An unhealthy diet can be a contributing factor to getting health conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Those who want to eat a healthy diet should not only focus on consuming foods that are recognized for their nutritive value, but should also strive to eliminate those foods and additives which are substantiated as detrimental to health.
Saturated fats raise blood cholesterol and increase the likelihood of coronary disease, heart attacks and stroke according to the American Heart Association. Fats contain more than twice as many calories per gram than carbohydrates and proteins, making them easier to overindulge in, and subsequently gain weight.
Artificial sweeteners, such as acesulfame-K and saccharine, have been linked to cancer, according to Better School Foods. Additionally, sorbitol has a laxative effect and aspartame causes symptoms in those who are sensitive to including headaches, hallucinations and dizziness. Aspartame also contains high levels of phenylalanine, so those with PKU should avoid consuming it, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Hydrogenated Oil and Trans Fats
Any food item that lists hydrogenated oil among its ingredients contains at least a small amount of trans fats. The American Heart Association recommends avoiding trans fats as studies link them to raised LDL cholesterol levels. Increased LDL cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease and other health problems. Hydrogenated oils are found in many snack foods and baked goods.
White flour has been overprocessed to the extent that most of the nutrients have been eliminated. According to an article in Oprah Radio, white flour should be avoided, and products made with whole grains substituted.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
A 2007 study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" by Richard J. Johnson links high fructose corn syrup to obesity, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. High fructose corn syrup is abundant in sodas and sweet treats as well as savory foods from breads to barbecue sauces.
According to Better School Foods, artificial colors can cause hyperactivity, allergic reactions, fatigue and headaches in those who are sensitive to these ingredients.
BHT, TBHQ and BHA, the benzoate perservatives, have been linked to cancer, as well as hyperactivity, dermatitis and asthma, according to Better School Foods. These are found in baked goods, cereals, meats, snack foods, butter, beer and dehydrated potatoes.
Salt contributes to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Limit processed foods and do not add salt at the table. A very small amount of sodium is necessary for good health, but that amounts to less than 1,500 mg per day, which most Americans greatly exceed with their typical diets.
Because caffeine is a stimulant that is mildly addictive, as well as being linked to osteoporosis, jitteriness and headaches, Better School Foods recommends avoiding it entirely.
Processed Meats with Nitrites
Hot dogs, bacon and processed meats contain nitrites, which can combine with other ingredients found in the stomach to form nitrosamine, a substance that is known as carcinogenic. Best School Foods recommends avoiding any products with these ingredients.
- Better School Foods: List of Unhealthy and Other Additives to Avoid When Raising Healthy Children
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Potential Role of Sugar (Fructose) in the Epidemic of Hypertension, Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, Kidney Disease, and Cardiovascular Disease
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- Oprah Radio: The Best and Worst Foods for Weight Loss