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5 Toxic Foods that People Think Are Healthy

27 July 2014

5 toxic foods that most people think are healthy.

1. Avocado

First, avocado does NOT pass a basic taste test for whether or not to eat it.  I don’t care what you have to say about how you like them. Just like you like the taste of Kale. Sure, when mixed with cheese, peppers, onions, salsa and corn chips, they may seem appetizing.  But by themselves, they taste worse than the food version of Paris Hilton’s singing career.

When exposed to oxygen, the meat of the avocado fruit immediately starts to brown and rot.  It smells bad, but no one thinks why these are signs that this “health” food may not be good for your body.  When the fat is exposed to room temperature oxygen (70 degrees), it begins to break down.  Now imagine what happens to those fatty acids while in your oxygen-rich body at 98.6 degrees.  Or when your skin is even hotter while sunbathing (1).  Their chemical structure is deficient in oxygen so they are prone to lipid peroxidation (2). Can you say skin spots?  You probably can’t say lipofuscin, which means “dark fat” because I can’t either (4).

“Unsaturated oils get rancid when exposed to air; that is called oxidation, and it is the same process that occurs when oil paint ‘dries.’ Free radicals are produced in the process.” – Ray Peat, pHD

Avocado is mostly unsaturated fat – 15% saturated, 71% monounsaturated, 14% polyunsaturated (3). Unsaturated fats break down rapidly due to heat causing the process known as lipid peroxidation.” (5).  Polyunsaturated fats also inhibit reduce thyroid hormone T3, affecting proper thyroid function, which is arguably the most hormone in the body (5, 6).  Although monounsaturated is less bad (monounsaturated fats still affect thyroid function) than polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated is also contained in milk fat and olive oil with lower amounts of polyunsaturated fat.  Other references on free fatty acids affecting thyroid here and here.

At a very sad point in my life while going low carb, I made a point of it to eat an avocado a day.  Low glycemic index!  Healthy fat!  Bullshit!  Soon I began to develop bile reflux and extreme sulfur burps.  This was the most excruciating gut pain I’ve ever experienced.  Upon giving them up, the pain and burps disappeared almost immediately.  Sure, maybe I was eating too much, but I’ve eaten a bunch of honey, orange juice, and milk and NEVER had a similar problem.

2. Salmon or Fish Oil or Omega 3s

A lot of the same points as above apply.  Sure salmon meat begins to “taste” outstanding when covered with butter, garlic and lemon.  Unfortunately, it still smells like a nursing home while it gets cooked and the fats become rancid – look at the fat turn white and ooze out of the fish. Yum!  Compare this to a nice juicy steak that tastes great without any seasoning required.  Despite all this hate, even salmon does taste better than avocado.

Yes, salmon is loaded with omega 3’s.  It is a cold water fish.  This is to keep it’s body from freezing in cold temperatures.  You’re a warm blooded mammal.  Not a fish.  You don’t want your tissue loaded with fats sensitive to high temperatures.  Omega 3’s do reduce inflammation caused by omega 6’s (see avocado and vegetable oil).  However, they do so by suppressing your immune system.  Huge win! No.

The fish may contain astaxanthin which may protect you from unsaturated fats and the sun.  But why consume tons of unsaturated fats to protect yourself from them?  That would be like drinking beer for the water content.

3. Whole Grains

Yet another one of my failed experiments with nutrition.  At one point, I swore by whole grains..oh their dreamy high fiber content, their amazing ability to make me feel “full” (read: bloated) for hours.  Their lower glycemic index!   This was a great win for grain farmers, they could sell stuff (bran, husks) that used to need to get removed and wasted.  The down side is the exterior part of grains and seeds are highly irritable to your gut.  They contain phytic acid which inhibits mineral absorption.  Oh no, mineral absorption you say?!  Yes, big deal actually:  calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, etc are all hard enough as is to get from diet that consuming whole grains makes it even tougher.  All these minerals are essential to metabolism and hormone balancing.

My teeth became more sensitive and less white.  My nails became brittle and unhealthy.  My gut was consistently irritated or gassy.  If you must eat grains, eat them refined.  The Weston A Price foundation notes how people who ate refined carbohydrates and sugars somehow had healthier teeth than those who did not eat refined carbohydrates.

