While a healthy diet can include all foods in moderation, you are better off avoiding some foods as much as possible. These foods provide little in the way of nutritional value and often contain ingredients that increase your risk for health problems later in life. Choose healthier options and your body will thank you.
One of the least healthy types of food you can eat is processed meats, such as bacon, ham, hot dogs and lunch meats. Processed meats are often high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Eating these meats can increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Choose lean beef, poultry and seafood, and make a bit extra when cooking your meals to use in sandwiches instead of cold cuts.
Sugary Drinks and Candy
Avoid foods that are high in added sugar, such as sugar-sweetened beverages and candy. They contain a lot of calories without providing any nutrients and take the place of more nutritious foods. According to the American Heart Association, these foods increase your risk for becoming overweight and may also increase your risk for heart disease, raising your blood pressure levels and adversely affecting your cholesterol levels. Limit added sugars to 100 calories per day. Drink water or other unsweetened beverages and stick to fruits or other foods that are naturally sweet when you need a sugar fix.
Salty Snack Foods
Another type of food to limit is salty snack foods like chips and pretzels. These foods are high in sodium, often high in fat and usually made with refined grains. They rarely provide any significant amount of vitamins or minerals. You should get no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, since this mineral may increase your blood pressure in high amounts. Make some air-popped popcorn and top it with a bit of Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and dill weed, or try carrots and celery sticks dipped in hummus for a delicious and healthy savory snack.
Skip the products made with refined grains, which have had the bran and germ removed so they have less fiber, vitamins and minerals than whole grains. Eating whole grains instead of refined grains may help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk for high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in December 2007.
Instant soups and noodles may be quick and easy to fix for meals, but they aren't at all nutritious. Not only are they extremely high in sodium, they also tend to be high in fat. A study published in "Nutrition Research and Practice" in October 2011 found that people who frequently consumed instant noodles were more likely to get too much sodium and fat and consume too many calories compared to people who rarely or never ate instant noodles. People who eat these noodles also tend to be less likely to get the recommended amount of some vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium, calcium, niacin, phosphorus and vitamins A and C. Make your own noodle soups instead using low-sodium chicken broth and whole-wheat pasta along with lean protein and vegetables, or at least choose low-sodium canned noodle soups.
- MayoClinic.com: Healthy Diet: End the Guesswork With These Nutrition Guidelines
- Circulation: Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus
- PLOS Medicine: A Prospective Study of Red and Processed Meat Intake in Relation to Cancer Risk
- Circulation: Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health
- MedlinePlus: Fat
- Nutrition Research and Practice: A Comparison of Food and Nutrient Intake Between Instant Noodle Consumers and Non-instant Noodle Consumers in Korean Adults
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.