The Ten Worst Snack Foods
Enter any convenience store in the United States and you’ll quickly spot an array of wrapped and bottled items masquerading as food.
And these junky snack foods are becoming more horrible every year. And while there are hundreds I could rail against, 10 are particularly offensive. I call them the “worst snack foods of all time.”
But be forewarned: This list could become outdated the minute the food industry introduces yet another must-have concoction that adds pounds to your waistline while stealing your health.
1. French Fries
Who among us hasn’t been lured in by French fries, or even more specifically, by McDonald’s French fries? We seem to play ostrich and stick our heads in the sand though when it comes to the lack of any redeeming qualities about French fries.
These golden sticks are nothing more than starchy white potatoes cooked in hot fat and flavored with chemicals, salt, and sugar. Yep, sugar. On potatoes. And don’t forget the chemicals.
In the case of McDonald’s, their French fries’ ingredients include: potatoes, vegetable oil (in the fries…in addition to what they are cooked in!), citric acid, dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and salt. And don’t forget the dimethylpolysiloxane, which is added as an anti-foaming agent. Yum!
Quite possibly the worst snack food on the planet.
Remember when we used to spell donuts “doughnuts?” Now that was truth in advertising. After all, donuts are nothing more than sugary fried bread.
Yep, take some good, old, nutrition-free bleached white dough, add a crap load of sugar, and deep fry it. And, if you want to get really inventive and up the stroke factor, squirt in a sugary, creamy or jelly filling and top with glaze or powdered sugar.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, add a sugary cream filling and a glaze of more sugar on top. Any questions?
3. Chips (Potato or Corn)
These are really just a packaged version of French fries. Maybe with fewer ingredients, depending on the brand you buy.
However, you can do damage control on this one by switching to baked blue corn chips, available in most health food stores or organic grocery stores. While it’s still not real food, it beats the 7-Eleven version. Just keep in mind that corn chips, like potato chips, are still salty and starchy…not a great combo for your waistline or your health, so take it easy.
Whether we discuss the caffeine, the sugar, the high fructose corn syrup, the carbonation, the caramel coloring, or the addictive traits, there is absolutely nothing good coming out of these bottles and cans.
There’s absolutely no redeeming health value of any kind…just a whole lot of chemicals.
And, yes, this does include the diet kind. All the same issues, but now throw in those harmful artificial sweeteners. Plus, the rumor that diet soda can stall weight loss just might be true.
5. Cupcakes and Snack Cakes
You won’t be “Little Debbie” for very long eating this crap. Regardless of brand, you’re looking at a bit of flour, a ton of sugar, some chemicals, and maybe a flavoring or two.
As for that creamy filling? You’ve gotta be kidding. To say its fake whipped cream is an understatement. Be a real Hostess and skip the trip down this aisle.
6. Candy Bars
Where do I even start? About the only possible redeeming factor about some candy bars are the gram or two of protein from the nuts…and most don’t even offer this sad attempt at decency.
And, by the way, those “energy” or “protein” bars? Candy bars with fancy labeling and a bit of enhancement. Sure, they often have 1/3 fewer calories, quite a bit more protein, and a bit less fat, but don’t get it twisted. They’re still a far cry from real food.
7. Pork Rinds
Where do I start with this preferred and often-recommended snack of the low-carb crowd? When you head to the label, the plain variety has just two ingredients: pork rinds and salt. But what are pork rinds?
You know how the tough outer layer or peel of an orange or lemon is called the rind? Ah, yea. No difference. Pork rinds are the tough, outer skin layer of pigs.
And, as if that weren’t awful enough, these rinds are coated with salt and put in a dehydrator for hours. They are then cut into little pellets.
Not disgusted yet? Keep reading.
These pellets are dropped into vats of cooking oil for about 60 seconds. And voila! You have puffy, Styrofoam-like snacks.
So, basically we’re talking about deep-fried pork skin. Not a good thing!
8. Fat-Free Cookies
Don’t be thrown off by the “fat-free” part. Forget that most fat-free anything replaces the fat with sugar…these are still cookies! They’re just sneaking around trying to pretend to be healthy.
Remember, fat-free doesn’t equal calorie free, or sugar-free for that matter. So “snack well” and just say no.
Let’s see…you have your enriched flour, salt, and trans-fats. Lots and lots of trans-fats in fact. Most top cracker brands are loaded with ’em.
So be sure to read your labels carefully to find the few that aren’t. You’ll want to look for things like hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil.
One way to avoid the trans-fat trap is to choose organic…and whole grain while you’re at it.
Surprise, surprise. Just because something doesn’t have fat doesn’t make it good. This twisted mess of white flour, water, sugar, and salt is junk food in disguise. Fuggedaboutit.
Runner Up: Coffee Drinks
Creamy, carmelly, coconutty coffee mocha-latté-frappé drinks are taking over the universe…and our waistlines! Yet we seem to think that the calories we drink don’t count. They do…just ask your scale.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my Starbucks too, but even a grande (16 ounce) basic vanilla Frappaccino has 410 calories, 16 grams of fat, 62 grams of sugar, and 95 milligrams of caffeine.
Oh, and one gram of fiber…hurrah.
Whole is the Way to Go…
At the end of the day, there are no short cuts when it comes to health. If it comes in a bag, box, or wrapper, it’s likely not going to pass the health test. Ditto for anything you can pick up at the drive-through and with whipped topping.
Stick to whole, real foods and you’ll be a whole lot healthier…and happier and skinnier to boot!
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
Also known as “The Rogue Nutritionist,” Bowden is a board-certified nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology; the best-selling author of twelve books including Unleash Your Thin,The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Living L...[ read more ]
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