“Over the long term, when the diet lacks minerals or contains high levels of phytates or both, the metabolism goes down, and the body goes into mineral-starvation mode. The body then sets itself up to use as little of these minerals as possible. Adults may get by for decades on a high-phytate diet, but growing children run into severe problems. In a phytate-rich diet, their bodies will suffer from the lack of calcium and phosphorus with poor bone growth, short stature, rickets, narrow jaws and tooth decay; and for the lack of zinc and iron with anemia and mental retardation.”  – Weston A. Price

4. Raw Cruciferous Vegetables

Part of the “green juice” diet, raw cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, collard greens) are loaded with enough goitrogens to slow the thyroid.  They are so bitter than they don’t pass the simple “taste” test unless you’ve manipulated your diet and yourself so much that bitter stuff somehow tastes appetizing.  Yes, these people do exist.  Yes, they do contain more vitamin K (kale), magnesium (chard), and calcium (collards) than most foods.  However, you can get these nutrients from other foods (cheese, orange juice, milk) without the negative consequences.

Make some bone broth – I prefer cow, goat or lamb bones.  Throw in some vinegar or lemon juice.  Throw in some spices and salt.  Throw in these vegetables.  Boil out their nutrients into the water, and trash the remaining parts or consume them if you think you need more fiber.

5. Vegetable Oil

Soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola, sesame oil, sunflower seed oil, palm oil, and any others that are labeled as “unsaturated.”

The queen of the United States Government meddling in the economy and health of its people, vegetable oil, is awful for you.  Unsaturated fats are good for heart health!  Butter and cheese, things that have been eaten for millenia, are bad for you!  Myths.  Let’s smash soy and corn, and squeeze their oil out so people can consume more of their fats than they ever would have just eating soy (33% by mass = fatty acids) or corn (10% by mass = fatty acids) in their natural state. In a tablespoon of corn oil (fried anything), you consume the same amount of fat that you’d consume by eating about 10 tablespoons which is about 2/3rds of a cup.  When was the last time you sat down and ate that much corn?

I get it.  The US is good at growing corn and soy.  There is a big lobby for it, and the forced excess supply outstrips the natural demand so products start to get used for other things like making oil or ethanol or candles.  This stuff isn’t going to kill you in small doses.  The problem is that it gets used in almost all microwaveable meals and in most restaurants.  The problem is every baked good recipe calls for margarine or vegetable oil.  Is it the sugar making people fat?  Is it the sugar giving people diabetes?  People have been consuming sugar a lot longer than vegetable oil.  Old recipes used butter and sugar.

As detailed above, unsaturated fats oxidize in the body and slow your metabolism.  They’ll make you fat and ugly.  Avoid them.

References

  1.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2493049 Skin temperature during sunbathing–relevance for skin cancer.
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118035/ Determination of lipid oxidation products in vegetable oils and marine omega-3 supplements
  3. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1844/2 Avocado nutrition facts
  4. http://www.artcamp.com.mx/EZINES/30OpeningEyes/7/aging&stress.htm Age pigment: Cause and Effect of Aging and Stress
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipid_peroxidation
  6.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3900181  Effect of low-carbohydrate diets high in either fat or protein on thyroid function, plasma insulin, glucose, and triglycerides in healthy young adults.
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3417114 Effect of fatty acid administration on plasma thyroid hormones in the domestic fowl.

Comments

Share your opinion by posting or replying to others comments.

hazii@aol.com'

Tod Hazlett – Reply

July 30, 2014 at 8:01 am - 3 years ago

Interesting read and, I don’t know what the hell to eat anymore.

    Scott SchlegelReply

    July 31, 2014 at 8:16 am - 3 years ago

    Hi Tod, try low fat seafood, foods with high saturation index (coconut oil, ghee, cocoa butter), lean cuts of meat, fruit and veggies. Anything to support your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

bradley.t.herman@gmail.com'

Bradley Herman – Reply

August 5, 2014 at 7:59 pm - 3 years ago

Hey, just want to note that when cooking salmon, the white stuff that comes out is albumen (protein) being expelled from the contracting muscle fibers of the fish and coagulating… This is purely the result of cooking at to too high of a temperature. Cook only up to around 120º and you’re good.

    Scott SchlegelReply

    August 6, 2014 at 7:21 am - 3 years ago

    Brad, thanks for point out that that is albumin. Guess you can’t just cook it and scrape away the fat then – that sucks. Low temperature cooking probably is ideal for salmon.

janinakranas@hotmail.co.uk'

janina kranas – Reply

April 27, 2016 at 12:38 pm - 1 year ago

What an awful article… biased and badly written.

