Junk food consumption is a significant risk factor for developing cancer. Did you know that many so-called healthy foods can actually be carcinogens?
Are there any ingredients in packaged foods that pose a serious health threat?
Being informed consumers can make a difference in the products we buy, as well as improve our health.
Continue reading to learn about 17 foods that are known to increase cancer risk.
Sugar is cancer’s preferred fuel, and soda is often jammed with sugar. As a side effect, artificial coloring can contain the carcinogenic chemical 4-MEI. Lab tests have shown that 4-MEI is present in sodas with caramel coloring.
Alternatives Water is always the best choice, but if your taste buds are craving the sweetness of soda, you can choose a brand that doesn’t contain caramel color.
2. Grilled red meat
Although a steak with a good char may taste great, high temperatures used to cook it can cause cancer-causing hydrocarbons. Consuming too much red meat can increase your risk of developing cancer.
Alternatives Red meat should be eaten sparingly and cooked carefully. If possible, choose organic, grass-fed beef.
3. Microwave popcorn
This triple whammy is because the butter flavoring in many microwave popcorn brands can release diacetyl when it’s cooked. The perfluorooctanoic acids that line the bags are carcinogenic. Finally, popcorn producers do not have to disclose whether their kernels contain GMOs.
Alternatives: Buy organic kernels, and heat them up in an air-popper or on the stove.
4. Canned food, especially tomatoes
Canning foods can be dangerous as the cans contain the chemical BPA which is a known hormone disrupter. Canning tomatoes can be dangerous because of the BPA leaching into them from their acidity. The problem is not the tomatoes themselves, but the packaging.
Alternatives– Eating fresh or frozen produce
5. Hydrogenated oils
The chemical extraction of vegetable oils from their natural sources is not possible. Instead, they must be processed by a chemical process. To achieve the desired appearance and consistency, additional chemicals are added. This results in extremely high levels of unhealthy omega-6 fats.
Alternatives: Use olive, canola, or soy oil instead. These oils are naturally extracted.
6. Farmed salmon
Wild-caught salmon is considered one of the most nutritious proteins. However, farmed salmon is fed a unnatural diet high in chemicals, pesticides and antibiotics. They also store more harmful chemicals in their bodies than wild-caught salmon, which makes them fatter.
Alternatives: Eat wild-caught salmon, or supplement your diet with purified fish oil.
7. Artificial sweeteners
Most artificial sweeteners are made using chemical processes. It is not clear if artificial sweeteners are safe.
8. Refined white flour
All nutritional content from the original wheat is lost during refining. To make the flour look whiter, chlorine gas is used to bleach it. White flour is a carbohydrate which breaks down to simple sugar, the cancer’s preferred fuel.
Alternatives Choose whole wheat flour unbleached for your cooking and carefully read the labels to see how much white stuff is contained in packaged goods.
9. Non-organic fruits & vegetables
Although the fruits and vegetables themselves are very healthy, pesticides that are sprayed on them can cause serious health problems. Altrazine is an example of a weed killer that was banned in Europe because it causes severe health problems for humans. However, it is still widely used in the U.S.
Alternatives: Buy organic whenever possible and wash all produce thoroughly before you eat.
10. Processed meat
This includes bacon, hot dogs and sausages, as well as deli meats. Processing often adds large amounts of salt and dangerous chemicals, including nitrate or nitrite. These additives can make food look better and last longer but pose a serious risk to your health.
Alternatives: Eat fresh, organic meats and search for products that have minimal processing.
11. Potato chips
For many reasons, potato chips are a problem. They are made with trans fats and salt. Some varieties have artificial coloring and preservatives.
Alternatives Pretzels and air-popped popcorn, dried apples or banana chips.
12. GMO foods
GMO foods are a hot topic of debate. GMO foods are preferred by large food producers because they can resist pests better, make it easier to transport and last longer. Unfortunately, there was very little safety testing done before these foods were available on shelves. We also don’t know if they have any long-term health effects.
Alternatives Organic produce and meats; packaged food with a Non GMO label.
The National Cancer Institute has shown that alcohol consumption is linked to cancers of the head, neck, liver, breast and colon.
Alternatives If you’re not ready to give up alcohol, limit your alcohol intake to the low-risk category. This means that women should have no more than three drinks per sitting and men must have no more than four drinks per sitting. Men can consume no more than seven drinks per week, while women can have no more than seven drinks per sitting. Alternatives
14. Refined sugars
High fructose corn syrup is the worst culprit in this category, and it can be found in tons of processed foods and beverages. You can find as much as 15 teaspoons in a 20-ounce soda. We all know that cancer loves sugar.
Alternatives Always read the ingredients list before you buy packaged food. You will be surprised at the amount of sugar in the food. Whole fruit is better than candy for satisfying your sweet tooth.
Margarine was meant to be healthier than butter. But, as it turns, margarine is made of hydrogenated vegetable oils and full of trans fats. Recent research has shown that trans fats can be more harmful than butter’s saturated fats.
Alternatives You can still use butter but you should choose margarine over it. Olive oil flavored using herbs can also be used as a topping on bread and vegetables.
16. Diet foods
This is a great one! You may think you are making smart choices by buying “diet” foods. However, these foods often contain artificial sweeteners or sugar to replace the fat that was removed. You might also find various chemicals that will keep you coming back for more.
Alternatives: Eat whole, fresh foods and not packaged diet meals.
17. French fries
French fries are delicious, but they can be dangerously fried in trans fats and salted. Also, foods heated at such high temperatures produce acrylamide which is a known carcinogen.
Alternatives: Check out these recipes for baked fries. Using flavorful spices and olive oils, you can make a delicious side dish that is both healthier and more tasty.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the information available about food choices.
It is possible to simplify it all by following these simple guidelines. It is easy to make a big difference in your cancer risk by shifting your mealtime balance away from processed foods and skipping sodas.
Although life is busy, the kitchen can still be a time of peace and tranquility for all members of the family.