14 Foods the Experts Won’t Eat

by in Ask the Experts, Healthy Tips, June 22, 2010


Most of the time we tell you to eat everything in moderation, but there are just some foods even the experts stay away from. Ironically, deep-fried candy bars didn’t make the list — we polled both the Healthy Eats staff and nationwide nutrition experts to see which foods they shy away from.

From Our Experts:
We polled our very own Healthy Eats experts and found some interesting foods they steer clear of:

Bottled Salad Dressing
“They are loaded with preservatives and are a source of added sugar that most people don’t realize. It’s so easy (and tastes so much better) when you make your own .”
Dana White

Raw Fish
“I avoid raw fish (i.e. sushi) as there’s just too high of a risk for getting sick from various pathogens. Between all the food safety information that’s saturating my brain, it just scares me.
Toby Amidor

Genetically Modified Foods
“I avoid GMOs because of the risk for adverse health effects and to support small local farmers that are producing quality products free of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and GMOs.
Katie Cavuto Boyle

Gum with “Layers”
“When I first chewed this new gum with layers, I loved the bursting fruity flavor. But after reading the ingredient list, I’ll never chew this gum, which contains gelatin (animal-based) and partially hydrogenated coconut oil (trans fat) – again. While both ingredients are so small they’re virtually insignificant, I don’t think they need to be in gum, so I will never chew it again!
Janel Ovrut

National Experts:
Many of the experts we asked had a tough time coming up with a response, because many don’t want to be told they’re the “food police.” But once they took some time to think about it, their answers made a lot of sense. Check out these ten foods they came up with.

Raw Sprouts
“Although, I love the fresh, crisp taste of raw alfafa sprouts, I avoid eating them because of outbreaks of E. coli infections associated with them.  With only about 10 calories per cup and a good dose of vitamin K, folic acid and cholesterol-reducing compounds called saponins, these tiny sprouts are a good-for-you food.  However, I choose to steer clear of them by substituting sliced cukes, diced carrots and julienned basil leaves in my salads, sandwiches and soups.
Victoria Shanta Retelny, a registered dietitian and owner of a nutrition & culinary communications consulting practice, LivingWell Communications, in Chicago.

High-Mercury Fish
“My husband loves swordfish, but I rarely buy it for him because of the high mercury content. I prefer to serve smaller fish which are lower in mercury to my family, like shrimp, scallops, tilapia and salmon.”
– Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, Spokesperson, American Dietetic Association

Fake Foods

“I steer clear of foods the glow in the dark or smell like something that you’d never find in nature. My food philosophy is that the further we stray from real ingredients from the earth, the less healthful the food will be for us — and the more problems it will ultimately create for our Earth. Artificially neon-colored soft drink powder packets are definitely too oddly unnatural and heavily processed to ever be found in my shopping basket. Though I like to consider myself a food lover, not hater, my basic bottom line is ‘If you don’t need it, why eat it?‘”
Jackie Newgent, RD, recreational culinary instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education and author of Big Green Cookbook (Wiley, 2009).

Conventionally Raised Meat and Poultry

“Although our diet has a plant emphasis. when I purchase meat and poultry for my family, it’s always grass-fed and organic.  I’ve been concerned about antibiotic resistance for two decades. With superbugs like MRSA invading our beaches, we want to make sure there are antibiotics that work against these bugs for our children and their next generation.
– Melissa Halas-Liang, MA RD CDE, founder of www.superkidsnutrition.com

“I can only think of a couple of foods I’d rather not eat.  The main one is brains.  I just don’t like the idea of eating them, but concern about prion diseases (remember mad cow?) provides a convenient excuse.
Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public Health at NYU and author of Food Politics and What to Eat.

Products That Claim Too Much
I recommend my clients stay away from sports nutrition products that promise unbelievable results…
—Nancy Clark, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook and sports dietitian in the Boston-area

Artificial Sweeteners

“I avoid all foods with artificial sweeteners. I do not feed any foods with artificial sweeteners to my kids, and I also tell my clients to slash it out of their diet. First, I believe in fueling your body with real foods instead of chemicals, and also know there is mounting research suggesting artificial sweeteners can’t fool your brain and actually lead to sugar cravings, which is definitely not a good thing!
—Mitzi Dulan, RD, CSSD, Co-Author of The All-Pro Diet

Well-Done Meat and Fish
“I avoid charred chicken or fish cooked to well-done at the barbecue.  Although I love the flavor of the protein that’s become blackened or that is well-done, I don’t want to ingest the carcinogens, known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that form when the meats are cooked at a high temperature.  So I stick to eating meats that are roasted or baked since the temperature isn’t as high and the dangerous carcinogens aren’t formed.”
—Lyssie, Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT, one of The  Nutrition Twins and co-author of The Secret To Skinny

Non-Safe Plastics
“I do not microwave food in plastic, so I am careful to transfer foods to glass bowls, and check the number on the bottom of any plastics that we use in the kitchen, especially the kids plates and bowls.
—Elizabeth DeRobertis, MS, RD, CDN, CDE, Director of Nutrition Programs at Scarsdale Medical Group, New York and Founder of Westchester Nutrition Consultants.

