While junk foods and foods high in saturated fats, sodium and sugar are an obvious detriment to a healthy diet, other foods are less brazen in their harm.
There are some foods that may seem harmless to the masses, but nutrition experts won’t touch them. Differences in how an animal is fed before slaughter or how a food is packaged are small, but they matter. Let’s look at some foods that even the experts won’t eat.
Cattle fed with corn fatten up for slaughter faster than those animals raised eating grass. While corn-fed beef is cheaper, it also means it’s less nutritious. Cattle are meant to eat grass, which then makes their meat higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid, calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also makes the meat lower in inflammatory omega-6s and saturated fats than their grain-fed friends.
Wild Alaskan salmon is more expensive, but you’ll get more vitamin D, fewer contaminants and peace of mind that your dinner was raised in better conditions than fish farms. Even if you’re not a person who brakes for salmon, know this: Farmed salmon are fed food of different colors to give them a specific desired hue. Gross. Lose the color and lose the contaminants.
Robert Kenner, director of “Food Inc.” and founder of FixFood.org, says he can no longer eat non-organic strawberries after witnessing how they were sprayed with pesticides. When applying the chemicals to foods people consume, workers actually wear protective suits and masks. And we’re not just talking about one or two pesticides, but dozens and dozens or known dangerous ones.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, an organic compound used in making plastics and also lines the inside of cans, breaks down from the acidity found in canned tomatoes and therefore becomes part of the food. Canada declared BPA a “toxic substance” in 2010, and the Food and Drug Administration continues to study it.
Of course there are the obvious negatives, such as trans fats, but also the fumes — that intoxicating buttery hot popcorn smell — are harmful to our lungs. The buttery chemical diacetyl escapes once we crack open a bag, and has been linked to lung disease and respiratory health issues. We also need to look out for our dental health. Kernels get stuck everywhere and seeds can damage teeth.