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Popular Foods Proven to Cause Lasting Damage to Your Body, Says Science

Many of the foods that you eat on a daily basis could be doing your body irreparable harm.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Even if you count every calorie and know your ideal macros by heart, chances are that a few less-than-healthy foods sneak into your diet from time to time. However, it's not just those occasional cheat meals that could be causing you serious harm in the long run.

Some of the foods you eat every day—many of which you likely consider relatively innocuous—could be doing irreparable damage to your body. Read on to discover which popular foods you're better off ditching for good if you want your health to be a top priority. And if you want to turn your diet around in no time, start with The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

1

Processed Meats

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While a slice of deli meat here or a sausage link there may not seem like terrible additions to your diet, experts say otherwise.

"Bacon, sausage, and other processed meats, such as salami and bologna, are now deemed Class 1 carcinogens," says internist Dana Simpler, MD, of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. "It is estimated that 50,000 people die each year worldwide due to cancers caused by red meat and processed meats."

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2

High-Sugar Snacks

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If you're having dessert every night or a sugary treat to get you through the day, you could be doing serious damage to your health.

"With these foods, the brain simply gets too much energy too quickly, forcing the body to work overtime and stressing and overwhelming it at the cellular level," explain neurologists Dean Sherzai, MD, PhD, and Ayesha Sherzai, MD, authors of the upcoming book The 30 Day Alzheimer's Solution.

That's not the only type of damage these foods can do, however. "When there is too much sugar, the cells become resistant to the insulin, leading to insulin resistance—a condition that severely impairs cells taking up sugar," say the Sherzais. This can not only be a precursor to diabetes, but it may eventually cause damage to the arteries leading to the brain, they explain. And if you want to keep yourself healthy, try these 20 Ways to End Sugar Cravings For Good, According to Nutritionists.

3

Microwave Meals

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The nutrition label may claim that microwave meal is healthy, but if you're heating it in a plastic tray, you could be setting yourself up for major damage to your body down the line.

"No matter how healthy the food is, if you microwave it in plastic, the chemicals in the plastic—like BPA—will release into the food," says Alicia Galvin, RD, the resident dietitian at Sovereign Laboratories. "Even if the label says it is microwave safe, this just means the container will not melt, not that it is safe to microwave."

In fact, a 2015 review of research published in the journal Medicine (Baltimore) found that BPA can trigger the growth of both breast and prostate cancer cells. And for more incentive to ditch those heat-and-eat meals for good, check out the Dangerous Side Effects of Eating Microwaved Meals, According to Science.

4

Potato Chips

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Carb-heavy and deep-fried, it likely comes as little surprise that potato chips aren't exactly a health food, but the extent to which this popular food may damage your body just might surprise you.

"They add a large amount of inflammatory carbs to your diet, along with fat and sodium," explains nutritionist Lisa Richards, author of The Candida Diet.

Not only can their high saturated fat and sodium content contribute to heart health issues, but regular potato chip consumption may also have you packing on the pounds. According to an investigation published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011, potato chips were the food most likely to be associated with weight gain among study subjects. And if you're ready to switch up your snacking habits, definitely avoid these 15 Chips to Always Leave on Grocery Store Shelves.

5

White Bread

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It's not just noticeably salty foods that can cause your blood pressure to spike—white bread can do the same.

While most experts point out that white bread is high in sugar and carbs, what many people don't realize is that this food is also high in sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure.

In fact, a 2018 study published in the journal Nutrients found that individuals who ate one or more pieces of white bread a week had a 39 percent increased risk of developing elevated blood pressure as compared to those who ate white bread three times a month or less. Not sure how your favorite slice of bread stacks up? Check out the 20 Best & Worst Store-Bought Breads For Every Health Goal.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more