With individuals becoming more and more health conscious, talk of a number of different types of diets is on the rise. Do this and you will lose weight or do that and your diabetes will be controlled. In times like these, it’s easy to get swayed by marketing gimmicks. Hear the words healthy, diet, or weight loss, and we turn into a horse with blinders.
It’s necessary to discern for ourselves as to what is good for us and what isn’t. All it takes is being alert and being informed.
Foods That Seem Healthy But May Harm You
Here are some foods that are seemingly healthy, and may even actually be so, but can pose health risks under certain circumstances:
1. Diet Soda
As healthy as diet in “diet soda” may sound, it may not really be so. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Diet soda contains aspartame, a sugar substitute, that is way sweeter than regular sugar. So, only small amounts of it are present in a can. There seems to be an underlying suspicion that aspartame causes headaches and cancer, however, no definitive proof exists as of now.
Diet soda also doubles your risk of kidney problems, increases your risk of metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions causing heart disease and diabetes) by 34%, increases appetite and puts you at a risk of obesity, not to forget the erosion of your tooth enamel. What’s more, drinking more than 4 cans of diet soda a day can increase your chances of being clinically depressed by 30%. Still think it’s healthy?
Elderberries have shown to offer some relief to those suffering from the flu and can also serve as a natural diuretic and laxative. But you need to be careful about which fruits you choose.
Unripe and uncooked elderberries are considered toxic because of the presence of a toxic alkaloid compound. If you eat raw berries, you may suffer from diarrhea and vomiting. As long as you’re eating ripe or cooked elderberries, you’re good to go.
3. Rhubarb Leaves
Oxalic acid is a compound that can bind to calcium and other minerals in your body, making them less available for your body to use. This results in nutrient deficiencies. Oxalic-rich foods have been implicated in weak bones, kidney stones, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coma, and slow clotting of blood. Coming to the point, rhubarb leaves commonly added to salads, sauces, and desserts contain oxalic acid.
It has been estimated that you would have to eat an unreal quantity of 4.5 kg of rhubarb leaves to achieve a lethal dose, so you might not have to be too worried about this one.
It is always a good idea to supplement oxalic-rich foods like rhubarb leaves with minerals like calcium and potassium to prevent nutrient deficiencies.
4. Grilled And Smoked Meat
As appetizing as grilled or smoked meat may sound to some, it may not be all that good for your health. Yes, animal protein is what your body needs and deserves but your method of cooking may not work in your favor.
Fat dripping off meat while grilling can evaporate into toxic PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons) on touching hot cooking surfaces. The meat can absorb these compounds that find their way into your mouth and stomach. Smoked meat may be similarly contaminated.
PAHs are believed to be cancer-causing, particularly cancers of the digestive tract like colon cancer but also breast, prostate, and kidney cancers. Other lifestyle factors like smoking, however, definitely contribute as well.
5. Fish Like The King Mackerel And Swordfish
Because of the food chain, we may be regularly exposing ourselves to mercury without even knowing it. How? Plants growing in waters contaminated with mercury can imbibe the mercury. Mercury then crawls its way from these contaminated plants to small fish eating these plants to larger fish eating the small fish. Humans at the end of this chain are left vulnerable to this toxic element when they eat contaminated fish.
Mercury causes damage to the nervous system, even in a developing fetus. It also causes skin problems, impaired muscle coordination, hearing defects, and in serious cases, even death.
King mackerel, swordfish, bonito, halibut, shark, bluefin tuna, and marlin tend to be high in mercury and should be avoided.
6. Cassia Cinnamon
With Ayurveda and natural remedies gaining more and more popularity, and within good reason, you might be a little surprised to see cinnamon on this list. To make matters clear, cinnamon consumed in normal amounts is not harmful. Up to a teaspoon of cinnamon a day is considered safe.
That said, cinnamon contains a chemical called coumarin that has been associated with liver damage and cancer when consumed in excess. Cassia cinnamon, the variety of cinnamon obtained from China, carries more coumarin than the Sri Lankan variety.
So in the case of cinnamon, while there is no reason for immediate alarm, it is important to exert caution. Sometimes it’s easy to overeat cinnamon well-masked in pastries and pies.
Pay heed to what you eat so that you are not overly exposed to toxins in foods. As is the case with everything else, moderation is key.