Baked goods – Most baked goods are made with white flour, which causes blood sugar levels to rise very quickly. This can cause problems such as insulin resistance and diabetes. The worst part is that these are some of the unhealthiest foods available, because they are high in calories and contain virtually no nutrients.
Food additives – Some food additives are dangerous because they can create harmful substances (such as carcinogens and free radicals) when they are cooked. This is the case with some artificial colourings, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), propyl gallate and tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). These additives are often used to prevent fats in food from going rancid, or to stop fruit and vegetables from browning.
Processed foods – These are a minefield when it comes to health, containing some of the most dangerous food additives in existence. They are also typically high in refined carbohydrates and low in nutrients, making them much worse for your health than natural unprocessed foods.
Salty foods – Excess salt is linked with high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. One of the worst things about eating too much salt is that it causes thirst – so you drink more water! This dilutes your body’s electrolytes, which creates a mineral imbalance in your blood called hyponatraemia. Symptoms of hyponatraemia can include nausea, headaches and disorientation.
Refined grains – The problem with refined grains is that they are missing many of the nutrients and fibre found in unprocessed whole-grains, while containing the same amount of calories. This means your body gets a lot more energy than it needs from refined grains, which can lead to weight gain. Eating too much refined grain can also cause harmful spikes in your blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes.
Trans/hydrogenated fats – Fats are essential for our survival, but the types of fat we eat can make all the difference when it comes to our health. Trans-fats are created by pumping hydrogen into vegetable oils in a process called hydrogenation. This is done in an effort to make vegetable oils solid at room temperature so they are more convenient for use in the food industry, but trans-fats can increase your risk of heart disease by up to 50%!
Saturated fats – Research shows that saturated fats could increase your risk of heart disease. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, ghee, lard and coconut oil, as well as meat and full-fat dairy products such as cheese and cream.
Sugar – There’s a lot of confusion around sugar at the moment, but it’s still best to limit added sugars in our diets as much as possible. Excess sugar can lead to weight gain and tooth decay, and eating too many sugary foods is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Alcohol – Alcohol provides energy but it can also increase your risk of some cancers and damage to the liver, brain, heart, pancreas and stomach. If you’re going to drink alcohol then do so in moderation as part of a sensible diet – for example; no more than 14 units per week if you’re a man or 7 units per week if you’re a woman.
Salt – Whilst adding salt to your food can make it taste better, eating too much is bad for your health and it can increase the risk of high blood pressure which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s recommended that adults eat no more than 6 grams of salt each day (about 1 teaspoon).