Junk food has its name for a reason, but still, people find themselves drawn to an indulgence every once in a while. Some junk food isn't even worth a cheat meal, though. From highly processed corn dogs to synthetic coffee creamers, these are some of the worst junk foods available.
French Fries Are Linked to Inflammation
French fries are a crowd pleaser and one of the most popular junk foods around. While they may seem like the perfect snack or side, they should be consumed as infrequently as possible.
That's because deep-fried foods like french fries have been linked to inflammation and impaired artery function. This can have a negative impact on your heart health and more. Plus, they're extremely high in calories and fat, but have little nutritional benefits.
Frappuccinos Don't Fill You Up Like Meals Do
There are plenty of sugary coffee drinks out there, but frappuccinos are among the most unhealthy. They contain more sugar than many other coffee drinks to compensate for the ice that's blended into it.
Not to mention the whipped cream and extra caramel or chocolate sauce drizzled over the top. A Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino has over 500 calories and 65 carbs that are almost all from sugar. Even worse, drinking these calories doesn't fill you up the way eating them would, leading to overconsumption.
Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple Cheeseburger
Since it's in the name, the Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple Cheeseburger at Wendy’s contains three of their signature square hamburger patties. The burger is topped with warm beer cheese sauce, Applewood smoked bacon, smoky honey mustard, crispy fried onions, pickles, a slice of muenster cheese, and piled into a soft pretzel bun.
Anyone would think that is quite a mouthful. According to Fast Food Nutrition, this burger comes to a total of 1,520 calories, 106 grams of fat, 1,910 milligrams of sodium, and 53 grams of carbs. The Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple Cheeseburger happens to have the most amount of calories out of all the menu items at Wendy’s.
Deep-Fried Onions Are Full Of Unhealthy Fats
One of Outback Steakhouse's standout menu items is its famous Bloomin' Onion. These deep-fried onions are a classic, but they're also full of calories and unhealthy fats. One of these appetizers contains almost 2,000 calories, which is a full day's worth for many individuals.
They also have a stunning 154 grams of fat, including trans fats. Trans fats have been found to contribute to stomach fat, obesity, heart disease, and inflammation. Even a small portion of this snack can throw off a diet.
McDonald's Big Breakfast With Hotcakes
According to Global News, breakfast meals shouldn't exceed 400 calories. The Big Breakfast with Hotcakes meal at McDonald’s comes to a whopping 1,340 calories. The meal includes a couple of hotcakes, a biscuit, a sausage patty, scrambled eggs, hash browns, syrup, and butter. The McDonald’s website says that the saturated fat in this meal is 123 percent of the daily recommended amount.
It has 44 grams of fat, 2,090 milligrams of sodium, and 155 grams of carbs. This giant platter of breakfast foods has a lot more than the daily recommended amounts of fats, carbs, and sodium, so it should either be avoided or shared among others.
The In-N-Out 4×4 Cheeseburger
Something that can make fast food customers feel more exclusive is ordering off the secret menu. In-N-Out is one of the many fast food restaurants with a secret menu with items such as Animal Style French Fries and Neapolitan milkshakes. One of the most outrageous things on their secret menu is the 4×4.
This is a hamburger or cheeseburger with four patties. A 4×4 cheeseburger contains 1,050 calories, 70 grams of fat, 2,320 milligrams of sodium, and 11 grams of sugar. As far as health goes, ordering one of these should be a rare occasion, at best.
Pop-Tarts Have Three Types Of Unhealthy Sugar
While Pop-Tarts are a quick and delicious breakfast, they aren't great when it comes to your health. For one, they are highly processed and contain little in the way of nutritional benefits.
What they do contain is a large amount of sugar that includes refined white sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. Eating high amounts of fructose has been linked to certain diseases, like heart disease and diabetes. Consider this food an indulgent treat, not a daily breakfast.
Milkshakes Can Contribute To Insulin Resistance
Milkshakes are a delicious dessert, but it's easier now than ever to overdo it. Back in the day, milkshakes came in smaller sizes and were often shared. Now, one person can order a milkshake as part of their meal and it will be in a much larger container.
For instance, an Oreo milkshake from Burger King contains more than 700 calories and 121 carbs, most of which are from sugar! Consuming all of that sugar in a short amount of time can contribute to insulin resistance and other health problems.
Del Taco's Queso Loaded Nachos With Beef
Judging by the name of this dish, customers should know that it will be piled high with toppings. Del Taco's Queso Loaded Nachos with beef comes with refried beans, a creamy Queso Blanco sauce, sour cream, tomatoes, jalapeños, tortilla chips, and of course tons of beef chunks.
The large size of the nachos contains 1,060 calories, 55 grams of fat, 2,510 milligrams of sodium, and 100 grams of carbs. It’s recommended to only have a few chips of this unhealthy dish and share it among many others.
Some Sausage And Bacon Contains Carcinogens
Bacon and sausage are some of the most processed types of meat and often contain high levels of saturated fat, plus advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are inflammatory compounds that form when these meats are exposed to high heat.
Some bacon and sausage brands also contain nitrates and nitrites, which can become carcinogenic nitrosamines when put in high temperatures. Opt for brands that don't contain these ingredients and cook them at a moderate temperature.
