Foods that are heavily processed or high in fat, sugar or sodium, such as hot dogs, doughnuts and potato chips, are frequently unhealthy. This category also includes movie theater popcorn, soda, frozen dinners, canned soups and store-bought cookies. Healthy diets typically include foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains instead.
A diet full of unhealthy foods can contribute to numerous diseases. Hot dogs and other processed meats increase the risk of developing colon cancer. Doughnuts typically contain high levels of fat, which can contribute to heart disease. Potato chips contain a carcinogen called acrylamide that is formed due to cooking potatoes at high temperatures and can increase the risk of developing numerous types of cancer.
Processed foods advertised as being low-fat might sound healthy, but they are frequently still harmful. Many food companies replace the fat in their low-fat products with high levels of salt or sugar instead, as a way of ensuring the food still tastes good. However, salt and sugar are unhealthy in large quantities.
Similarly, margarine is sometimes advertised as a healthy alternative to butter, but this is not accurate. Margarine typically contains high levels of trans fats, which can harm blood vessel walls and raise cholesterol levels.