The 4 worst foods you can eat

Improve your diet by limiting your consumption of four of the worst foods you can eat

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1. Soft drinks

“[Soda pops contain] empty calories without any nutritional value,” says says Richard Béliveau, chair for cancer prevention and treatment at the University of Quebec in Montreal.

In his book, Eating Well, Living Well (McClelland & Stewart), Béliveau writes that Canadians drink 120 litres of soft drinks per year. With 30 g of sugar in each 350 mL bottle of Coke, we’re using a lot of unnecessary sweet stuff to wash down our meals.

But pop isn’t the only beverage that can sneak unnecessary calories into your diet. New research suggests that beverages such as alcohol and sweetened and unsweetened fruit drinks may account for a too-large proportion of our recommended daily calorie intake. In an 18-month study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, subjects consumed more than 350 of their daily calories from beverages-that’s about 20 percent of their total daily intake.

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diet products

2. Diet products

If you rely on diet products to keep your weight in check, you may be doing your body more harm than good. “Research shows that eating these products stimulates the appetite and can lead to weight gain,” Béliveau writes in Eating Well, Living Well.

As well, diet products, such as fat-free salad dressing, can sabotage a healthy meal, making them some of the worst foods you can eat.  “Sometimes people think fat-free salad dressings are great for them, but you need a bit of fat in your salad dressing to help you absorb the vitamin A in the salad that you’re eating,” says Zannat Reza, a registered dietitian based in Toronto. You also might be tempted to drench your veggies with a dressing labelled fat-free, which could add more calories and sodium to your meal.

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packaged cakes

3. Packaged cookies, cakes and chips

“Processed foods are dangerous for your health,” says Béliveau. That’s partly because many industrially produced products contain trans fats-fatty acids that are produced when manufacturers use a chemical process to turn liquid oil into solids.

This process, called partial hydrogenation, gives manufactured foods a longer shelf life, but it also makes them some of the worst foods you can eat. Trans fats raise your LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower your HDL (good cholesterol) levels and, according to Health Canada, is associated with a higher risk for heart disease.

Look at a product’s ingredient list before deciding to purchase it. Products that list hydrogenated oil, salt, sugar or high-fructose corn syrup as the first ingredients are all negative for your health, says Béliveau.

Since 2007, Health Canada has called on the food industry to to reduce the amount of trans fats in commercially produced products within two years. However, the label trans-fat free may not mean the product does not contain trans fats. A food product qualifies to display the label if it contains less than 0.2 g of trans fat per serving.

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french fries

4. Fried foods

French fries, fried chicken and onion rings all have one negative thing in common: “[They have] high saturated-fat content,” says Béliveau. Saturated fats, also found in butter, lard and coconut oil, raise your LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and can increase your risk for heart disease and some cancers.

Fried foods may also contain high levels of trans fats, another reason why these greasy dishes are some of the worst foods you can eat.

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