Determining the 25 worst foods you can eat is not a simple task. In order to identify which foods are the worst of the worst, there needs to be some parameters —a method to the madness, if you will. Though nutritional research is always vulnerable to a degree of subjectivity, there is still consensus among the scientific community on a handful of connections between the food we eat and its effect on our health. These pillars of academic agreement will serve as the foundation of this list.
Sugars, calories, saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and heavily processed meats and snacks have all been cited by a majority of dietitians, doctors, and scientists as the source of many public-health-related issues. Saturated and trans fats have been linked to cardiovascular disease, processed meats have been found to contain known carcinogens when cooked at high temperatures, excessive calorie intake is directly related to weight gain, and too much sugar can lead to diabetes and insulin resistance.
To make matters worse, the food industry has developed many ways to mask or disguise food’s unhealthy nature. They’ve tried manipulating serving sizes, swapping in different oils and fats, and incorporating zero-calorie sweeteners, all to trick the customer into thinking their food is not the worst. For example, an 8-ounce bag of cheese puffs technically contains eight servings, but the food industry takes advantage of an effect known as “vanishing caloric density,” in which foods that quickly melt in the mouth are not recognized as calories by the brain. If the brain doesn’t recognize that the body is consuming calories, then it won’t signal the body to stop eating.
Another food industry secret is the “bliss point,” a term used by food scientists to describe the perfect ratio of salty, sweet, and fat that keeps consumers going in for bite after bite. For a perfect example, just think about that perfectly crispy and salty French fry, dipped into just the right amount of sweet and tangy ketchup. And before you know it, the fries are gone. Therefore, the list of the 25 worst foods is not entirely based solely on their nutritional content — it also incorporates our susceptibility to overeating.
Here are the 25 worst foods you can eat and why.