Everyday American Foods That Are Banned in Other Countries
Knowing what to eat can be tough. It seems like every day, experts are changing their minds about what’s healthy and what isn’t. Eggs are bad — until they're good. Wine is healthy, and then it's not.
But the 30 foods on this list — all banned in various countries across the world — should be taken off of your shopping list. From known carcinogens to chemicals used in the manufacturing of rubber, they contain additives that you don’t want on your dinner table.
Boxed Mac 'n' Cheese
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is about as American as a food can get: easy-to-make, salty and totally fluorescent. It's also pretty delicious, and no matter how hard you might try, you just can't replicate that flavor at home.
We chew gum when we want to freshen our breath after a garlicky meal. We chew gum when we're in an awkward social situation and need something to do. We chew gum when we're hungry, but not quite ready to eat yet. We even chew gum when we're bored.
Toaster pastries, bagels, cereals, muffins — what do all of these things have in common? In addition to being breakfast foods, they often contain blueberries. Or do they? Turns out, those "blueberry" breakfast treats you're buying may not contain any actual blueberries at all.
Azodicarbonamide! That's what magicians yell right before they pull the rabbit out of the hat, right? Actually, it's a chemical substance that may induce asthma and skin sensitivities. It's often referred to as the "yoga mat" chemical due to its widespread use in foamed plastics.
Pre-packaged Ground Beef
Ground beef is about as natural as you can get, right? It comes straight from the cow, and nothing else gets mixed in with it. Well, not exactly. Next time you pick up a package of ground meat for your family's dinner, take a look at the label.
Unless you're making your own chocolate milk at home, steer clear. Many commercially produced varieties are loaded with artificial flavors and additives (not to mention tons of sugar). Of particular concern are brands that contain carrageenan — a type of seaweed used to thicken foods and beverages.
Unless you're an endurance athlete, there’s really no reason you should be drinking most sports drinks. Why? Because they’re designed to replenish electrolytes in people who have been very, very active — and as such, they’re loaded with sugar and sodium.
Who doesn't love a toaster pastry in the morning? Nice and warm, straight from the toaster. Crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. And the flavors — frosted strawberry, brown sugar cinnamon, s'mores. They seem like the perfect busy-morning breakfast. But wait a minute.
Taste the rainbow...of food dyes? Skittles contain a bevy of artificial colors. The dyes, which are used in everything from breakfast cereal to ice cream to candies in the U.S., have dozens of known health risks.
There are lots of reasons you might choose to not eat pork products. For example, pork is high in cholesterol and saturated fat, and pork liver is a top food-based transmitter of hepatitis E in the United States. Plus, pigs are kind of cute.
Despite the bad rap sugar receives, sugarcane can be reasonably good for you. When pressed into a juice, it's known to act as a natural diuretic, cleanse the liver and aid digestion. Most surprisingly, it's said to be suitable for people with diabetes, as it doesn’t alter blood glucose levels as drastically.
Genetically Modified Vegetables
The verdict is still out on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but many people agree that it might be best to just stay away. Why? Because research on the long-term health effects of GMOs is virtually non-existent. Experts believe they may be linked to allergic reactions, antibiotic resistance, cancer and other conditions.
Instant Mashed Potatoes
Why are instant mashed potatoes bad for you? First, they have more sodium than real potatoes. Second, they have less dietary fiber and vitamin C (although some products do use additives to compensate).
Little Debbie Swiss Rolls
Little Debbie may look sweet and innocent, but she's hiding a sinister secret: Her snacks are full of unhealthy ingredients. While Swiss Rolls aren't the worst of her treats (we're looking at you, Honey Buns!), they're near the top.
No ice cream sundae is complete without a maraschino cherry on top. That's a fact. Unfortunately, it might be better to just do without. Not only are they low in vitamins and other nutrients (they lose them during the blanching process), but they have nearly three times the calories and sugar as regular cherries.
Like Skittles, you can find M&Ms overseas, but they're not exactly the same product. For example, the M&Ms sold in the United Kingdom contain the colors E100 and carmine — not the typical additives you'd see on this side of the pond. Why is that?
Arby's Sourdough Breakfast Bread, Croissant and French Toast Sticks
As far as fast food restaurants go, Arby's isn't all that bad. Their most popular item, the roast beef sandwich, is recognized as an "extra-lean" cut of meat by the FDA, which means it could have some health advantages compared to those double cheeseburgers the other guys serve.
There was a time back in the ‘90s when Snackwells treats were all the rage: You couldn't go anywhere without seeing the low-fat snacks. Today, dozens of different products (from potato chips to cakes) come in low-fat varieties — but you should probably steer clear of them.
You may find salmon a surprising addition to this list. After all, the fish is rich in antioxidants, a good source of protein and high in omega-3s. And salmon is good for you — if you eat the right kind. According to experts, wild Alaskan salmon is ideal.
It should come as no shock that Mountain Dew is banned in several countries. Have you seen that almost fluorescent chartreuse hue? Still, Americans seem to love it as much for its outrageous caffeine content as they do for its neon green color.
Chicken is good for you. It has a high protein content, is low in fat and is chock full of calcium and phosphorus. Plus, its tryptophan and vitamin B5 are stress relievers. Unfortunately, not all chickens are created equally.
Rice is generally considered a fairly healthy food (unless you're counting carbs). It's low in fat and packed full of vitamins and minerals, like vitamin E, thiamine and potassium. In addition, brown rice is full of fiber and isn’t associated with weight gain.
Many people have a love/hate relationship with bread. They love it because it's comforting and chewy and delicious. But they hate it because it's loaded with carbs. And, unfortunately, some of it is also loaded with potassium bromate.
If you were lucky as a child, your parents let you have "fun" cereals. You know what we mean: Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms, Cap'n Crunch. The stuff with cartoons on the outside of the box and toys on the inside.
Some people joke that black coffee is the preferred drink of psychopaths. And it's no wonder: Choking down a cup of the bitter brew without sugar or cream is rough if you’re not used to it. But what if you found out your favorite creamer was bad for you or might even cause heart disease?
Ever wonder why the apples you get in the store are so shiny and smooth, while the ones you pick in the orchard are dull and rough? It's because store-bought apples are glossed up using a mix of chemicals designed to keep them looking fresher longer.
Turkey is good. Cranberry sauce is tasty. And candied yams? Amazing. But let's be honest here: The real star of the Thanksgiving table is the stuffing. Savory, herby and buttery — it's pure perfection.
Milk. It does a body good. Or does it? As it turns out, it's not that simple. Milk does have lots of bone-boosting calcium and plenty of vitamins and minerals. But some U.S. farms use rBST, which is banned in several other countries.
Frozen Dairy Desserts
Imagine a hot, sunny summer day. You're outside playing with the kids, and the ice cream man comes around. What does everyone want? A strawberry shortcake? A snowcone? Perhaps an ice cream cone? We know those treats are delicious, but think twice about what you choose.
As with many other items on this list, Wheat Thins are likely a product you thought was healthy. They're certainly marketed that way. They’re the more "health-conscious" alternative to traditional crackers, right? But while they’re 100% whole grain, that doesn't necessarily mean they're a healthy choice.