HealthBeat News

The Ten Most Dangerous Foods: Part I

There are some foods that are unhealthy for various reasons, and then there are foods that are SO unhealthy that they shouldn’t even be considered edible. Here are some of the major criteria I used in accessing the most dangerous foods: 1.) Omega Ratios (ratio of “Omega-6” to “Omega-3” Essential Fatty Acids). Remember that a desirable Omega Ratio is anything under 10. Ten to 15 is OK if consumed on occasion and things higher than 15 should be eaten only rarely if at all. 2.) “Trans” fats: these are the “Frankenstein’s” of the fat family. Even small amounts can cause serious abnormalities at the cellular level. The proof is so overwhelming that the government has mandated all food labels to start carrying information about the “trans” fat content beginning this year. 3.) Toxins: while it’s true that much if not most of our food supply contains at least some contaminants, certain foods are worse than others for the toxic compounds they contain. 4.) High simple sugars: as little as one teaspoon of sugar suppresses the immune system for 4 hours or more. And—surprise!—- even fruit sugar (fructose) has this effect.

These foods are on my “hit list” and represent my top ten picks for the most dangerous “pseudo-foods.” For every food that should best be avoided, I’ll tell you about a happy, healthy alternative that makes a great substitute.

1.) Potato chips and French Fries: with an Omega ratio of 63, America’s favorite snack foods pack a huge dose of Omega-6 fats, enough to seriously imbalance the body’s essential fatty acid ratio, even when consumed in small amounts. (Does anyone really eat “small amounts” of potato chips?). But that’s not the worst of it. Heating starches produces acrylamides – known neurotoxins and carcinogens capable of damaging DNA. The more you heat starches, the more acrylamides you end up with. Products like normal potato chips contain so much acrylamides that they exceed the World Health Organization’s daily allowances 2000-3000 thousand fold.

This news was downplayed in the USA. On CNN they said “It’s just one study,” “More research is needed,” (After all, let’s not go to extremes and start thinking we really need to tell people about dangerous chemicals in their food supply—- especially when these foods are Big Business).
Potato chips and French fries are the worst foods when it comes to acrylamides, with “foods” like cookies, bread and other starchy foods containing lesser, though still problematic amounts, of this carcinogenic, nervous-system toxic substance.

SUBSTITUTE: Fried pork rinds have an Omega Ratio of 12.9 and no acrylamides, making them a much healthier, still crisp-and-crunchy snack food for dipping and chipping.

2.) Peanuts: with an Omega ratio of 201, this “not really a nut” (it’s a legume) packs a huge dose of Omega-6 fats, again enough to seriously imbalance the body’s essential fatty acid ratio, even when consumed in small amounts. (Does anyone really eat “small amounts” of peanuts either?). But that’s not the worst of it. Peanuts tend to harbor a fungus called aflatoxin. Aflatoxins are potent carcinogenic and immunosuppressive agents. Exposure is difficult to avoid because fungal growth in foods is not easy to prevent. Though heavily contaminated food supplies are not permitted in the market place in developed countries, concern still remains for the possible adverse effects resulting from long-term exposure to low levels of aflatoxins in the food supply. In 1988, the IARC placed aflatoxin B1 on the list of human carcinogens. This is supported by a number of epidemiological studies done in Asia and Africa that have demonstrated a positive association between dietary aflatoxins and Liver Cell Cancer (LCC).

SUBSTITUTE: While true nuts do not tend to harbor aflatoxin like peanuts do, most have an Omega Ratio of 20-100+. The exception is English walnuts, an absolute health food with an Omega Ratio of 1.7.

3.) Crisco: (Crisco= Crystallized Cottonseed Oil). In 1907, candle-make William Proctor and his soap-making brother-in-law James Gamble (Proctor and Gamble), discovered a way to use cottonseed oil to make cheaper candles and soap (the beef tallow processors of the time were driving prices quite high). The process takes cotton seed oil, with an Omega Ratio of 257, and makes it into a solid by converting many of the Omega-6 fats to “trans” fats. This pseudo-food is beyond bad, and not fit for human consumption. Crisco should have remained where it started: as a raw material for making candles and soap.

SUBSTITUTE: Lard or butter. (Butter is a health food).

4.) Vegetable oils: Corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, ALL except those listed below. Their Omega Ratios are terrible —- from 80-120+. Nature didn’t intend for us to concentrate the oils from certain foods like corn and peanuts.

NOTE on Olive Oil: Although Olive Oil has an acceptable Omega Ratio (11.61), it contains a high Omega-9’s, fats which are non-essential and interfere with the body’s utilization of the “good fat,” Omega-3. Olive oil has a healthful reputation that far exceeds the reality of its worth. Use flax oil for salad dressings and such (Omega Ratio 2.18), and butter for low-heat frying (Omega Ratio 1.55).

SUBSTITUTE: For high-heat frying, use coconut oil or non-solvent processed canola oil. For low-heat frying (sautéing), use butter, ghee (clarified butter) or walnut oil. Use flax oil only for salad dressings and in baked goods; do not fry with it in order to preserve the Omega-3 fatty acids.

5.) Fruit Juice: Oh Gosh! And now you’re thinking I’m probably against the American flag and motherhood and apple pie…
Freshly made fruit juice contains high levels of vitamin C and enzymes. Processed juice, which has been pasteurized, loses all vitamin C and enzymes. The result? Fruit-sugar (fructose) water. If processed juice contains vitamin C or calcium, it is because these nutrients have been added back in “enriched.” But the levels are low compared to simple supplementation, and not worth the immune-suppressing effects of sugar.

SUBSTITUTE: Want fruit? Eat the “real deal” in its whole form and enjoy the enzymes, vitamins and fiber. Red Alert and Greens First provide the equivalent of 10+ servings of organic produce without the high sugars (and they taste great). If you need more vitamin C (remember, you get a hefty 1,200mg from your daily dose of Maxi Multi), then take an additional vitamin C supplement. If you drink cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections, take cranberry capsules instead. No sugar, but all the health benefits.

Next Issue: the “other five” deadly foods on “Myatt hit list”!