    Scott SchlegelReply

    April 27, 2016 at 12:48 pm - 1 year ago

    You’re right Janina

    Michagenereau@gmail.com'

    Micha – Reply

    May 16, 2016 at 4:59 pm - 1 year ago

    I agree. It goes pretty much against everthing else you read about these foods. Scott, these foods were bad for you but not most people.

      Scott SchlegelReply

      May 16, 2016 at 5:11 pm - 1 year ago

      I suppose it depends on what one views as healthy. If someone wants to suppress their metabolism, go ahead and eat avocado and fish oil.

        jkelly4@yahoo.com'

        Jess – Reply

        October 25, 2016 at 8:39 am - 8 months ago

        It’s so refreshing to read someone who has got it nailed! Spot on – I have been avoiding all of these foods for about a year now. Unbelievable results. So sad that everybody is fed such lies by mas media. Well don.e

suprcharg@gmail.com'

James Staniswalis – Reply

April 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm - 1 year ago

Absolutely uneducated

    Scott SchlegelReply

    April 29, 2016 at 5:13 pm - 1 year ago

    Hey James.

    Did you look at the pubmed studies I linked? Please educate me. Or indoctrinate me if you’d rather.

adam.m.nonnenmacher@gmail.com'

Adam – Reply

May 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm - 1 year ago

What kind of troll article is this? Avocado is one of the healthiest foods you can eat and that is consistently backed by science and alternative medicine. Nice try, but one article on the web of some guy who had gut distress from eating an avocado and then venting about it online is a total quack article. You aren’t even a doctor. If an avocado gives you stomach pain, you might want to get checked for some other problems such as leaky gut, etc, etc

    Scott SchlegelReply

    May 16, 2016 at 5:09 pm - 1 year ago

    I linked plenty of references about the detrimental effects of high fat diets and especially high unsaturated fat intake.
    Unsaturated fats suppress metabolism and nutrient requirements, such as zinc and vitamin B6, making one think they are getting healthier. But they’re not. They merely reduced their nutrient needs.
    This is one reason “EFAs” became “healthy.” They noticed skin was less dry on hypermetabolic mice when they introduced EFAs. But the same problem was alleviated using zinc, vitamin A and B6

    dorothy.mace40@comcast.net'

    Dorothy MaceReply

    May 16, 2016 at 5:17 pm - 1 year ago

    I agree, this guy is intentionally trying to mislead people.
    One of Satan’s helpers.

      Scott SchlegelReply

      May 16, 2016 at 6:04 pm - 1 year ago

      Well. The majority is usually wrong about any problem that’s complex. So if the majority of people, like yourself, think I’m wrong, then maybe I’m right. Funny how that works.

    a.foehrenbach@gmail.com'

    Arndt – Reply

    May 19, 2017 at 9:13 pm - 1 month ago

    “Backed by science and alternative medicine”. So mutually exclusive mythologies come to the same conclusion?

dawnjordanmusil@hotmail.com'

Dawn Jordan-Musil – Reply

May 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm - 1 year ago

I’m afraid I can’t agree with all of this. But thankfully I don’t have to 🙂

    rainbowconnection@yahoo.com'

    Maryanne – Reply

    May 16, 2016 at 9:55 pm - 1 year ago

    👍

rainbowconnection@yahoo.com'

Maryanne – Reply

May 16, 2016 at 9:53 pm - 1 year ago

Wow….so sad.
For you.
Most of us feel and look great with increased consumption of Avocadoes and Omega3s….perhaps you are intolerant.

Cschae24@comcast.net'

Camille – Reply

May 16, 2016 at 11:31 pm - 1 year ago

Maybe you are allergic to healthy food.

ulmer.john@gmail.com'

John – Reply

May 18, 2016 at 9:23 am - 1 year ago

This is one of the most ignorant, laughable ‘articles’ I think I’ve ever read. A couple breezy citations (the full content of which you don’t seem to have read) packed between rambling subjective statements. Don’t give up your day job.

