10 Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat
14 Foods You Should NEVER Eat
This article was written by Leah Zerbe and Emily Main and repurposed with permission fromRodale News.
What's the one food you refuse to eat? Peas? Tofu? Liver and onions? Whatever it is, it's probably because you don't like the way it tastes, not necessarily because it contains ingredients suspected of causing cancer or because it was picked by farmers wearing Hazmat suits. Yet, there are still a lot of those foods on store shelves, and food-industry insiders—who know what goes on behind the scenes—refuse to eat them.
We polled some of those insiders—people who know the business and work daily to evict pesticides, genetically modified organisms, animal cruelty, social injustice, and unhealthy foods from the food supply—to find out what they know about the dark side of "convenience" foods. Take note so you can avoid the worst of what grocery stores have to offer.
The expert:Philip Landrigan, M.D., professor of pediatrics and professor and chair of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
The problem:One of Dr. Landrigan's number one warnings to women pregnant or looking to become pregnant? "Make avoiding mercury in fish a priority," he says. Swordfish is notoriously high in the heavy metal, a potent neurotoxin that can damage developing children and even trigger heart attacks in adults. Aside from obvious health concerns, swordfish is often overfished and some of the gear commonly used to wrangle in swordfish often kills turtles, seabirds, and sharks.
The solution:For a healthy omega-3 brain boost, look for fish that are low in contaminants and have stable populations, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, Atlantic mackerel, or pole- or troll-caught Pacific albacore tuna. Got a more adventurous palate? Try snakehead fish to satisfy your fish craving and improve the environment. The invasive species lives on land and water, where it wipes out important frogs, birds, and other critters. Snakehead fish is popping up on some restaurant menus, and the taste and texture is about identical to swordfish.
The expert:Robert Kenner, director of Food Inc. and founder of FixFood.org
The problem:While filming Food Inc., Kenner says he wanted to film strawberry farmers applying pesticides to their fields. "The workers wear these suits to protect themselves from the dozens and dozens of known dangerous pesticides applied to strawberries," he says. "When I saw this, I thought to myself, 'If this is how berries are grown, I don't really want to eat them anymore.' I haven't been able to eat a nonorganic strawberry ever since." Unfortunately, for the food-concerned public, he wasn't able to get the shot of these farmers. "I guess they didn't think it looked too appetizing."
The solution:Opt for organic! The Environmental Working Group, which analyzes U.S. Department of Agriculture pesticide-residue data, has found 13 different pesticide residues on chemically grown strawberries.
The expert:Isaac Eliaz, M.D., integrative health expert and founder of the Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center in Sebastopol, California
The problem:Eliaz stays away from any diet soda or foods, sugar-free candies, and gum containing artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, and neotame, among others. "The safety data on these sweeteners is shrouded in controversy and conflicts of interest with the manufacturers of these chemical compounds," warns Eliaz. "Independent research strongly suggests that when metabolized in the body, these sweeteners can cause health-related issues and problems related to metabolism and weight gain, neurological diseases, joint pain, digestive problems, headaches, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, chemical toxicity, and cancer, among others."
The solution:If you're craving a soda but want to avoid the shady sweeteners, fake food dyes, and preservatives found in popular brands, try a bottle of Steaz zero-calorie green tea soda or Bionade, a fermented soda that's majorly popular in Europe.
The expert:Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri
The problem:The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A (BPA) a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Studies show that the BPA in most people's bodies exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 micrograms of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."
The solution:Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Eden Organic and Bionaturae. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, such as Trader Joe's and Pomi.
The expert:Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale Inc. and author ofOrganic Manifesto
The problem:Ironically, there's a lot of evidence that suggest using artificial sweeteners, which have zero calories, is just as bad for your waistline as using regular, high-calorie sugar. For instance, research from the University of Texas has found that mice fed the artificial sweetener aspartame had higher blood sugar levels (which can cause you to overeat) than mice on an aspartame-free diet. Not only are they bad for your health, scientists have detected artificial sweeteners in treated wastewater, posing unknown risks to fish and other marine life. Plus, as Rodale says, "They're unnatural, nonorganic, taste horrible, and lead to all sorts of bad health consequences, false expectations, and short-term strategic thinking."
The solution:Refined white sugar isn't any healthier, but you can replace it with small amounts of nutritional sweeteners, including honey, blackstrap molasses, and maple syrup, all of which have high levels of vitamins and minerals.
Butter-Flavored Microwave Popcorn
The expert:Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research at Women's Voices for the Earth, a nonprofit that advocates for environmental health issues that directly affect women
The problem:Diacetyl, a chemical used in butter flavoring, is used in a lot of fake butter flavorings, despite the fact that the chemical is so harmful to factory workers that it's known to cause an occupational disease called "popcorn lung," says Scranton. After news of the chemical got out to the popcorn-eating public, companies started replacing diacetyl with another additive—which can actually turn into diacetyl under certain conditions, she says. Neither chemical is disclosed on microwave-popcorn bags because the exact formulations of flavorings are considered trade secrets. "It's a classic example of the need for better chemical regulation and improved transparency on the chemicals used in our food and other household products," she says.
The solution:Make your own popcorn using real butter. Pop it on the stovetop in a pot, or go an easier route: Put a small handful of kernels into a brown paper lunch bag, and stick the bag in the microwave. The kernels will pop just like those fake-butter-flavored kernels in standard microwave popcorn bags. When they're done, pour some melted organic butter over them. "Makes pretty good popcorn at a fraction of the cost," says Scranton.
The expert:Drew Ramsey, M.D., assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and co-author ofThe Happiness Diet
The problem:The right kind of chocolate serves not only as a sweet treat but a brain-boosting superfood, too. The problem is, white chocolate's health profile is blank. "The data on the health benefits of cacao is pretty awesome," says Ramsey. "Much of this is due to a set of amazing phytonutrients that can increase blood flow to the brain, protect blood vessels, and boost mood and focus. White chocolate is missing all this goodness."
The solution:Indulging in a chocolate treat? Look for organic versions or spring for dark chocolate instead.
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