Worst Foods for the Body

Iced Tea

Harmful Ingredient: Propylene glycol alginate (E405)

What’s a food additive that contains compounds also found in automotive antifreeze and runway de-icer? Sadly, there are a few, including this one. Propylene glycol alginate is a food thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier, and it can cause cardiovascular or neurotoxic issues. And it’s used in Dunkin Donuts iced tea, among others.


Harmful Ingredient: Mercury

Ranked the #1 Worst Fish, you know tilefish must be pretty dangerous if it’s deemed scarier than shark and swordfish. You might as well drink some battery acid with the amount of mercury in these ocean creatures.

Eat This Instead: Atlantic Mackerel, aka the #1 Best fish on our list!

Microwave Popcorn

Harmful Ingredient: Trans-fats

If you thought the movie you were watching was terrifying, you probably haven’t taken a very close look at your popcorn. When air-popped, this snack has filling fiber and whole grains we love, but the microwaveable varieties are an entirely different beast. Many major brands like Jolly Time and Jiffy Pop contain heart-harming trans fats. What’s more, butter-flavored favorites are almost always laced with diacetyl (DA), a chemical that has been found to break down the layer of cells that protects one of our most vital organs: the brain. Now that’s some scary stuff!

Fast Food Chicken Nuggets

Harmful Ingredients: Diglycerides, Red #40, carrageenan

Chicken nuggets all start with chicken but also contain several synthetic ingredients from diglycerides to Red #40 to carrageenan. These chemicals help make overly-processed foods like chicken nuggets possible because that’s what keeps the (very few) organic materials in the nuggets from going bad (or looking weird) after days spent traveling on the road or months in the freezer. But even if you buy them at the grocery store, you might not be safe.

White Sugar

Harmful Ingredient: Sugar (duh)

According to the CDC Americans eat a whopping 82 grams of added sugar a day—which is 37 grams above the recommended intake! There’s a gross factor to white sugar, too: Refined white sugar is bleached in a process that entails running the sugar through “bone char” or “natural carbon”—both fancy terms for charred cattle bones. Confectioner’s and brown sugar can also be culprits, as they are variations of white sugar. Say goodbye to added sugars—and goodbye to your belly

Sugary Cereal

Harmful Ingredients: Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), refined carbs, added sugar

There’s no sugar-coating it: sugar wreaks havoc on the body. Consuming too much of the white stuff can lead to obesity, which often causes other health problems like diabetes and heart disease. And many cereals pack more sugar into one bowl than you’ll find in a Boston Kreme Donut! To make matters worse, many popular varieties like Frosted Flakes and Fruity Pebbles are also laced with Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) or BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), ingredients that are banned in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and much of Europe because they are thought to be carcinogenic.

Diet Sodas

Harmful Ingredients: Caramel coloring, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), Bisphenol A (BPA), aspartame

What do cancer-causing artificial colors, flame retardants, and waist-widening fake sugars all have in common? They’re ingredients in all your favorite diet fizzy drinks. Shove all that into a plastic bottle laced with BPA, a chemical that’s been linked to obesity, and you’ve pretty much got the worst drink ever. Nearly all popular diet sodas contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener that raises glucose levels, overloading the liver and causing the excess to convert into fat. And that’s not all: The caramel coloring found in brown beverages like Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper has been proven to cause cancer in animals and is a possible carcinogen for humans. If citrus-flavored sodas like Diet Mountain Dew and Fresca are your go-to, you’re not off scot-free. Instead of caramel coloring, they contain BVO, a chemical used in rocket fuel and flame retardants that may reduce fertility and can negatively affect thyroid hormones.

Coffee Creamer

Harmful Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, trans fats, added sugar

Coffee creamer and sunblock have more in common that you might think. They both contain titanium dioxide, an ultraviolet radiation blocker that doubles as a whitening agent. Besides lurking in many conventional creamers, it’s also found in seemingly ‘healthy’ bottles, too. The additive has been proven to cause liver and tissue damage in mice, and may also have health implications in humans, according to a recent review of the chemical. Coffee creamer is also typically packed with trans fats, often hiding under its lesser-known name: hydrogenated oil. Pretty much all of Coffee Mate’s products have this scary ingredient that has been shown to diminish memory in adults under 45 years old. If you’re working hard or don’t want to forget where you parked your car, this is one ingredient you should steer clear of.

