8 foods to avoid in 2014

Today is New Year’s Eve. And I’m all in favor of making smart, practical New Year’s resolutions. After all, why make a resolution if you can’t stick to it all year long? Remember, everything in moderation. So this year, I suggest making a sensible resolution to avoid these seven foods in 2014:

1. Canned tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene. This nutrient helps protect you against cancer and cardiovascular disease. And it’s good for the brain, eyes, and healthy aging.

But in 2014, avoid canned tomatoes altogether. Most manufacturers today coat the insides of their tin cans with bisphenol-A (BPA). And evidence now links this synthetic estrogen to reproductive problems, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Plus, the tomatoes’ natural acidity causes BPA to leach into your food. In fact, every can of tomatoes contains up to 50 micrograms of BPA. This toxin can accumulate to a level in the body that actually causes chromosomal damage. And this kind of exposure can cause permanent damage to children.

Glass bottles and jars are fine. You can also find whole, chopped, and pureed tomatoes in “tetrapak” boxes. I recommend the Pomi brand. You can find them in lots of stores, including Trader Joe’s.

2. Commercial corn

Today’s corn is nutritionally deprived. And a far cry from the colorful varieties grown by Native Americans. Plus, most corn sold at regular grocery stores is genetically altered. In fact, almost 90 percent of all the corn grown in the U.S. today is genetically modified.

If you can find organic corn, that’s a better option. Also, look for ears of corn with the deepest color. (The deeper a vegetable’s color the more nutrients it contains.)

3.  Microwaveable popcorn

You may think microwaveable popcorn is a “healthy snack.” But don’t be fooled.

Microwaves cause the chemicals in the bags to vaporize and migrate into the popcorn kernels. Then, the chemicals accumulate in your body. And they can stay there for years.

Some evidence links the chemicals in microwave popping bags to infertility. As well as to liver, pancreatic, and testicular cancers. Chemical manufacturers promised to remove these chemicals by 2015 under a voluntary agreement with EPA. But millions of these popcorn bags will still be sold before then.

Pop organic kernels the old-fashioned way…in a skillet. You can add some real butter and dried spices. To add a little healthy and delicious fat, you can also use organic coconut oil.

4.  Potatoes

Eating a potato every once in a while isn’t going to harm you. But don’t make it a regular habit. Technically, potatoes are complex carbs. But they act more like simple sugars in the body. And they cause spikes and drops in sugar, insulin, and energy.

When and if you do eat potatoes, make sure they’re organic. They cost about $1 to $2 more per pound than conventional potatoes. But they’re well worth the occasional splurge.

Most conventionally grown potatoes go through intense chemical treatments. As root vegetables, potatoes absorb herbicides, pesticides and fungicides that are present in the soil. Then, during the growing season, conventional farmers treat potatoes with a fresh round of fungicides. Next, they spray the potatoes with herbicides to kill off the vines before harvesting. Finally, after they dig up the potatoes, they spray them again. This time to keep them from sprouting.

So, try to get your potatoes to sprout by storing them in a dark pantry. If you can’t get a potato to sprout, you shouldn’t put it in your mouth.

5. Farm-raised fish

I often report on the health benefits of eating fish and following the Mediterranean diet. And of course, fish is a significant part of the diet. But you have to be very careful about what kind of fish you buy. And avoid farm-raised fish altogether.

Fish farms cram salmon, for example, into small pens. They feed them soy, poultry droppings, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers and waste. Plus, farmed salmon contains just a small fraction of vitamin D compared to wild-caught salmon. And it has high levels of contaminants, such as brominated fire retardants, dioxin, and DDT.

Some of the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe. So put away those romantic images of the Scottish fens and Scandinavian fjords. Experts estimate that you can probably eat farmed salmon twice a year without accumulating contaminants in your body. But any more than that and you’re playing with fire.

So, it’s best to avoid farmed fish altogether. Stick with wild-caught salmon instead. The package should say “wild-caught Alaska salmon.” (If the package just says “fresh” Atlantic salmon that means it comes from a farm. Sadly, there are no wild-caught salmon from the Atlantic anymore.)

6. Milk

Nowadays, you see lots of milk mustaches on celebrities. And even on former Health and Human Services Secretaries. They make it seem like you have to drink milk to be healthy. But the truth is, humans don’t need to drink milk beyond infancy. (And even then, cow’s milk isn’t the best option.)

Like most beef, regular milk contains loads of artificial hormones. In fact, many milk producers treat their dairy cattle with synthetic recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to boost milk production. This practice increases udder infections. And puts pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of the hormone insulin-like growth factor in milk. Which may contribute to glandular cancers, like breast, colon, and prostate cancers.

If you enjoy milk, try to buy it raw. Of course, in many nanny states, local bureaucrats think they have to protect us from bacteria in raw milk that we have not seen since the 1920s. But hey, it’s still a living, having a bunch of bureaucrats enforcing outdated 100-year-old regulations still on the books.

My daughter crosses state lines regularly to get raw milk. (So far, it’s not a federal offense.) The raw milk has done wonders for her. And her regular doctor has seen the results and encourages her. If you don’t live in or near a “free” state, at least go for organic milk without artificial hormones.

7.  Soybeans

More than 90 percent of the soybeans grown around the world today are genetically modified (GM). And they put GM soybeans in everything. Soy adds texture, bulk, and protein. So, you find GM soy protein hidden in lots of processed foods–from cereal bars to corn chips to chicken nuggets.

Stay away from anything that contains GM soy or soybeans. Even so-called “healthy” veggie burgers and soy milk. GM soy affects your hormonal balance. And it may even increase your risk of cancer.

Fermented soy is the only kind of soy you should ever consider eating. You find fermented soy in traditional foods like tofu, tempeh, and soy sauce. But make sure to buy brands made with organic soybeans. Otherwise, you can guarantee they used GM soybeans to make their products.

So, that’s all there is to today’s no-nonsense New Year’s resolution. Pretty easy, right? Simply keep those seven foods out of your kitchen and you’ll be off to a great, sensible start in 2014. And for a good guide to the rest of a healthy diet, see my “Top of the Food Chain Diet” report written with my daughter. Subscribers to my Insiders’ Cures newsletter receive this report for free. If you don’t yet subscribe to Insiders’ Cures, now is the perfect time to get started.