3 Foods You Should Never Eat in 2014
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The Fiscal Times
January 1, 2014

It’s a New Year and a big chunk of the American population has decided to go on a diet – again.

Forty-five percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions – and 38 percent of their resolutions are weight related, according to StatisticBrain.com. Losing weight actually tops the list of most frequent resolutions, while “staying fit and healthy” clocks in at number five:

Top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2014:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Get Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Stay Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family

It’s no wonder so many of us vow to get our weight under control, with Big Macs and Triple Whoppers, cakes, cookies and other high-fat desserts tempting us constantly. And to slosh it all down, there are mega-bottles of sugary, high-calorie drinks on every countertop.

Related:  10 Forbidden Fast Foods We Can't Resist

It’s not just our weight that’s at risk – it’s our long-term health. High-fat, high-calorie foods and beverages add on the pounds and can lead to obesity and related diseases.

As the New Year gets underway, here are three (of many) foods we should reject as we aim to reach for more green leafy veggies, quinoa, muesli, organic fruits, lean proteins and other healthier choices:

Cheese Fries
They’re tasty, but cheese fries are “loaded with artery clogging fat,” said nutritionist and dietician Janet Blum of northern N.J. “Anything fried is already loaded with fat – but add the cheese, which is high in saturated fat, and you’re adding calories and fat to an already fried food. Yikes,” she added.

A much better choice of starch – and the best starches are rich in fiber, B vitamins, calcium, potassium and phosphorus – would be bread or pasta that’s made with whole grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oats.

Hot Dogs
Most dogs, the kind we love at ballparks and barbecues, are loaded with nitrites and nitrates, compounds that extend their shelf life and buff up their color. Nitrites and nitrates can form nitrosamines once we digest them – and those substances have been linked to cancer in test animals. “A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave,” nutritionist and educator Susan Levin explained. “Processed meats like hot dogs can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.”

If you crave meat, go instead for lean protein – chicken (without the skin), pork, white-meat turkey and fresh fish.

Microwave Popcorn
Chemicals abound in this food (which shouldn’t even be called a food). Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) lines the popcorn bag and is part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a UCLA study. In animal testing, the chemicals caused liver, testicular and pancreatic cancer – and once the popcorn is microwaved, the chemicals can get into the popcorn. “They stay in your body for years,” Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, told Prevention. (DuPont and other manufacturers have said they’ll phase out PFOA by 2015.)

If you can’t live without this snack, pop natural kernels in a skillet – and skip the butter.

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Managing Editor Maureen Mackey oversees scheduling and work flow and also writes and edits features and reports. She spent more than 20 years as a senior book and features editor at Reader’s Digest.