Processed Meats

Harmful Ingredients: Nitrate, excess sodium

The bacon and sausage you enjoy for breakfast and the deli meats you use to make your lunch may be putting your life at risk. How? Many of these meats contain nitrates, a preservative that interferes with the body’s natural ability to process sugar, which increases the risk for diabetes. It can also up your odds of developing thyroid and colon cancer. If that wasn’t bad enough, most processed meats are also loaded with sodium, a known contributor to hypertension that can make you bloat and set you up to develop heart disease.

Deep Fried Foods

Harmful Ingredient: Hydrogenated oil

Fried chicken, fried cheese sticks, fried calamari, French fries. You won’t ever see these items marked as an “Eat This.” They cause trouble for your body for a variety of reasons and can wreak havoc on your weight. But there’s more: They’re also linked to depression. Deep frying is usually done in partially hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenation is a process that turns vegetable oil into a more solid form, which makes it a more shelf-stable product. Anything that is cooked with hydrogenated oils and contains trans fats could potentially contribute to depression. It can also clog your arteries and contribute to heart disease.

Frozen Entrees

Harmful Ingredients: Sodium, trans fats

From preservatives and artificial fillers to mountains of sodium that wreak havoc on your mood, frozen entrees are not to be trusted. So, you’ve been warned:

Restaurant Desserts

Harmful Ingredient: Sodium

And here you thought we’d say the sugar. And calories. And fat. And everything else. While that’s all true, and restaurant desserts are dangerous because the portions are often oversized, it’s the sodium content that many people don’t even think about. That innocent looking dessert you see pictured above has a whopping 1,380 calories, 92 grams of fat, 700 milligrams of sodium, 125 grams of carbs, and 86 grams of sugar.

Energy Drinks (most)

Harmful Ingredient: Sucrose, glucose, caffeine

Ever wonder why all energy drinks taste like cough syrup? We can only imagine the number of broken Bunsen burners it took to come up with the now-familiar energy drink formula. No doubt this strange medicinal taste makes consumers feel like they’re deriving real benefits from one of these cans. All they’re really deriving, though, is an overpriced chemical cocktail with the caffeine content of a strong cup of coffee and a lot of sugar (or scary artificial sweeteners). P.S.: A University of Maryland study found energy drinks to be 11 percent more corrosive to your teeth than regular soda.

Ice Cream

Harmful Ingredients: Soybean oil, titanium dioxide, artificial coloring

Most “premium” ice creams are overloaded with sugar and soybean oil, a fat that’s been linked to weight gain. Some even contain harmful artificial coloring agents and titanium dioxide, an additive that gives sunblock its white hue!

Breakfast Biscuits (white flour)

Harmful Ingredient: Trans fat

Making biscuits from scratch can take forever, and the majority of the packaged varieties are chock full of trans fats, an artificial fat—invented to make baked goods more shelf-stable—that’s been linked heart disease. Each of Mary B’s Buttermilk Biscuits carries three grams a pop (which is more than a day’s worth). And though the nutrition label on Pillsbury Grands! Buttermilk Biscuits reads “0 grams” in the trans fat column, it’s made with hydrogenated soybean oil—a dead giveaway that there are traces of the dangerous fat in the biscuits.

Pancake Syrup

Harmful Ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring

Famous syrup brands like Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth are made with two ingredients we’re constantly telling readers to avoid: health-harming high fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring.

Farmed Salmon

Harmful Ingredients: Omega-6s, PCBs

Atlantic salmon is the Kid Rock album release of the refrigerator section: Always bad news. By definition, all Atlantic salmon is farm-raised and packed with inflammatory omega-6s. Because salmon farmers feed their fish soy, farmed salmon has around 1,900 milligrams of the unhealthy fatty acid while wild salmon has just 114 milligrams. It gets worse: Farmed salmon are usually dyed pink, have been found to be high in PCBs (cancer-causing industrial chemicals that were banned in 1979) and have one-fourth the belly-flattening vitamin D of their wild cousins.

