January 1, 2010

A Healthier New Year by Avoiding These 7 Foods

I am always on the lookout for lists of the most toxic foods to avoid.  I recently read an article on Mercola.com, my favorite natural health website, outlining the seven worst foods you can eat.  The foods listed below are all tainted in some way by the chemicals of our modern world that are invisible to us when going about our daily lives.  What better time than the New Year to resolve to keep these foods out of your family's diet.  Keep this list on your refrigerator to remind you when planning meals and shopping lists.  Vote against toxic food by using your food dollars to purchase local, organic, sustainable, healthy choices!

1.  Canned Tomatoes - The plastic lining of the can contains the chemical bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen which has been linked to health issues from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.  Most cans are lined with this chemical but the acidity of tomatoes causes the BPA to leach into your food.  Look for tomatoes packed in glass.  Bionaturae.com is a brand found in many health food stores.  Consider putting a group together and placing a bulk order for a reduced or wholesale rate.

2.  Corn-Fed Beef - Anytime an animal is fed a food that its body is not designed to digest there will be health problems both for the animal and those who ingest it (see #5).  Cattle are herbivores designed to eat grass, hence the seven stomachs.  Corn and soybeans are standard fare for cattle as it fattens them up quickly yet the grain is usually laden with pesticides and makes for a very unhealthy meat compared to grass-fed beef.  Grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

3.  Microwave Popcorn - The microwave bag is lined with chemicals that may be linked to infertility in humans and have been shown to cause liver, testicular and pancreatic cancer in animals.  The microwaving causes the chemicals to become a vapor which is absorbed by the popcorn.  Once ingested these chemicals stay in your body and accumulate over time.  Pop your own popcorn in a cast-iron skillet.  It's great entertainment for the kids especially if you use a splatter screen - they can watch it popping!  Then warm up some butter/olive oil/coconut oil and honey/maple syrup or parmesan to toss it in.  Organic popcorn is a great alternative to chips and snack foods and saves a lot of money on your grocery bill.

4.  Non-Organic Potatoes - Root vegetables absorb the herbicides, fungicides and pesticides in the soil.  Potatoes are sprayed with fungicides during the growing season then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting.  After being dug up they are treated again with chemicals to prevent them from sprouting.  OUCH!  Buy organic potatoes only because washing cannot remove the chemicals that are inside the potato.

5.  Farmed Salmon - Another example of how feeding an animal something that it is not designed to eat will wreak havoc.  Salmon are not designed to live in pens and consume soy, poultry litter and hydrolyzed chicken feathers.  Farmed salmon are high in contaminants including carcinogens and pesticides.  They are also treated with antibiotics.  When you eat farmed fish you ingest the same drugs and chemicals as the fish.  Eat wild-caught Alaska salmon ONLY.

6.  Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones - You have seen dairy product containers with labels indicating that their cows are not treated with growth hormones rBGH or rBST to boost milk production.  Milk from cows treated with this hormone produce milk high in white blood cells (ie.: pus) and a hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which may contribute to breast, prostate and colon cancers.  There is a lot more to say about pasteurized, homogenized milk that I will save for another time (mainly that it is a highly processed food that is very difficult for our bodies to break down and digest causing multiple health problems).  The take-home here is to buy milk products that say rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk.

7.   Conventially Grown Apples - Apples are the most pesticide-doused fruit.  Studies are linking a higher body burden of pesticides with cancer and Parkinson's disease.  Buy organic apples only.