Farm-Raised Fish
“I feel strongly about purchasing and eating wild salmon as opposed to farm raised salmon.  When I learned that fish “farmers” could select the color of their feed to match the color they wanted their salmon meat to most resemble, I was shocked.  Eating wild caught Alaskan salmon may be a bit more expensive, but the in the long run, it provides more Vitamin D, less contaminates, less PCBs and a kinder environment for the fish.  Cooking with high quality, natural ingredients also means a better-tasting meal, which results in a satisfied eater.
— Robin Plotkin, RD, LD a registered dietitian and Culinary & Nutrition Expert based in Dallas, Texas

TELL US: Which foods do you flat-out avoid?

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Comments (170)

  1. Ethelmae Fox says:

    I only have one "rule". If it moves don't eat it. Never, even as a child been picky. Love to eat and my figure shows it. Tubbey me.

  2. H. Shukla says:

    I also avoid cooking on nonstick surfaces (teflon and other coating) because long term effects of these chemicals is not known. We dont heat (or cook) food in platic container in microwave oven because plastic degrade at high temperatures and produce highly carcinogenic (cancer causing) compounds. Even bottled water stored in car during summer months can be toxic in long run. Best thing to do is to stick to conventional metals and avoid synthetic surfaces !!!

  3. CeeM says:

    Everything in Moderation….. Even Moderation!

    (And nothing that wasn't food 100 yrs ago)

  4. Noel says:

    I have ordered a free range organic turkey from a local farm every year for the past 4 years and every year I have had to increase the size of the bird because I never have any leftovers! I brine it a few days before Thanksgiving in organic apple cider, chicken/vegatable broth, and seasonings and then bake it breast side down. My family, only 5 of us, and occassionally a couple of friends devour it and there is rarely anything left after eating again later in the evening. Today I just picked up an 18 lb bird in hopes of having something left for the next day. We will see!!! I will never go back to frozen commercially raised birds – there is a HUGE difference in the flavor, texture, and moisture of the bird.

    • dietitian says:

      It's all DNA no matter if it is from a cow, a corn plant, or green beans! There are just different arrangements.

    • Cheri says:

      I too agree with this!

    • C. Long says:

      youmust work for Monsanto. There is PLENTY of study as to how bad GMO food is. And I was NOT a believer in it until recently. For all the people saying its genes just in a different way.. gee genes strung in a different way cause horrible mutations in some cases. And this is the case with GMO. You cant tell me that having genes for poisons in EVERY cell of a plant (as a built in perticide) is a good thing. For the plants that do have it naturally we dont EAT those parts.. here we are eating them and have no choice.

      If you did ANY real research on this you would see it was true. I will take the risk of things been here we are used to then gut stopping ones we arent.

  5. Suzan Schumacher says:

    I used to like canned chicken soup until if found out what mechanically separated meat is. Yuck!

  6. Ralph says:

    Too many silver spoon comments for me. I am unable to afford the adjustments. But I have never liked sugar or most sweet things.

  7. Ashley says:

    I've outlawed just about everything that comes from a box/can/bottle, and try to find natural (or at least less-processed) alternatives to items that I'm not willing to make from scratch yet (like bread, tortillas). We make our own ice creams and cookies now–we should be avoiding sugar, but if we're going to eat desserts, at least I know what's in them–and I'm going to try making my own crackers soon. Trying to mostly give up sodas as well, make them a very rare thing. Oh, and I will not eat farm-raised seafood or already-peeled shrimp anymore!

  8. Matthew says:

    We avoid Alaskan Salmon now and only get wild-caught Atlantic Salmon. The results of the massive radiation leak from Japan first showed up in Alaska. I find it incredibly hard to believe that we are being told everything we need to know about that leak. Especially since physicists have stated that the leak in Japan is many times worse than Chernobyl.

  9. Kimberly says:

    I avoid foods with red dye and I keep them away from my kids too.

  10. Stijn Hommes says:

    "Bottled Salad Dressing: “They are loaded with preservatives and are a source of added sugar that most people don’t realize. It’s so easy (and tastes so much better) when you make your own .”
    – Dana White" I am offended by Dana's comment. I've developed salad dressings for a living. I can't speak for the ones in the United States, but to preserve a dressing up to 3 months you need less than 1% of preservative in your recipe. I'd hardly call that loaded. I also worked on lowering the amount of salt and sugar, and I believe those are important steps in making bottled dressings as healthy as possible.

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