5 Healthy Foods that are Harmful in Higher Amounts

HomeFood & Fitness5 Healthy Foods that are Harmful in Higher Amounts
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Virtually every healthy food and drink has a breaking point where if you consume too much, it can be unhealthy. Taken to the extreme, a California woman died in 2007 of water intoxication after participating in a contest to see how much water she could drink. Yet water is essential for life. There are a number of foods that have health benefits in moderation, but eating too much could pose problems. As the popular dietary saying goes, “Everything in moderation.” Those are words to live by, even with the following “good” foods.


5. Orange, Grapefruit and Other Fruit Juices

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Orange juice and grapefruit juice are rich sources of vitamin C and fiber and have been shown to prevent inflammation. Now for the downside. These juices can contain almost as much sugar, and more calories, than a soft drink. They can affect the potency of many medications, including antibiotics. Another issue has emerged in recent years, as more studies are looking at the negative impact of citrus juice consumption on dental health. In one study by the University of Rochester Medical Center, researchers found orange juice “markedly decreased hardness and increased roughness of tooth enamel.” In fact, the study found juice decreased enamel hardness by 84 percent. The researchers said that could pose a problem for anyone who consumes juice on a daily basis. One way to avoid or limit potential damage is to use a straw. Finally, here is a very contrarian story by The Atlantic questioning how it ever became accepted as almost gospel that fruit juices are universally good for a person. Hint: Citrus fruit interests had a role in the public adopting that mindset.


4. Nuts

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The problem with nuts is they are delicious, yet even a small serving is loaded with calories — a bad combination. One popular brand of almonds contains 1,080 calories in a six-ounce can. That’s about the size of a tennis ball. Broken down, that’s about six calories per nut. It is far too easy for many people to eat a few handfuls of nuts without realizing the amount of calories they are consuming. Granted, one 2012 study showed that the body may actually absorb a third less calories than are suggested on nut nutritional labels. Even with that caveat they are still a calorie-rich food that should be consumed in moderation. Nuts are loaded in anti-oxidants and nutrients, and are a good source of fiber.


3. Fish

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The mercury-related warnings about eating too much fish have been out there so long now they’re not a surprise anymore to most people, but they bear repeating here. Fish accumulate mercury in their bodies, and certain fish should be avoided for that reason. The FDA recommends consumers avoid swordfish, king mackerel, shark and Gulf tilefish, and the government is considering adding two other fish, marlin and orange roughy, to the “avoid” list. In addition, public health officials recommend people limit their intake of grouper, Chilean sea bass, halibut, and fresh tuna (except skipjack). So-called “good,” or low-mercury seafood include wild and Alaska salmon, tilapia, sardines and shrimp, scallops and oysters. Fish is a valuable source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can boost brain health and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week.


2. Avocados

© William Boncher

This fruit is loaded with health benefits. It’s high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which are good for cardiovascular health. It contains almost two-dozen vitamins and minerals and is a good source of fiber and potassium. It also has antioxidant properties. The drawback is the surprisingly high calorie count. Because it is a fruit, many people probably assume it is a low-calorie food. But one avocado contains 250 to 300 calories. That’s probably not a problem for an occasional salad. If you’re standing there eating chip after chip loaded with guacamole at a party or your visit to the Mexican restaurant, you’re taking in a lot of calories — and potentially more from the guac than the chips.


1. Coffee and Tea

Caffeine is a thermogenic, which helps boost metabolism.

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One week a study comes out saying caffeine is good for you, the next week, another esteemed report highlights the supposed harmful effects. Research in the area remains mixed. An oft-cited 2012 National Institutes of Health study on caffeine use essentially determined that people who drink coffee are less likely to die sooner than those who do not drink coffee. Yet the study’s authors noted that, “the association between coffee consumption and the risk of death remains unclear.” However, the potential dangers of caffeine have been well established. Those include an irregular or rapid heartbeat and insomnia. How much coffee is too much? That answer might depend on your age, body mass and other factors, but as a rule, the Mayo Clinic recommends adults drink no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. That’s the equivalent of about four 8-ounce cups.


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