Negative Effects of Fried, Processed, Sugary Foods

Do you know that many foods you eat every day are loaded with calories, factory-created fats, salts, artificial flavors, sweeteners, colorings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives? Such foods are unhealthy and don’t ensure the necessary daily intake of vitamins and minerals.

And while occasional hamburger or can of Cola won't ruin your health, frequent consumption of the following foods may result in numerous health problems. And no matter how good they taste, if you care about your health you may wish to cut down the following. To give you a stronger motivation we provide scientifically proven information about the dangerous negative effects of these foods.

1 French Fries

Even home-made French fries is very unhealthy food. French fries are loaded with calories, sodium and fats. The average portion of french fries (170 g) contains 30 g of fat, up to 1200 mg of sodium and 550 Calories. And this can contribute to obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease.

French fries are cooked in ultra-hot oil which is high in trans fats. Many fast-food restaurants use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers. Trans fats are twice as dangerous for the heart as saturated fat. Why? Trans fats are a result of a hydrogenation that converts liquid fats, such as plant oils, to solid ones. It turns a healthy oil into an unhealthy one. Studies show that trans fats increase bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin levels and reduce beneficial HDL cholesterol, promoting heart attacks[1] and stroke[2].

There is some evidence, that high amounts of trans fats are not safe for pregnant women. Recent studies have demonstrated that high consumption of trans fats is associated with miscarriage[3] and the risk of preeclampsia[4]. Reseachers suggest that trans fatty acids can affect intrauterine growth due to the inhibition of the conversion of essential fatty acids by desaturase enzymes.

Potatos are high glycemic index food (rapidly converted to glucose that raises insulin levels). High consumption of potatoes and french fries is associated with increased risk of diabetes[6].

Acrylamide content is another negative feature of this food. Acrylamide, a known carcinogen and neurotoxin, is formed in foods during high temperature processes such as frying, baking, roasting and extrusion. And although acrylamide is known to form during industrial processing of food, high levels of the chemical are also found in home-cooked foods, mainly cooked potatos and grains. Acrylamide levels in home-prepared foods tend to grow with increase in cooking time and temperature[5].

The content of Acrylamide (micrograms per serving) in some commercial items (accorging to the data from Center for Science in Public Interest)

Item Micrograms per serving
Ore Ida French Fries, uncooked (3 oz.)
Ore Ida French Fries, baked (3 oz.)
Wendy's French Fries, biggie (5.6 oz.)
Burger King French Fries, large (5.7 oz.)
McDonald's French Fries, large (6.2 oz.)

Note: US Environmental Protection Agency allows no more than 0.12 micrograms of acrylamide in an 8-oz. glass of water.

2 Burgers

Hamburgers, cheeseburger, sandwiches, etc. are source of unnecessary calories and fat and have no nutritional value, they lack vitamins, minerals and fiber.

There is a difference among restaurants in terms of fat and calories content of burgers. Depending on cooking methods and ingredients, a regular hamburger with condiments, vegetables and without mayonnaise has about 280 Calories (about 14% of the needed daily value) and more than 13 grams of fat (about 20% of the needed daily value).

Frequent consumption of hamburgers is associated with weight gain and obesity in the United States[7]. Food that you eat may influence the body fat distribution. Researches found that high intake of hamburgers is associated with abdominal obesity in women[8].

Burgers have a lot of saturated and trans fats. And so everything that was earlier said about trans fats in french fries is also true for burgers. Trans fats raise total cholesterol levels, bad LDL, and highly increase the risk for heart disease[9-12]. Unacceptably high amounts of industrially-produced trans fat may produce a negative effect on the human fetus and on newborns.

Most hamburgers contain the flavour enhancer, MSG (monosodium glutamate) which causes among other headaches and allergic reactions. MSG is a chemical used to fatten up laboratory animals and evidence suggests it will ultimately make you fat when consumed.

Most burgers contain more that 1000 mg of sodium (45% of recommended daily value) and can promote water retention and high blood pressure.

3 Soft Drinks

The sooner you exclude it from your diet, the better. An average 325 ml can of soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 Calories, 30 to 55 mg of caffeine, artificial food colors and sulphites. Besides contributing to numerous health problems, soda often replaces healthy beverage choices[13]. Moreover, there are no nutritionally beneficial components in soft drinks. Yet the average American drinks about 57 gallons of soft drinks each year.

A common problem that is associated with consumption of a large number of soft drinks is the increased acid levels throughout the body. Most soft drinks contain citric, phosphoric and malic or tartaric acids. These acids are what give the drink the refreshing "bite" or "sting" and at the same time preserving the "quality" and sweetness of the drink. All soft drinks are very acidic, but dark colas such as Coke and Pepsi are much more acidic. Prolonged increased acid levels will cause erosion of the gastric lining, which is very painful and disrupts proper digestion.

Soft drinks harm teeth. Researches say that soft drinks are responsible for doubling or tripling the incidence of tooth decay. Sugar and acid in soft drinks easily dissolve tooth enamel[14].

Soft drink consumption is a significant risk factor for the development of metabolic syndrome[15], a combination of the symptoms such as high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks contain large amounts of sugars and contribute to increased risk of diabetes. According to the tests[16] of 91,249 women followed for eight years in the Nurses' Health Study II, women who consumed one or more servings of soft drink per day were twice as likely to develop diabetes than women who consumed less than one serving a month.

Soft drinks have negative effects on bone mineral density and contribute to osteoporosis[17]. Phosphoric acid in soda beverages upsets the body's calcium-phosphorus ratio and dissolves calcium rapidly, resulting in premature osteoporosis. Adolescents who frequently consume soft drinks are at increased risk of bone fractures than those who do not.

