Some Foods to Avoid

Microwave Popcorn
A longtime movie staple, the problem here doesn’t originate with the popcorn but with the bag. Chemicals embedded in the lining, like perfluorooctanoic acid, which is linked to infertility, latch on to the popcorn and then you. Environmental Working Group senior scientist Olga Naidenko said that this chemical and other compounds ”stay in your body for years and accumulate there.”

The chemicals have been known to cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer in lab animals, and researchers fear high levels of consumption by humans may yield the same result.

Stick Margarine
Stick margarine differs from tub margarine because it normally has more trans fat. Mayo Clinic nutritionist Jennifer K. Nelson says this is a problem because it increases the risk of heart disease, raises blood cholesterol levels, and manages to lower good cholesterol, too. Registered dietitian Kari Hartel adds a greater risk of stroke and Type 2 diabetes to the list of health problems associated with margarine.

Salad Dressing
Both fat-free and regular salad dressings can irk those in the food industry. Dressings, especially the low-fat kind, will often also contain high-fructose corn syrup, the same ingredient decried in sodas.

In 2010, researchers at Princeton found that consuming high fructose corn syrup may cause weight gain at a higher rate than table sugar and that it increases the amount of fat bodies will store.

Granola and energy bars
Register dietitian Sari Greaves says most products in this market ”are nothing more than glorified candy bars”; they “can be packed with enriched white flour, high fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners.” Plus, since people often eat them in addition to a meal instead of a replacement, these bars can pack several hundred additional calories onto a person’s diet per day, in addition to a host of unusual chemicals.

Non-organic apples
Apples are not processed in the same way the foods above are, but they still contain plenty of chemicals to make you think twice about this fruit — or perhaps want to take a power washer to it. Apples consistently top the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, meaning they test the highest for rates of residual pesticides like Paraquat, used under the brand names Gramoxone by Syngenta. It is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the world, even though Paraquat poisoning poses serious health risks — whether ingested or inhaled — including liver, kidney, and heart failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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