If you are a regular NAW reader, you know I don’t advocate for ‘diets’. If you are a first time reader, welcome and know that I will not tell you to follow this diet or the other. I am a big fan of having a healthful approach to eating and, of course, moderation. Let’s face it, most people believe they make healthy choices most of the time, but when I probe a little more, it’s a different story. Sometimes, because we deliberately forget that extra slice of cake and the lunch time doughnut, but more often, it is because of the “healthy” foods with bogus marketing schemes such green packaging, buzzwords like “sugar free” and “all-natural”. So watch out!
And Here are 5 foods that you should never eat no matter what the label says:
Margarine and Vegetable Oil
For many, if not most of our African meals, the first thing that goes in the pot is oil. Just because it has the word ‘vegetable’ in front of it, does not mean it should be in your kitchen. Today, our diets have become laden with altered, chemically removed, and deodorized oils from seeds like vegetable oil and margarine that are touted as ‘healthy’.
You can’t believe it’s not butter? Well, it’s not and your heart can tell the difference. A University of Stellenbosch study found that margarine is one of the most commonly consumed foods in South Africa. Among other things, these processed oils increase insulin insensitivity, and lead to digestive disorders, learning disabilities, birth defects, sterility, and bone problems. No! Avocado oil, ghee, coconut oil, and butter are all worthy and welcome substitutes.
Imagine a meal of artificial rice. I don’t mean like cauliflower rice, I mean rice that is not real (not actually food), would you eat it? Why then have we allowed the food marketing industry convince us that fake sugar is a real thing that we should eat. Unfortunately, I have heard about many medical and ‘health’ professionals recommending foods and drinks with fake sugars to the obese and/or diabetics.
Research shows that artificial sweeteners mess up the bacteria in your belly and can actually lead to diabetes. They have also been linked to cancers, allergies, obesity and headaches. You are better off just having the real deal in moderation.
White table salt starts off as sea salt—a real food, then for reasons beyond me, goes through a refining process that strips away the naturally occurring minerals, adds chemicals, heats it then bleaches it. Nice!
You’ve heard that regular table salt can lead to hypertension, yet I see it in so many people’s kitchens, am asked for it when I host and something like 90% of restaurants have these on table for your convenience. Looking for a swap, try Himalayan pink sea salt.
Genetically modified microwave popcorn that is not organic is another no-no. I get it. They are so convenient and affordable. They are also full of cancer-causing ingredients that make it them so not worth the convenience. Very close behind them are even organic corn varieties because you’ll be hard pressed to find the bags that are not coated with cancer causing chemicals like Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). It is just as toxic as it sounds. and nothing good can come of this favoured snack. My recommendation? Just pop your own corn, you know, in a pot with real butter and kernels.
This one is hard for me to talk about. I know that work, and profitable work at that, is not widely accessible in most parts of our continent. I am always elated when we come up with or learn something homegrown that yields profits. So I was very impressed by the lucrative fish farming industry. Add the fact that fish can be one of the best possible sources of protein, making it a win for health and a win for our economies. Now for the not-so-good news—there is a world of difference between fish that is caught wild and fish that is farmed. I don’t know enough to comment on the feed that African fish farmers use yet, but if it is anything like what is used in the US, then it’s mostly genetically modified feed and, according to the non-profit watch dog organization – Environmental Working Group (EWG), the fish end up contaminated with toxic chemicals at very harmful levels.
The pesticides, cancer-causing pollutants and antibiotics contribute to making these foods just not worth the cheaper price.
If it doesn’t say ‘wild’ or ‘wild caught’ or if the vendor cannot tell you where it’s from, I would skip it if I were you unless you are in a fishing town on the coast somewhere on holiday. In that case, take me with you.