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Top 10 Most Dangerous Foods In The World Graphic © healthpowerboost.com. Background image: Pixabay (PD)
A nutritious diet goes a long way in preventing and even treating disease—that’s obvious. What’s not so obvious is differentiating between foods that are good for your health and those that wreak havoc on your body systems.
Eating nutrient-depleted foods puts you at risk of serious health problems now and in the long run. As a health-conscious individual, you owe it to yourself and your family to be prudent about what you put on your dinner plate.
“So many people will go to great lengths to protect themselves and their children from harm, danger, and accidents,” Dr. Sten Ekberg remarks. “Yet they will fill their pantries and fridges with food that is guaranteed to hurt them.”
So, what foods can hurt you? Here are Dr. Ekberg’s top 10 most dangerous foods in the world:
1: Processed Grains
Processed or refined grains are typically stripped of important nutrients, including fiber. This is an issue because the body breaks down refined carbohydrates quickly, which leads to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and insulin.  This spike is followed by a crash that may leave you fatigued, craving another high-carb meal, and at increased risk of type 2 diabetes. 
Consider substituting processed/refined grains with whole grains that have plenty of dietary fiber and are rich in nutrients.
2: Kids’ Cereals
Kids’ cereals are often promoted as a healthy breakfast option. But this might not always be the case. Many breakfast cereals tend to lack filling nutrients like fiber and protein, are made from refined grains, use additives, and may be loaded with added sugar. High consumption of these ingredients is harmful and may increase the risk of several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 
3: Fruit Juice
Fruits are widely known to be an important part of a healthy diet. With this in mind, it’s easy to assume fruit juice is just as healthy. But you’d be mistaken.
For one, liquids are less filling than solid foods, so you’re more likely to consume more calories via juices. But that’s not even the main issue with fruit juice. While homemade options can be nutritious, many pre-made fruit juices on display shelves contain high amounts of fructose—a type of sugar linked to liver damage and insulin resistance. 
4: Plant Oils
Plant/vegetable oils are a contentious food. They’ve been pushed as healthier options for a long time, but some emerging studies suggest otherwise.
The main concern with plant oils is their high content of omega-6 essential fatty acids. While omega-6s are not necessarily bad, they need to be balanced with omega-3s—preferably under a 1:1 or 4:1 ratio. However, consuming too much vegetable oil may throw this ratio out of whack. Modern diets may have an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of 20:1, which may have adverse pro-inflammatory effects linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 
Takeaway? Limit your intake of omega-6s (e.g., soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil) and increase omega-3s in your diet (e.g., walnuts, cod liver oil, and fatty fish).
5: “Low Fat”
You’ve likely come across foods marketed as “low fat” in an attempt to frame them as healthy. However, research suggests that this may be misleading. According to a 2016 study published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, low-fat products often contain high amounts of sugar to compensate for the flavor lost from removing fat.  Fat-free and low-fat foods are also less filling, and you may end up eating more than you would full-fat options. 
Margarine often contains high amounts of trans fats, which are linked to various chronic diseases. According to a systematic review in the British Journal of Medicine, trans fats are associated with coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality.  This is part of the reason the U.S. banned the use of artificial trans fats. 
7: Diet Soda
Diet soda is yet another potentially dangerous food masquerading as a healthy option. Sure, the beverages don’t contain sugar (i.e., zero calories). But research links diet soda consumption to several serious health issues, including increased blood pressure and belly fat. This may be due to altered brain responses that increase the desire for high-calorie foods. 
8: Sugary Snacks
As you can guess, sweet treats and most sugary snacks are laden with sugar. They’re also likely made from refined carbs low in important nutrients like fiber but high in unhealthy ingredients such as trans fats and additives. 
According to a 2021 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, eating sugary snacks and other types of ultra-processed foods is linked to greater risks of depression, stroke, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heavier body weight, and death. 
9: Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks such as sports beverages tend to be high in artificial colors, added sugars, and stimulants like caffeine. A number of studies show that frequent consumption of sweetened beverages is linked to serious health issues like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. 
10: Ultimate Insult To Health – Combine As Many As Possible
The foods and beverages mentioned above are potentially dangerous in their own respect. But what’s more concerning is that these items are often consumed together. For example, a sugar snack may be accompanied by a can of diet soda. Or margarine is spread on white bread made from processed grain.
The takeaway is to proactively investigate the nutritional facts of the foods that make up your diet. Avoid unhealthy options (such as the ones listed above) and stick to healthier, nutrient-dense options.
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 Taha, A. Y. (2020). Linoleic acid–good or bad for the brain?. NPJ science of food, 4(1), 1-6: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41538-019-0061-9
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 Nguyen, P. K., Lin, S., & Heidenreich, P. (2016). A systematic comparison of sugar content in low-fat vs regular versions of food. Nutrition & diabetes, 6(1), e193-e193: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4742721/
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 Food and Drug Administration: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/trans-fat
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