    Scott SchlegelReply

    May 18, 2016 at 9:54 am - 1 year ago

    Perhaps that is the point of it.

wre4444@gmail.com'

William – Reply

May 18, 2016 at 9:30 am - 1 year ago

Admittedly, there is not much settled science when it comes to nutrition, but I must say, this seems like some very strange concepts here. I eat an avocado a day, salmon at least once a week, whole grain daily. I cook with avocado oil, peanut oil, olive oil, butter and lard. I eat red meat maybe twice a week. I’m 38 and the last visit to the doctor I was told my blood test was the best he had seen in years. I’m around 12% BMI. My biggest problem is that I live in a town with 26 breweries. 😉

My point is not be a contrarian, but to point out that those foods are generally accepted as healthy. I can attest to this fact. Perhaps these foods just don’t agree with you? Perhaps it is excess? This often is true of “diets”.

trudypilbrow@gmail.com'

trudy – Reply

May 29, 2016 at 3:53 am - 1 year ago

Great post Scott.

Craigerstar1@gmail.com'

Craig – Reply

June 13, 2016 at 7:24 am - 1 year ago

You have andolutely no idea what you are talking about. Get an education first. If you have an education you have missed classes.

gregdoyle6@hotmail.com'

Gregory DoyleReply

June 14, 2016 at 4:53 am - 1 year ago

Great article Scott. Unfortunately the negative comments are from people who do not understand the context of the piece and are victims of a false doctrine and cultural prejudice. We’ve all been there where we stick up for something so obvious like ‘avocados are healthy’ that we do not question it. Personally I think people who eat ‘health foods’ are mostly high off stress hormones which can give the illusion of health (and a superiority complex), I was one.

“Professional dietitians” and other “experts” primarily function as enforcers of cultural prejudice. – Ray Peat

Sadly this will fall on ears of people who’ve fallen down the health trap. Slamming green juices and think that sugar is ‘toxic’.

    Scott SchlegelReply

    June 14, 2016 at 9:42 pm - 1 year ago

    Well said Gregory. I appreciate the positive feedback as sometimes it actually does get overwhelming to be called “stupid” over and over again by people who haven’t even looked into the rest of my beliefs.

    I have been there as well. I once swore carbs were the devil. And as I ate less I became less healthy which led me to believe I still was eating too many carbs. I merely needed to cure myself of the “addiction.” Pretty soon my diet became nothing but seems like nuts, seeds and avocados. Fortunately after an all-out crash in energy and ability to live an enjoyable life, I realized I was wrong about everything. My body knew all the answers. I was suppressing my instincts and addicted to stress hormones.

    I’ve at least cured myself of some of my anger at my past food choices, and am no longer as black and white. Gray is good, but people who believe they’re trying to eat healthy do not practice gray area or moderation because they have some pre-conceived notion of what is healthy and tip the boat all the way to that side even though it’s obvious that that shouldn’t work.

mach.natalie@gmail.com'

Horacy – Reply

July 11, 2016 at 4:54 pm - 12 months ago

Wow, such bullshit, makes you sick just to read it.

Pattyavalon@yahoo.com'

P A – Reply

July 20, 2016 at 2:22 pm - 11 months ago

This is the most horrible b s I can’t even call it an article about avocados.
Please do not believe this garbage written here.

christopherdepoel@gmail.com'

C. W. – Reply

September 12, 2016 at 8:36 am - 10 months ago

They are not at this stage of the journey yet Mr. Schlegel. Let them follow low fruit and high nuts, seeds, and vegetable oil diets for a bit longer. Let them avoid saturated fat and put up a pot of whole wheat pasta to boil. Anyone who enjoys boiled GMO bean water aka soy milk can leave the dairy for me. PS. Even I haven’t been able to give up wild Mackerel and Herring yet. Would you say the n3 disadvantages outweigh the amino, mineral, vitamin, and other nutrient advantages?

    Scott SchlegelReply

    October 3, 2016 at 6:51 pm - 9 months ago

    Hi CW. I can’t say for certain as I also am in the catch 22. Typically, I view macros as more important than micros so I would say eating something high in a “bad” macro may be worse than missing out on the associated micronutrients as they are relatively much less consumed (mcg vs grams in many cases). I haven’t eaten those fish as they aren’t available wild in my area, but you may be able to limit your fat consumption from them which would make them a net positive. I find with limiting fat in general that I typically need to consume less micronutrients. If you can’t give them up, just consume with plenty of saturated fats (2:1 ratio) and vitamin E to protect you.

quietandintense0@gmail.com'

Troy – Reply

February 12, 2017 at 6:26 am - 5 months ago

I’m not going to bash you or call you names or claim you are foolish/uneducated like the others impulsively are. Just going to chit chat like we would in person (those people wouldn’t say those things to you in person unless they are naturally brash, which I doubt).

