goitrogens include: broccoli, cabbage, mustard, peanuts, turnips, brussel sprouts, and others. However, unlike soy, the goitrogens in these foods are easily neutralized by cooking or fermentation. Heat, pressure or alkaline solutions will neither deactivate nor remove goitrogens from soy.  They are virtually in all soy foods, with the highest concentration being in products that are not fermented like tofu and soy sauce.
Another nasty substance found in soy that can inflict damage upon your body is phytoestrogens. Isoflavones are examples of phytoestrogens and are in many plants, with the highest concentration being in soy beans. Phytoestrogens, although not hormones, are very similar and can bind to estrogen receptor sites and have been shown to cause negative effects.
Phytoestrogens' ability to decrease testosterone has been shown in several studies. [14-16] In fact, as long ago as 164 BC, monks included tofu in their diet as an aid to spiritual enlightenment and abstinence. They found the more tofu they consumed, the lower their libido.
The following is an excerpt from a letter written by scientist to the FDA concerning soy’s health benefits approval. The FDA’s own researchers raise valid concerns about the safety, let alone the health benefits, of soy. 
Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration
National Center For Toxicological Research
Jefferson, Ark. 72079-9502
Daniel M. Sheehan, Ph.D.
Director, Estrogen Base Program
Division of Genetic and Reproductive Toxicology
and Daniel R. Doerge, Ph.D.
Division of Biochemical Toxicology
Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
Rockville, MD 20852
To whom it may concern,
We are writing in reference to Docket # 98P-0683; "Food Labeling: Health Claims; Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease." We oppose this health claim because there is abundant evidence that some of the isoflavones found in soy, including genistein and equol, a metabolize of daidzen, demonstrate toxicity in estrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid. This is true for a number of species, including humans. Additionally, the adverse effects in humans occur in several tissues and, apparently, by several distinct mechanisms.
Our conclusions are that no dose is without risk; the extent of risk is simply a function of dose. These two features support and extend the conclusion that it is inappropriate to allow health claims for soy protein isolate. Additionally, isoflavones are inhibitors of the thyroid peroxidase which makes T3 and T4. Inhibition can be expected to generate thyroid abnormalities, including goiter and autoimmune thyroiditis. There exists a significant body of animal data that demonstrates goitrogenic and even carcinogenic effects of soy products (cf., Kimura et al., 1976). Moreover, there are significant reports of goitrogenic effects from soy consumption in human infants (cf., Van Wyk et al., 1959; Hydovitz, 1960; Shepard et al., 1960; Pinchers et al., 1965; Chorazy et al., 1995) and adults (McCarrison, 1933; Ishizuki, et al., 1991).
The health labeling of soy protein isolate for foods needs to be considered just as would the addition of any estrogen or goitrogen to foods, which are bad ideas. Estrogenic and goitrogenic drugs are regulated by FDA, and are taken under a physician's care. Patients are informed of risks, and are monitored by their physicians for evidence of toxicity. There are no similar safeguards in place for foods, so the public will be put at potential risk from soy isoflavones in soy protein isolate without adequate warning and information.
Daniel M. Sheehan
Daniel R. Doerge
The following is a list of myths and truths about soy taken from westonaprice.org.
Myth: Asians consume large amounts of soy foods.
Fact: Average consumption of soy foods in Japan and China is about 10g (about 2 teaspoons) per day. Asians consume soy foods in small amounts as a condiment, and not as a replacement for animal foods.
Myth: Soy foods provide complete protein.
Fact: Like all legumes, soy beans are deficient in sulfur containing amino acids methionine and cystine. In addition, modern processing denatures fragile lysine.
Myth: Fermented soy foods can provide vitamin B12 in vegetarian diets.
Fact: The compound that resembles vitamin B12 in soy cannot be used by the human body; in fact, soy foods cause the body to require more B12.
Myth: Soy formula is safe for infants.
Fact: Soy foods contain trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function. In test animals, diets high in trypsin inhibitors led to stunted growth and pancreatic disorders. Soy foods increase the body's requirement for vitamin D, needed for strong bones and normal growth. Phytic acid in soy foods results in reduced bioavailabilty of iron and zinc which are required for the health and development of the brain and nervous system. Soy also lacks cholesterol, likewise essential for the development of the brain and nervous system. Megadoses of phytoestrogens in soy formula have been implicated in the current trend toward increasingly premature sexual development in girls and delayed or retarded sexual development in boys.
Myth: Soy estrogens (isoflvones) are good for you.
Fact: Soy isoflavones are phyto-endocrine disrupters. At dietary levels, they can prevent ovulation and stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Eating as little as 30 grams (about four tablespoons) of soy per day can result in hypothyroidism with symptoms of lethargy, constipation, weight gain and fatigue.
Myth: Soy isoflavones and soy protein isolate have GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status.
Truth: Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) recently withdrew its application to the FDA for GRAS status for soy isoflavones following an outpouring of protest from the scientific community. The FDA never approved GRAS status for soy protein isolate because of concern regarding the presence of toxins and carcinogens in processed soy.
Myth: Soy foods are good for your sex life.
Truth: Isoflavones in soy have been shown in several studies to lower total testosterone and increase sex hormone binding globulin which adheres itself to free testosterone rendering it inactive. Numerous animal studies show that soy foods cause infertility in animals. Japanese housewives feed tofu to their husbands frequently when they want to reduce his virility.
What to do?
Would you like to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and a whole host of other ailments? Would you like to keep your thyroid healthy and your libido normal? Then avoid the above foods and substances like the plague. I know it’s asking a lot because fructose, soy, polyunsaturated fats and hydrogenated oils are virtually in tens of thousands of products, but 10, 20, 30 years from now you’ll be very happy you did.
Next month, we’ll be discussing the healthiest foods and substances essential for your daily consumption. (Read it here.)
2. "Is lots of fructose water foolhardy? Apology, too.” Sugarshockblog.com, 13 September 2005.
8. Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation. New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 2001
9. Bray et al. “Consumption of high fructose corn syrup in beverages may play role in the epidemic of obesity” Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 79(4): 537.
13. Daniel, Kayla T. The Whole Soy Story. Washington, New Trends Publishing, 2005.
15. Habito, RC et al. “Effects of replacing meat with soybean in the diet on sex hormone concentrations in healthy adult males.” Br J Nutr. 2000; 84(4), 557-563.
16. Weber, KS et al. “Dietary soy-phytoestrogens decrease testosterone levels…” J Endocrin. 2001; 170(3), 591-599
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