This time of year, as we enjoy the mountains of cookies and homemade pies already our thoughts are turning to New Year’s resolutions and how we promise to eat healthier in the coming months. Sometimes eating healthy goes beyond just picking food that is low-fat and nutritious, it’s also important to keep in mind how your food is produced and processed to avoid exposing yourself to potentially dangerous toxins and chemicals. Here are 5 foods that you should definitely add to your “naughty list” this year.
Farm Raised Salmon
Salmon is often touted as a super food and with its high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and B12 it can be a great addition to your diet; as long as it’s not of the farm raised variety. Farmed salmon are often kept in filthy pens and are fed an unnatural diet they are also exposed to high doses of antibiotics and pesticides. Eating farmed salmon can expose you too PCBs, carcinogens and DDT so to be on the safe side consume only wild-caught Alaskan salmon to get all of the health benefits with none of the contaminants.
Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene and antioxidants and make a great addition to salads and pastas but next time you are making a homemade sauce rethink buying tomatoes in a can. The linings of the tin cans used for food storage contain a chemical called bisphenol-A which has been linked to numerous health concerns including diabetes, heart disease and reproductive issues. The high acidity level of tomatoes makes the chemicals leach into your food even faster so this is one product best left on the shelf. Instead look for brands that sell tomatoes in jars or better yet start with the fresh thing.
The bags that microwave popcorn come in contain harmful chemicals that have been linked to infertility as well as several types of cancer. Microwaving these bags allows all those chemicals to vaporize and coat the popcorn you are about to eat. These dangerous chemicals are going to be phased out by 2015 but in the meantime stick to making popcorn the old-fashioned way, many retailers still sell air-poppers or you can cook popcorn kernels in a skillet on the stove.
Apples are sprayed with more pesticides than almost any other fruit or vegetable and while those who use these sprays claim they are not harmful it is best to minimize exposure whenever possible. Apples are a good source of vitamin-C and dietary fiber and are great for both baking and snacking just be sure to stick with ones that are organically grown.
Cows are meant to graze on grass not corn or soy products. Because of this, the nutritional content of corn-fed beef is significantly lower than that of grass-fed beef. While corn fattens up cattle faster it also produces beef that is lower in omega-3s, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and potassium and higher in saturated fat. The next time you are at your local farmer’s market or specialty store look for packages labeled grass-fed, you might pay a little more but the better nutrition and better taste makes it worth the added cost.