Written by Denise Tam, Holistic Nutritionist
- Processed Meat
Meats preserved by smoking, curing, salting or that contain chemical preservatives (read the ingredients list!) are linked to an increased risk of colon and pancreatic cancer. Most of these meats are manufactured with a carcinogenic ingredient known as sodium nitrite, which turns meats into a bright red color so they look fresh. After reviewing more than 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) declared that consumers should stop buying and eating all processed meat products.
Read more about Hong Kong’s Top 3 cancers
Other than the fact that it has ZERO nutritional benefit, sodas are also loaded with calories, sugar and artificial ingredients. One can of soda contains the equivalent of ten packets of sugar, creating an obvious link to obesity. If that’s not enough to stop you from drinking these sugar drinks, a study from the University of Minnesota found that people who drank as little as two soft drinks a week faced almost double the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Opt for Kombucha instead if you're looking for a fizzy drink. Kombucha has beneficial bacterial, probiotics, that can help keep your gut healthy.
- Trans Fat/Fried Foods
Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation which makes the oil less likely to spoil. High temperatures used to bake our pastries, cookies, cakes etc typically cause the formation of carcinogenic substances like acrylamide, which is also found in cigarettes.
Be aware of what nutritional labels really mean. For example, in Hong Kong if a food has less than 0.3 grams of trans fat per 100g/ml, the food label can read ‘0 grams trans fat’. How do you know whether food contains trans fat? Look for the words ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’ in the ingredients list.
Need a healthy snack? Try popped lotus seeds that are popped not fried in either olive oil or coconut oil.
- Farmed Salmon / Seafood
According to David Carpenter, M.D., director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany, farmed salmon is not only lower in Vitamin D (and omega 3 fatty acid) than wild-caught, but also higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCB’s, pesticides including DDT etc. “You can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” Carpenter stated.
If you’re choosing wild over farmed, be sure to also go for the smaller fish which would carry less heavy metals and toxins. Fish like cod and sardines.
- Canned and Plastic Bottles
The lining of most canned foods contains bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical that acts as an estrogen and disrupts hormonal activity in the body. Studies show that BPA, also found in plastic containers may be linked to heart disease, intestinal damage, infertility and infant development. Be sure to avoid all oils packaged in plastic bottles as oils are more prone to leaching BPA from plastic as well as any baby foods packaged in plastic.