Nutritional science is always embedded in some kind of discrepancy. Scientific research points in all kinds of directions. Most people are well within their rights to reach their own conclusions, of course, since they can typically support their nutritional beliefs with valid research.

The only thing that makes me shake my head is the avocado discrepancy. I’ve spent my entire life hearing how nutritious they are. I’ve also been eating them for the majority of my 26 years in life. I hear about the Ray Peat Diet for the first time and decided to do some research. Personal opinion? Sounds wacky. I’ve noticed a few people drinking the RP koolaid, almost likes a cult.

I’ve never personally experienced any bloating after eating avocados. They are a nutritional powerhouse in their vitamin/mineral makeup. Perhaps you just experience negative effects and that’s been your experience. This is genuinely the first time I’ve ever heard of avocados not being a superfood. Here and on the RP forum. No gut pain, sulfurous burps or bile reflux here. Maybe you have a natural intolerance to them?

I don’t think there will be a consensus in nutrition anytime soon. Too many people from the keto community, the Paleo community, the Vegans, the high carb community, etc. are engulfed in their own ways. I’m trying to keep an open minded.

I didn’t eat a single avocado for a few years and never noticed a negative or positive health difference upon cessation. I forewent eating them because around where I’m from, they were stupid expensive and I’d only find the overly ripe ones.

A lot of times, I believe environmental, lifestyle and attitude factors more than nutrition. Obviously nutrition is paramount — preeminent. But if you carry a negative attitude around or think lowly of yourself or simply life a stressful and/or inadequate life, no matter how nutritious you eat you are probably going to feel like crap. This is all speculation. Nutritional science points in a billion different directions. The “I’m right about it all!” crowd lies everywhere you look. Maybe we should all just call BS on ourselves?

m.shevchenko@uq.edu.au'

Maxim – Reply

April 24, 2017 at 5:49 am - 2 months ago

I do believe that this article has a lot of truth, and want to support it. Well, not 100% truth, but probably 80%. Most of the harm of the described foods is exaggerated, but I agree none of them is a “nutritional powerhouse”. They cannot be explicitly called “toxic” (except the vegetable oils, which have surely nothing good), but just not perfect. Anyway, this article definitely needs some small corrections, which would make its conclusion milder and less disgusting for the negative commenters.

“When exposed to oxygen, the meat of the avocado fruit immediately starts to brown and rot. It smells bad” – I don’t agree this is due to fat oxidation. The same is observed for cut apples, raw potatoes, ripe bananas, i.e. many kind of foods with negligible amounts of fat. This phenomenon is explained by polymerising phenolic antioxidant compounds. In the natural conditions, this may be beneficial to the fruit or bulb to quickly cover itself with a crust of dense brown stuff which protects it from further water loss and microbial/fungal invasion. In that way, an unripe fruit will survive a small damage, i.e. an accidental bird’s peck, and ripe as usual, while its small part turns into brown protective spot. These phenolics have nothing to do with sun sensitivity and skin spots. Probably, they are not even assimilated and just pass through the digestive system.
As for “it smells bad” – this is a fate of all spoiling foods:) have you ever met a food that smells good while spoiling? This is not a valid reason to avoid everything except non-perishables like refined sugar…
Nevertheless, the nutritional value of avocados is not as high as many people believe. It is still better than (or not as bad as) most plant fatty foods (monounsaturated fats are indeed much better than poly-), but surely not a real superfood to be consumed every day. Still OK occasionally.
Salmon and fish oil… the question is actually in the dose. Quite probably, 2-5 g omega-3 is better than 0. But any more is indeed toxic.
Whole grains once were staples of many traditional cultures, though they should be processed carefully to reduce antinutrients, and even after that they are not among the really nutritious foods. However, some people suggest they may be helpful, for example due to silica content which is not as abundant in other plant families.
Raw crucifers are not only antithyroid (this effect seems to vary a lot for different people), but also too tough and bitter. They indeed benefit from cooking. While raw, they are not always necessarily toxic – it is just inefficient or even stupid way to consume them raw, when the other option is so much better.
Finally, the harm of vegetable oils cannot be overemphasized – I 100% agree with Scott.

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