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8 Foods and Beverages That Are Bad for You—Even on an Occasional Basis

Some foods, you simply shouldn't eat.

There are certain foods and drinks you should just avoid—no matter what—as these food items are bad for you even on an occasional basis. Knowing which of these foods and beverages to steer clear of can lower disease risks and improve your quality of life.

1. Regular Sodas

Soda offers no nutritional value, but because it contains added sugar it still provides you with about 150 calories per can. Soda is linked with higher body weights in numerous studies. One study published in 2014 in the American Journal of Public Health found that soda consumption appears to accelerate the aging process in cells in your body, which may increase your chronic disease risks.

2. Diet Sodas

It’s true that diet soda provides you with zero calories, which may seem like a better option when it comes to maintaining a healthy body weight. But the opposite appears to be true, according to a 2010 study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. Researchers who conducted the study found that artificial sweetener use is actually linked with weight gain. Another 2015 study found that diet soda is associated with long-term increases in waist circumference—which can boost disease risks.

3. Processed Meats

Always avoid processed meats, if you can. These meats often contain nitrates and nitrites, and are loaded with sodium and other preservatives. Processed meats include many types of deli meats, processed poultry (such as some brands of chicken nuggets), hot dogs, cured meats like sausage and bacon, salami, bologna and hamburgers—just to name a few. A 2016 study published in Public Health Nutrition found that a higher consumption of processed meat is linked with total deaths, heart disease deaths, and cancer mortality.

4. Fatty Cuts of Red Meat

Red meats (especially fatty cuts of beef) are also on the list of foods to avoid when possible. Why? Saturated fat and other components in red meat appear to boost your risk for heart disease and cancer. Harvard School of Public Health says the International Agency for Research on Cancer categorized processed meat as carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and red meat as "probably carcinogenic" in humans.

5. Processed Cheeses

Because real cheese is loaded with essential nutrients like protein and vitamins, always pick the real thing over processed varieties. Processed cheeses, such as American cheese, are often loaded with artificial ingredients, preservatives and fillers not found in real cheese. You can probably taste the difference when eating American vs. real cheese.

6. White Bread

Because whole-grain bread is more nutritious than highly-processed white bread, skip white bread whenever possible. Whole-grain bread has a lot more fiber in it—which helps keeps you fuller longer, aids in healthy weight management, and reduces disease risks. One 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that lowering white bread consumption leads to lower total body weight and belly fat gains.

7. Too Much Caffeine

While caffeine is a staple in many Americans’ diets, drinking too much caffeine can be problematic. Mayo Clinic says it’s likely safe for most healthy adults to drink up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily (equivalent to 4 cups of brewed coffee), but ingesting more caffeine than this can lead to migraine headaches, irritability, insomnia, a fast heartbeat, muscle tremors, and an upset stomach. Mayo Clinic warns to avoid mixing caffeine with alcohol.

8. Sticky Candy

Candy make give you a quick sugar high and energy boost, but the extra calories in candy can take a toll on your waistline. If that wasn't bad enough, the sugar in sticky candy attaches to your teeth, boosting your cavity and gum disease risk. Choose sugar-free gum over candy to save your teeth, and prevent post-candy blood sugar drops and unwanted weight gain.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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