There is strong evidence that consumption of sugary drinks is associated with weight gain and obesity. In fact, the relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers[18] calculate that for each additional soda consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times. Recent 25-week high quality study in adolescents found further evidence linking soft drinks intake to body weight[19].

American researchers[20] from Yale University analysed 88 studies which assessed the link between soft drinks and the associated risk of weight gain, poor nutrition and diabetes. Their report found sufficient evidence to point to a clear and consistent link between soft drink consumption (both diet and non-diet) and increased calorie intake and body weight. According to the researchers, nearly all of the studies reviewed showed evidence that calorie intake rises when soft drink consumption increases.

There is evidence that consumption of too many soft drinks puts you under increased risk for liver cirrhosis similar to what chronic alcoholics have[21].

The soft drinks industry is the biggest user of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin. They contain virtually no calories (compared with 16 calories per teaspoon of sugar) and are widely used in diet soda. They are also much cheaper than sugar.

Preservatives are added into soft drinks to prevent spoilage, and to prolong shelf life. Storage conditions and time can affect the taste and flavor, and these preservatives help to preserve that.

Artificial flavorings are also commonly used in making soft drinks to give each flavor its distinctive taste. These have adverse effect on hyperactive children and must be eliminated from their diet.

Most soft drinks contain some inorganic sodium. Sodium is used as an emulsifying, stabilizing and thickening agent to ensure that the contents of the drinks are kept evenly distributed.

4 Doughnuts

Doughnuts are tasty and appetizing but they have no nutritional value. Most are loaded with trans fats or damaged fats due to deep frying. High consumption of trans fat is a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD)[27]. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fats you eat to less than 1% of your total daily calories. This means that if you need 2,000 calories a day, no more than 20 of those calories should come from trans fats. And that's less than 2 grams of trans fats a day. Given the amount of naturally occurring trans fats you probably eat every day, this leaves virtually no room for industrially manufactured trans fats.

5 Hot dogs

High contents of calories, fat and nitrates make hot dog a very unhealthy choice. Hot dogs have little nutritional benefit and also may be called "empty calories". Regular dogs contain 13 or more grams of fat per serving and don't provide much protein.

Hot dogs meat may contain mutagenic heterocyclic amines, some of which are proven carcinogens. These compounds are formed during the cooking of meat[22]. The team of chemists from the University of Nebraska Medical Center[23] found that DNA-mutating compounds occurred in hot dogs when examples from those bought in the supermarket were mixed with nitrites. These then doubled, tripled and quadrupled when Salmonella bacteria was added to the mix.

To increase shelf life and preserve flavor, processed foods tend to contain trans fats (hydrogenated fats). Hydrogenated fats take longer time to go rancid due to their stability. Food industry creates trans fats so that regular products that are naturally greasy and oily will not appear to be that way when bought by the consumer. A review by the Harvard School of Public Health[24] notes that trans fats have twice the undesirable effects of saturated fats. Trans fatty acids, according to the Harvard School review, cause between 30,000 and 100,000 premature deaths a year from coronary heart disease.

There is clear evidence that frequent consumption of processed meats like hot dogs and sausages is associated with an increased risk of diabetes[25].

Hot dogs are also prone to carry the bacteria called listeria that causes foodborne illness[26].

And don't forget the sodium. High salt content will promote water retention. Sodium nitrite (or sodium nitrate) is used as a preservative, coloring and flavoring in hot dogs (and other processed meats).

6 Bacon

Fat, fat, and more fat! It's not really a meat. Fried bacon can drastically increase the level of cholesterol. It's also high in salt and full of both nitrites and nitrates.

Recent US study[28] has linked eating cured meat like bacon and hot dogs with increased risk of lung disease. Nitrites are added to cured meat as preservative, color or as anti-bacterial agents. They are thought to generate reactive nitrogen species in the body, molecules that cause structural damage to lung tissue, in a similar way to emphysema.

Frequent consumption of red meat, especially bacon and hot dogs, may increase the risk of developing diabetes[29].

7 Chips

Corn chips, potato chips, tortilla chips have literally no nutritional benefits. Almost all brands contain harmful levels of sodium and fat.

Fried potato products such as french fries and chips may contain substantial amounts of carcinogenic substances like acrylamide. High temperatures used to cook them will potentially cause the formation of acrylamide, and this risk remains even if the trans fat is removed[30].

According to some studies, in foods like french fries and potato chips, acrylamide is present in the amount of about 300 times more than the "safe" limits recommended by WHO (World Health Organization). However, acrylamide content does not appear in the dietary nutritional information that goes with the packaging.

The content of acrylamide (micrograms per serving) in some commercial items (accorging to the data from Center for Science in Public Interest)

Item Micrograms per serving
Tostitos Tortilla Chips (1 oz.)
Honey Nut Cheerios (1 oz.)
Cheerios (1 oz.)
Lay's potato chips (1 oz.)
Fritos Corn Chips (1 oz.)
Pringles (1 oz.)
Baked Lay's (1 oz.)
KFC Potato Wedges (6.2 oz.)

Chips contain large amount of added trans fat (hidrogenated oils). Shortenings, containing hidrogenated oils, are added to provide crispy texture. Trans fats also increase shelf life. Even "reduced fat" brands can still have trans fat.

Trans fats act like saturated fats in the body and tend to increase blood cholesterol levels and are linked to heart disease. Besides heart disease, trans fat is a culprit in other ailments from diabetes to dementia[31]. Chips containing olestra can be even more dangerous to your health than regular chips.

8 Cakes and cookies

Many cakes and cookies combine all three "whites" together: white sugar, flour, and fat. Also, these foods frequently contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, texturizing and processing agents, and other additives that further detract from their nutritional stature and your health.

Cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, and bread are the major food sources of trans fat for American adults.

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