If you’re trying to eat healthy, the supermarket can be a very dangerous place. Temptation literally lurks around every corner and in every aisle, none more so than the snack food aisle. And out of all the items in that aisle, these eight types of products are unhealthier than all the rest.
First things first: If you want to eat junk food, a little bit isn’t going to kill you. Everything in moderation. Second things second: These foods are engineered to appeal to your taste buds and brain on an extrasensory level, but their level of unhealthiness extends far beyond the fat and calorie count on the nutrition label. An ounce of almonds contains more fat and calories than an ounce of potato chips, after all, but nobody’s telling you that chips are healthier than almonds. Foods aren’t unhealthy because of calories. They’re unhealthy because of the source of those calories, as well as the amount of sugar and/or sodium that they contain.
If you want to find clues about the relative nutritional value of any product, your best bet is to check out the ingredients listing along with the nutrition label. As a rule of thumb, the fewer ingredients, the better. If you see the word “hydrogenated,” this indicates the presence of trans fats, quite possibly the worst type of fat you can consume; they raise your bad cholesterol (LDL), lower your good cholesterol (HDL), and increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Even if the label says zero trans fats, that’s only because companies are allowed to round down from less than .5 grams. Also be on the lookout for high fructose corn syrup, a cheap sugar substitute that usually coincides with high sugar content; monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is usually responsible for not being able to “eat just one” and also usually coincides with high sodium content; and artificial colors and flavors. Excessive sodium intake leads to high blood pressure and other ailments, and excessive sugar contributes to weight gain and increases your risk of heart attack.
The whole point of eating food is to get some nutrition, right? We hate to break it to you, but none of the following foods will provide you with any actual nutrition. There are plenty of healthy, natural options readily available at the supermarket, and while they may not provide you with that exact same sugary kick or irresistible cheesy crunch, your body will thank you.