Ask 10 people to name the two worst movies ever made and you'll probably get a lot of different answers. Ishtar? Waterworld? Showgirls? Hard to say.
Whether you're picking movies, books, or politicians, there are so many candidates for awfulness that it's hard to pick the top two.
But when it comes to food, the choice is easy.
French fries and soda.
Folks, if we took just those two "foods" out of our diet and nothing else, we'd be in a lot better shape than we are today. I'm not saying we'd all be cured of obesity, diabetes and heart disease and ready to compete in the Mr. or Ms. Olympia contest, but we'd be a heck of a lot better off than we are now, at least from the standpoint of health.
Most foods have in them some things that are good for you and some things that are not so good. One food might be high in calories and contain a few grams of sugar, it might also be high in lycopene or protein, so you sometimes have to do a little evaluation to decide whether to eat it. But with soda and French fries, no such calculus is necessary. Quite simply, there's nothing good for you in either of them.
Now with French Fries you might -- repeat, might -- be tempted to make a case that it's not the worst food in the world, and you'd have a point if only 1) you were using real, fresh, Idaho potatoes, 2) you were frying in real old-fashioned lard (yes, lard) and 3) you weren't using any other ingredients or flavorings. Then you could make a case that the potatoes aren't all bad, and that the oil isn't pro-inflammatory, and the resultant food isn't filled with carcinogens and trans fats.
But those are not the French fries most of us are eating.
Fast food French fries are potato-like "products." They're "seasoned" with flavorings, wheat, salt and sugar, all to make them "super-palatable" (i.e., addictive). They use low-grade frozen potatoes of unknown origin, which are then fried in high omega-6 (and pro-inflammatory) vegetable oil, which is then reused time and time (for about a week), increasing the likelihood that trans fats and carcinogenic compounds will form during the frying and make it onto your potato-like product, onto which you will now dump a ton of salt and consume in obscene, supersized amounts.
And soda doesn't have a single ingredient in it -- unless you count water -- that could possibly do a body any good. The diet ones are loaded with artificial sweeteners like aspartame (a reasonable case can be made that aspartame's a neurotoxin), and filled with chemicals and colorings of unpronounceable name and unknown origin. And the regular sodas are loaded with sugar (usually high-fructose corn syrup), so-called "added sugars" that constitute, at this writing, at least a quarter of our total calories (7 percent come from beverages like soda!).
Does it need saying that the only people who deny that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are mighty contributors to obesity and diabetes are the paid spokespeople from the enormously powerful sugar industry?
So yes, folks, for all the reasons we want to avoid high-calorie, high-glycemic foods of no nutritional value, we should drop French fries and sodas.
People like to point out how confusing nutrition advice is since so many experts seem to disagree vehemently with one another, and it can sometimes seem like we can't agree on anything.
Perhaps, for many things in nutrition, that's true.
But other than a paid spokesperson for the people who make them, you'll be hard-pressed to find any health professional who will defend French fries or sodas. Finally, there's one thing we all agree on.
Drop those two "foods" from your diet, and the guardian angels of your health and well-being will be sending you a heartfelt and passionate "thank you!"
For more by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, click here.
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