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Why Salt Should Be Your Enemy: and Other Foods to Avoid

I’m sure most of you know that excessive salt consumption can cause high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to heart problems. However, what you might not realise is just how many more problems salt can cause.

I love salt. It increases the flavour of the food I eat. It just feels like once I have some salt, I want more and more – and that’s just the thing. Salt is sodium chloride, and brain scans have shown that sodium triggers dopamine, the neurotransmitter linked to pleasure. This can mean that once you eat some salt, you automatically want more, and more, and more. You can end up consuming far more salt than your recommended salt allowance, and it can also cause you to indirectly gain lots of weight, as you don’t realise when you’ve eaten enough.

Not only this, but excessive salt causes us to retain less water and calcium. Salt makes us thirsty, which would be fine if we were going to drink water; but I don’t know about you, I definitely don’t drink water with my crisps! Not at all! No, I reach for the Coca Cola or Sprite which in turn causes:

  • Even more weight gain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased risk of cavities and damaged teeth

Some studies even suggest that fizzy drinks can weaken our bones! So really, this combination isn’t the healthiest… maybe I should swap to water and more fruit?

Don’t think you’re safe if you don’t snack on crisps and fizzy drinks. I bet you didn’t realise that white bagels aren’t nearly so healthy as you thought they were! In fact, starchy, white bagels and any of their flavoursome variations (poppy seed, garlic etc) are made from refined wheat flour which has essentially had all of its goodness taken away. That’s because the fibre and nutrients which make whole grain healthy have been removed to turn it into refined wheat flour. Not really a healthy alternative to Coco Pops after all, then. Especially if you eat them with cream cheese like I normally do! Additionally, bagels are usually a lot more dense than bread, which means that even though you think you’re not eating that much, you could be eating as much as 5 slices of bread in calories! Combined with that cream cheese, you’re looking at somewhere between 500- 700 unhealthy calories just for breakfast!

I’m not finished. Yet again, there is another food that I love, that certainly doesn’t seem to love me. Hot dogs. The processed kind, I mean. I have a huge soft spot for Chicken Frankfurters, but apparently these processed sausages can have up to 80% of their calories in fat- mostly the dreaded saturated kind. This can increase amount of cholesterol in your blood which can mean that, if your levels become too high; you risk getting heart diseases- including:

  • Heart Attacks
  • Strokes
  • Narrowed Arteries

Next up on my deadly list is popcorn. Whenever I go to see a new movie at the cinema, I always get myself a big portion of sweet popcorn. The bad news is that not only are the portions huge and calorie-heavy (up to 1200 calories for some medium sized popcorn tubs), the popcorn itself is made in vast quantities of coconut oil, which is made up of more than 90% saturated fat. So the saturated fat returns… and not in a good way. We really don’t realise what we’re doing to ourselves when we munch away at the crunchy kernels while watching the new Iron Man or Despicable Me movie, and it’s time to make a change! Try dried fruit as an alternative, preferably not    cranberries, pineapples, watermelon or banana chips as even these are artificially altered, sweetened, or fried so much during production process that they actually become unhealthy! I like apricots and raisins best personally.

To end my list, I finish with energy bars. I used to love energy bars, breakfast bars, crunchy bars- you name it. They were so sweet and yummy but obviously I was eating oats so they must still be healthy! (sarcastic voice) 

One day I started thinking about why I actually liked eating them and what this meant. I loved how sugary sweet they were, and when I looked at the label’s “honey” description with my rose-tinted glasses firmly off, I realised they probably weren’t as healthy as I had originally thought they were. It turns out that these energy health bars have added syrup, sugars and fat to make them as tasty as they are. There goes that exercise snack out the window! For anyone trying to lose weight or at least not gain any, stay away from these! Now I eat a special fruit bar which I’m assuming is healthier seeing as it doesn’t taste sugary at all, more like a weird fruit paste of banana, apple and strawberry… The feeling of eating healthily makes it all worth it though.

That’s all the dangerous and deceptive foods I’ve experienced myself, but I’m sure there are plenty more out there. Maybe you have some guilty pleasures you can’t bear to eat often because of their health risks? Let me know below! As always, remember that most things are fine to eat in moderation and although fruit is very healthy for you, overindulging in it can really upset your stomach- something I have to learn the hard way every two weeks or so. Just something to think about!


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