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The #1 Worst Food to Eat During the Pandemic

Keep your immune system strong by avoiding eating this tasty treat in excess.
ice cream

Aside from social distancing, the number one thing you should be prioritizing right now is supporting your immune system, because, at the end of the day, it's your body's first line of defense.

Humans have not encountered this type of coronavirus before, meaning our immune systems are not properly equipped to fight the infectious disease it causes (COVID-19) as they are for, say, influenza.

Dr. Lisa Kennedy, managing principal and chief economist at Innopiphany, who specializes in health economics and has a Ph.D. focused on respiratory infectious disease, told us early on in the pandemic that this strain of coronavirus was proving to put an inordinate amount of stress on the body.

"The virus not only tests immunity but how the body can react to stress," Dr. Kennedy said. "So some people who have had the misfortune of being critical cases have died of organ failure [or] heart attack."

One way you can support your immune system is by eating foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. With that being said, there are also several foods that tax your immune system, the worst of which may be sweet, delicious ice cream.

RELATED: What Eating an Entire Pint of Ice Cream Does to Your Body

Why ice cream, in particular, out of all the junk foods out there? There are two things in ice cream that can cause inflammation in the body, and when inflammation is high, "it taxes the immune system leaving us more susceptible to disease and illness," says Sydney Greene, MS, RD.

These two ingredients are dairy and sugar.

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"Processed foods, with their high sugar levels, omega-6 fatty acids, excess sodium, and junky additives can stoke the fire of inflammation," says Greene. And then, add to that the fact that dairy is also known to have an inflammatory effect on the body.

"Dairy products such as cheese and full-fat cow's milk contain saturated fat, which can increase inflammation," says Ashley Kitchens MPH, RD, LDN. "Saturated fat can also raise your bad cholesterol and put you at higher risk for heart disease."

For example, one pint of Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream clocks in at 1,400 calories, 54 grams of saturated fat (270 percent of your daily needs), and 79 grams of added sugar. For context, the American Heart Association recommends that women only consume a maximum of 25 grams of added sugar a day, and men, 36 grams a day, in order to promote good heart health.

Now that you have a better understanding of why ice cream may just be the worst food you could binge eat during the pandemic, check out The Unhealthiest Ice Cream Pints in America—Ranked!

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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