Sports Drinks (most)

Harmful Ingredients: Wood rosin, artificial dyes

Whoever invented the Gatorade Dunk—the tradition in which winning sports teams dump coolers of the stuff on their coaches—was really on to something. One scan of the nutrition label and it’s clear: The sports drink is better off seeping into the sidelines than your stomach. Sure, it provides critical post-workout electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, but it also serves up a hearty helping of calories and sugar. In fact, there are 56 grams of the sweet stuff (which is more than a day’s worth) in a 32-ounce bottle. What’s more, the beverage is teeming with stomach-churning additives like wood rosin and artificial dyes that have been linked to cancer and hyperactivity in children.

Muffins (commercial)

Harmful Ingredients: Soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, and trans fats

That innocent-looking muffin may just give you a muffin top if you’re not careful. Hey, the name had to come from somewhere, right? A typical blueberry muffin carries nearly 400 calories and a third of the day’s fat, and eating half now and “saving the rest for later” is near impossible—likely because foods rich in carbs, fat and sugar can be downright addicting. A University of Montreal study found that mice who had been fed diets with high levels of those very nutrients displayed withdrawal symptoms and were more sensitive to stressful situations after they were put on a healthier diet. Plus, many commercial muffins are also spiked with waist-widening soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup and trans fats, an ingredient that’s been shown to decrease brainpower and diminish memory.

Mac & Cheese

Harmful Ingredients: Coloring agents Yellow 5 and Yellow 6

The glow-in-the-dark color of most mac and cheese products on the market doesn’t exist in the natural world and shouldn’t be ingested. Why? Well, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, studies have linked artificial food coloring to allergies, ADHD, and cancer in animals. Many of these dyes are made from coal tar — just like the products used to seal-coat industrial floors and kill bugs in lice shampoo.


Harmful Ingredient: Magnesium sulfate

Hardly what you might think of as a risky food item, virtually flavorless tofu—which is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks—actually harbors a the nasty coagulant magnesium sulfate. Studies have shown it can cause cancer in laboratory animals.


Harmful Ingredient: Sucralose

You don’t want your liver and kidneys to swell while your thymus gland shrinks. But if you did, consuming lots of the artificial sweetener Splenda would be a fantastic way to do it.

Hot Dogs

Harmful Ingredient: Orange B

There are plenty of good reasons not to eat hot dogs—their high levels of sodium and cancer-causing preservative nitrates are just two—but if you need another, here you go. The casing of many hot dogs is colored with a food dye called Orange B. High doses of it are bad for the liver and bile duct.


Harmful Ingredient: Trans fats

Mama’s baby may like shortening bread, but that’s because the infant’s knowledge of what trans fats do to his body is patchy at best. Harmful trans fats abound in any food that lists shortening or partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient. Trans fats will clog your arteries and cause obesity, but they’ll also increase your risk of metabolic syndrome.

Dyed Oranges

Harmful Ingredients: Citrus Red #1 and #2

This one’s a shocker: Oranges are bought more swiftly when they’re a little more orange than the color that was named after them. That’s what led someone to hit upon the idea of spray-painting them so they’d appear ripe, even if they aren’t. Both of these dyes can damage chromosomes and lead to cancer..

Frozen Fish & Fish Products

Harmful Ingredient: tert-Butylhydroquinone

This ingredient is found in many different food and non-food items, but the highest limit (1 gram/kg) permitted is for frozen fish and fish products. It’s a preservative that’s effective at extending storage life and, at high doses, could cause stomach tumors.

Soy Veggies Burgers

Harmful Ingredient: Soy protein

Soy protein is made from genetically modified soybeans (often grown in China) and then subjected to hexane, a chemical solvent that can literally explode.

Chewing Gum (most)

Harmful Ingredient: Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)

If you don’t swallow it, can chewing gum count as a food? Yes, because BHA is being released into your mouth. Used as a food preservative, BHA is commonly found in chewing gum, butter, cereals, snack foods, and beer. Not only has BHA have been shown to impair blood clotting when consumed in high quantities, but it’s also been linked to the promotion of tumor growth. Which led it to be banned from food in the UK, Japan, and many other European countries.

White Flour

Harmful Ingredient: Chlorine dioxide

A bleaching agent, chlorine dioxide is used in a variety of ways, including water treatment and the whitening of flour. According to research undertaken by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, this chemical has been linked to cancer.

