Life style

11 foods that can negatively impact your health

The more we learn about nutrition, the more researchers are finding that many of the processes we use to make food delicious and durable strip food of its nutrients.

While occasional consumption of highly processed foods can be offset by a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein, certain food preparations just don’t bring much nutrition to the table.

When the following foods make up the majority of your diet (or you don’t also benefit from low-oil, high-fiber foods), they are associated with negative health outcomes.

11 foods that can negatively affect your health

While the following foods are notably lacking in nutritional value, paying attention to this list is less about eliminating each element entirely and more about realizing how little they contribute to your diet. We don’t recommend you avoid these foods entirely, as food restriction can potentially trigger them disturbed eating. The key takeaway here is that it’s okay to eat the foods on this list, as long as you’re also eating nutrient-dense foods that provide you with the vitamins and minerals you need.

Many of the following foods contain highly refined grains, large amounts of trans fats, or other processed fats that are difficult for the body to use effectively. Food sources are simply lacking in many of the key nutrients like fiber that promote gut health. Over time, depriving your body of the many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients found in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can lead to deficiencies that have medical symptoms.

White bread

White bread is made from a type of bread flour processed from wheat. Processing removes the bran and germ: parts of the wheat grain. Whole wheat is generally darker and denser because it contains more nutrients and more fiber. Both of these aspects are good for your digestion and give your body the nutrients it needs. White bread has a nice light flavor but is made up of only the endosperm layer of a grain of wheat and contains less nutritional value. Instead, opt for whole grain breads that are loaded with essential nutrients.

To learn more about how complex carbohydrates help you stay healthy, read here why you should eat more carbs, not less.

Potato Chips

A lot of the reasons eating too many chips can be harmful is because they don’t provide any balanced source of calories. The amount of oil and simple carbohydrates they contain makes them high in calories, but they are not correspondingly high in beneficial nutrients like vitamins. Chips, which contain no preservatives, are a great option for an occasional delicious treat, but eating only chips in a meal will leave your body wanting more vitamins, protein, and fiber.

French fries

French fries contain many of the same nutrients as french fries, although there are more real potatoes in french fries. However, the crispiness of a french fry does not have to be due to the frying, which contains a lot of oil if eaten frequently. In an air fryer, a thin film of oil (or even no oil at all) can still get you a homemade, low-salt batch of fries that are basically just made with potatoes. If you already have enough oil in your diet, this could be a great way to get a crunchy treat without exceeding your daily value.

Fried chicken

Chicken is a delicious lean protein, but the breading on fried chicken usually has a ton of white flour, oil, and salt. Of course, these three ingredients are fine in moderation, but opting for grilled chicken or air fried chicken could help you cut back on unhealthy ingredients if you’re already eating more than the recommended amount.

Processed Meat

In general, processed meat is low in nutrients that have been linked to negative medical consequences when consumed in excess. Processing of meat sometimes involves the addition of nitrates and nitrites, which have been linked to a higher risk of cancer when consumed in moderation. Also, sodium is incorporated into processed meats in fairly significant amounts. If possible, cook and eat fresh meat.

Sugary Cereals

Like eating candy, sugary cereal is often high in simple carbohydrates and sugars compared to lower levels of protein, fiber, and vitamins. As a breakfast option, sugary cereals can also cause a blood sugar crash, making you hungry shortly after consuming the cereal. Choosing granola with less sugar that’s higher in protein and fiber, along with a plant-based milk or milk can help you feel fuller and more energetic for longer.


People turned to margarine when the saturated fats in butter were thought to be bad for our health. However, margarine is different: in some countries, they contain harmful trans fats that aren’t easily processed by the body, and in many cases they contain a similar amount of processed saturated fat. Read the label, or opt for a less-processed oil like olive oil as a spread if you really want to eliminate butter from your diet.

Frozen appetizers

Not all frozen appetizers are created equal — flash frozen vegetables and cooked chicken, for example, are sometimes low in preservatives and are a great way to eat when you need ready meals. However, with prepackaged meals, be sure to check what types of foods and other items are included in your meal, especially if you’re concerned about preservatives or colorings in your diet.

Packaged mac and cheese

While some of the best-known brands of macaroni and cheese are high in harmful chemicals, a big reason they are considered unhealthy is that they are high in simple carbohydrates and fats and low in nutritional value. If you love the cheesy noodles, don’t despair: there are now a variety of versions that contain either whole grains, veggies like cauliflower, and fewer preservatives and fats.

Bakery products

Cakes, donuts, and other baked goods can be delicious. Unfortunately, they can get loaded with simple carbohydrates and saturated fats. They’re also very low in fiber, protein, or vitamins. However, when you make your own baked goods, it’s easy to make a treat that’s more nutritious, whether it’s substituting in some whole wheat flour, substituting an unsaturated fat for butter, or adding fruit or grated zucchini to boost the vitamin content .

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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