Our bodies are designed to thrive on a variety of whole foods, so the more processed our meals, the less healthy they become. Additives, preservatives, and more salt and sugar than is ever found in nature all work together to put an incredible strain on the body. And the harder our bodies have to work to digest meals, the more stressed and fatigued they become, upping the chance for cancer to gain a foothold.
Even worse, products that are specifically marketed as healthy can be anything but, and certain preparation practices done in our own kitchen may also be increasing cancer risk. Following are 16 foods that may be causing cancer for any of these reasons.
The main danger in soda is the sugar, usually in form of high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is the most challenging form of sugar for your body to handle. With more than a full day’s worth of sugar in one can, it sends your blood sugar through the roof and yet doesn’t make you feel full, potentially leading to overeating later.
Colas also contain caramel color, which sounds innocent but is actually an artificial coloring that has the carcinogenic chemical 4-MEI as a byproduct.
Instead – Sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice is a good alternative.
#2: Grilled red meat
Experts recommend limiting your intake of fatty red meat to just a couple of servings per week to reduce your cancer risk. When you do indulge, you may want to avoid those char marks, as tasty as they are.
Food cooked to a high temperature produces acrylamide, a known carcinogen. And meat cooked on the grill, unless it’s electric, also takes on unhealthy stuff from the charcoal or wood.
Instead – Reduce your overall intake of red meat, choose organic, grass fed beef, and be careful not to overcook it.
#3: Microwave popcorn
Popcorn is a healthy snack in general, but prepared in a microwave bag, it becomes a cancer-causing nightmare. First, the “butter” flavoring often contains diacetyl (or a close cousin) that is known to be toxic. The bags themselves are lined with a chemical called PFOA, which studies show is carcinogenic.
And lastly, popcorn growers are not required to report whether or not their kernels are GMO, but they most likely are – more than 93% of corn planted in the US alone is genetically modified.
Instead – Buy organic kernels and pop them in an air popper or on your stove. Olive oil and a combination of your favorite dried herbs is a great healthy topping.
#4: Canned food, especially tomatoes
Canned vegetables tend to be jam packed with added salt as part of the preservative process, and fruits are often canned in straight sugar syrup. That is problematic in itself, but even worse is the fact that the cans are lined with a chemical called BPA. A known hormone disrupter that has been linked to cancer, BPA leaches into the food that comes in contact with it.
The effect is amplified with foods that are naturally acidic, so tomatoes are especially risky to eat from a can.
Instead – Eat fresh or frozen produce, or at least look for cans that are low-sodium and labeled BPA-free.
#5: Hydrogenated oils
Oils that cannot be extracted from their source naturally become hydrogenated by the chemical processing required. Vegetable oils, for example, are not just chemically extracted, they are also colored and then have their natural scent removed.
The end product looks nice, but is full of unhealthy omega-6 fats. Unfortunately most commercial baked goods use hydrogenated oils, not to mention fried snack foods.
Instead – Choose naturally extracted olive, soy, or canola oil for home cooking, and avoid store bought cakes and cookies.