Candy (most)

Harmful Ingredients: Artificial coloring, added sugar, saturated fats

You already knew all the artery-clogging fats and addicting sugars in candy weren’t doing you or your family any favors, but you likely didn’t realize that certain candies can make it more difficult for your little ones to concentrate. A few years ago, researchers discovered that the artificial colors, Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6 (found in M&Ms), promote Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in children. In fact, Norway and Sweden have already banned the use of these artificial colors, and in the rest of the EU, foods containing these additives must be labeled with the phrase: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”


Harmful Ingredient: Arsenic

You may know arsenic as a toxic chemical, but it’s also handy at staving off parasitic infections in poultry. As recently as early 2011, a drug called Roxarsone—which was later found to contain traces of inorganic arsenic—was still being used in chicken feed for this reason, and because it made chicken meat appear pinker and fresher. Since then, the National Chicken Council has said that it is no longer using arsenic-based drugs. The National Turkey Federation, however, says Nitarsone, another arsenic-based drug, is given to turkeys during the first few weeks of their lives and in summer months. It’s banned in the European Union. This stuff is bad for more reasons than can be listed here, but all you really need to know is that it is listed as a class 1 carcinogen, meaning that it’s highly toxic to humans.

Salad Dressing

Harmful Ingredients: Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, sugar

This catchy-sounding item is used as a thickening agent in salad dressing and, in high quantities, it can cause cancer.

Baked Goods

Harmful Ingredient: Potassium bromate (bromated flour)

Banned in Europe, Canada, and even China, potassium bromate abounds here in the U.S. and is found in wraps, rolls, bread crumbs and bagel chips. This food additive is an oxidizing agent used in baking. It helps producers cook things faster. It’s also been linked to kidney failure and cell deterioration.

Bottled Water

Harmful Ingredient: BPA (Bisphenol-A)

BPA is a hormone-mimicking chemical found in nearly all food packaging plastics, and it’s potentially bad news. Active in just parts per billion, one of the things BPA is known for is causing men to grow breasts by disrupting their hormones. It can also promote cancer and render people infertile.

Beverage Concentrates

Harmful Ingredient: Acesulfame-K, also known as acesulfame potassium or Ace-K.

This artificial sweetener is often used to make the bitter aftertaste of um…other artificial sweeteners. Acesulfame potassium is suspected of causing benign thyroid tumors. In rats, the development of such tumors took only three months. Consequently, the substance is believed to have carcinogenic properties.

Dried Fruit Snacks

Harmful Ingredients: Sulfites

Sulfites, which naturally occur in all wines and are added to some others, are used to keep prepared foods fresh. They’re often used in dried fruit snacks. Asthmatics are at an elevated risk for reaction to sulfites (though anaphylaxis and life-threatening reactions are rare). Other reactions include fun stuff like sneezing, swelling of the throat, hives, and migraine.

Foods Coated with Artificial Chocolate

Harmful Ingredient: Polysorbate 60

Short for polyoxyethylene-(20)-sorbitan monostearate, this emulsifier is widely used in the food industry. Made of corn, palm oil, and petroleum, this gooey mix can’t spoil, and it often replaces dairy products in baked goods. It’s commonly contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a chemical which has been shown to cause cancer in animals.


Harmful Ingredients: Sodium and potassium benzoate

A professor of molecular biology and biotechnology tested the impact of sodium benzoate on living yeast cells and found that benzoate damaged their mitochondria, an important area of DNA in the “power station” of cells. Potassium benzoate, like sodium benzoate often shows up in seemingly innocuous foods such as apple cider, low-fat salad dressings, syrups, jams, olives, and pickles, and it’s just as hazardous.

Jelly and Jams

Harmful Ingredients: Pectin and added sugar

These classic spreads look innocent enough, but they’re really just pieces of fruit smothered in calorie-laden sugar and pectin, a natural fruit fiber that makes the spread nice and sticky. What’s so bad about natural fiber? Well, just as it causes jelly to stick to your fingers, pectin also sticks to health-boosting antioxidants like beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, carrying them out of your system before your body can benefit from them. Smuckers Strawberry Jam and Concord Grape Jelly both contain high levels of pectin and quite a bit of added sugar, so be sure to keep your distance.

Lifestyle is always the key, Stay away from these foods and you will see and feel the difference.

Until next time, stay healthy !
Dr. Jimmy Steger