The Two Worst Foods in the World

Ask 10 people to name the two worst movies ever made and you’ll probably get a lot of different answers. “Ishtar”? “Waterworld”? 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.

And here’s why.

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, but it might also be high in lycopene and protein. So you wind up doing a quick little evaluation to decide whether to eat it. No problem.

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 and…
  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.

Lovely.

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” which constitute, at this writing, at least a quarter of our total calories (seven 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!”

Author: Jonny Bowden

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, (aka "The Rogue Nutritionist") is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health. He is a board-certified nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology and the author of fourteen books on health, healing, food and longevity including two best-sellers, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth” and “Living Low Carb”.

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11 Comments

  1. If you drink water or another beverage, a little bit is required to quench your thirst. But with soda, you can drink many cups of it. That is because they add enough salt to the soda to keep it from quenching your thirst fully.

    Post a Reply
  2. Dr. Oz I here is now pushing “Pure Slim Saffron Extract” what do
    you know about this?

    Thank You for the info on diet soda I am off as of today :)

    Post a Reply
    • i’ve seen the research but so far i remain unconvinced. But i’d be delighted to be proven wrong!

      Post a Reply
  3. This is so right on. Thank you, for all you do to keep us informed! :)

    Post a Reply
  4. Thanks for this Jonny. Great entry, I’ll be sure to show this to as many people as possible!

    Post a Reply
  5. Not related to this topic, but haven’t an found answer elsewhere
    so, not for this comments section but a question which opens a new discussion:

    What is the best time to take vitamins? When do they have the greatest effect? Morning; before or after breakfast? afternoon? evening? before bedtime? When directed to be taken with meals; before or after eating?

    Thankx
    MS

    Post a Reply
    • it depends. But in general my rule of thumb is take with food except in the case of specific things that are best taken on an empty stomach. Magnesium probably best at night. Probiotics during a meal. Always better in “divided doses” but most people (me included) often don’t do that, so better to take all at once than not at all.

      warmly
      jb

      Post a Reply
  6. What caused that weight gain? Topping the list of culprits are meat, sweetened drinks, fried foods, and any form of potatoes. The biggest cause of weight gain was eating french fries; every extra serving of fries eaten in a day was linked to a gain of more than three pounds, while eating an extra serving of potato chips led to 1.69 pounds. Other diet busters included refined grains (like white rice and white bread) and butter.

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  7. For each extra serving of potato chips eaten in a day, for instance, people gained 1.69 lbs. every four years. Among the other extra-fattening foods the study highlighted: potatoes. Baked, boiled, mashed or French fried, each extra serving of potatoes was associated with an average 1.28-lb. weight gain (looked at separately, French fries were particularly unhealthy, linked with more than 3 lbs. of gain alone). Rounding out the top five most fattening foods were sugar-sweetened beverages, red meat and processed red meat, each associated with about 1 lb. of weight gain every four years.

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  8. There are now two other American frozen potato processors larger than Simplot: Lamb Weston, part of ConAgra, and Ore-Ida, owned by Heinz Frozen Food. Both of these companies are located in the Northwest. Lamb Weston processes fries for McDonald’s and makes more that 130 different types of fries, some of which are sold in school lunch programs. In 2002, Ore-Ida stimulated sales of frozen french fries by introducing Funky Kool Blue Fries (not made from blue varieties of potatoes, but artificially colored a brilliant blue), chocolate-flavored (and colored) fries, and cinnamon sugar fries.

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  9. “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, and it might also be high in lycopene and protein so you sometimes have to do a little evaluation to decide whether to eat it,” says Jonny Bowden.

    Post a Reply

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