Some Cereals Contain BHT And BHA
Cereals have gotten a bad rap more recently due to their high sugar content and refined grains. Some brands have switched to whole grains but are still sugary and contain other questionable ingredients.
Some varieties contain Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA). These ingredients are possibly carcinogenic, which is why they are banned in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the UK, and several countries in Europe. Be sure to check the ingredients list on your cereal.
BBQ Sauce Contains Unhealthy Sweeteners
Condiments can be sneaky because they don't seem very bad for you, but they can be the most unhealthy parts of certain meals. Take BBQ sauce for instance. It can make a normally sugar-free meal full of artificial sweetness.
For example, a serving of Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue Sauce contains 15 grams of sugar. You may as well pour sugar packets right onto your meat. It also contains high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to increased risk of heart disease.
Pancake Syrup Doesn't Even Contain Real Maple
When selecting a syrup to pour over your pancakes, be sure to check the ingredients list. Many top brands, such as Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth, don't even contain maple syrup.
Instead, they are made to look and taste like maple but with cheaper ingredients. They are often loaded with high fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring, both of which can be harmful to health. If you're going to have a sugary syrup, at least be sure there aren't other questionable ingredients.
Panera's Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese
It can be upsetting when things that taste so delicious are some of the unhealthiest things on the menu. One of Panera's most recent menu items is their Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese, which is a combination of their broccoli and cheddar soup and white cheddar mac & cheese.
When this dish is ordered in a bread bowl it contains 1,050 calories, 31 grams of fat, 2,290 milligrams of sodium, 155 grams of carbs, and eight grams of sugar. This equates to about an entire day’s worth of sodium and over half a day’s amount of carbs.
Frosting Is Made With Chemicals
It may seem like the worst thing about frosting is the high sugar content. After all, it's basically creamy sugar, right? Wrong. Frosting has various ingredients that could be harmful to your health.
This includes titanium dioxide and caramel color, both of which are possible carcinogens. It also contains propylene glycol, which researchers have linked to poor kidney health. Opt for a healthier brand or make frosting homemade to be sure it has a healthier ingredient list.
The Subway Chicken And Bacon Ranch Melt
There are endless combinations when it comes to Subway sandwiches. While this fast food chain is often thought of as one of the healthier options, they still have a decent amount of unhealthy sandwiches. One of the worst menu items to order is the Chicken and Bacon Ranch Melt.
The foot-long Chicken and Bacon Ranch Melt with Italian herbs and cheese bread has 1,150 calories, 57 grams of fat, 2,580 milligrams of sodium, and 87 grams of carbs. The sandwich ingredients that really take it over the edge are the bacon, cheese, ranch dressing, and the bread roll.
Cinnamon Rolls Have An Excessive Amount Of Carbs
Cinnamon rolls are a classic breakfast staple, but they are much too indulgent to be a healthy part of a balanced diet. A Cinnabon roll contains almost 900 calories, while their Caramel Pecanbon has another 200 calories added on!
Calories aren't a bad thing so long as the food is nutrient-dense, but that's where cinnamon rolls fall flat. More than half of the 146 carbs in a Caramel Pecanbon come from added sugar!
DQ Blizzards Have More Than Half A Day's Worth Of Calories
Dairy Queen took the concept of a milkshake to the next level with their popular Blizzards. These treats are softer than ice cream, but still thick enough to need a spoon.
Getting all of that sweet creaminess means loading their Blizzards up with a ton of unhealthy ingredients, like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. As a result, these sweets have a ton of calories and even contain trans fats. A large Royal Reese's Brownie Blizzard Treat contains 1,510 calories!
Corn Dogs Are Highly Processed
Have you ever wondered what exactly is in a hot dog? The answer is a paste-like meat made from meat trimmings. It's no wondered that heavily processed meats as these are linked to an increased risk of colon cancer.
Corn dogs take the unhealthy impact of hot dogs a step further by wrapping them in cornmeal batter and deep-frying it. Between the high-fat oils and processed meat, corn dogs are just as indulgent as many desserts!
KFC Cheesy Bacon Bowl
KFC's Cheesy Bacon Bowl is packed with mashed potatoes, popcorn chicken, shredded cheese, corn, gravy, and of course, bacon bits. It’s an extremely savory menu item, basically packing in all your favorite KFC ingredients and topping it with bacon.
The fast food chain has yet to share the nutritional facts on the Cheesy Bacon Bowl– but for reference, the regular bowl on their menu weighs in at 680 calories, 280 calories from fat, and 2,130 milligrams of sodium. You can bet that this version, with more fixings, raises those numbers by quite a bit.
Frozen Pizza Has A Ton Of Questionable Ingredients
Pizza is known for not being very healthy, but some variations seem like they aren't that bad. Frozen pizzas make it easier to portion control and stick to a normal amount of calories for one meal.
Still, they contain plenty of other ingredients that make you better off ordering pizza. For instance, Red Baron's cheese pizza contains L-Cysteine hydrochloride, ammonium sulfate, BHT, and BHA. To top it off, there are also 720 milligrams of sodium per serving!
Little Caesars' Extramostbestest Italian Sausage Pizza
The FDA says that Americans eat about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, but the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends only eating no more than 2,300 milligrams. That can be equated to about one teaspoon of salt. The large Extramostbestest Italian sausage pizza at Little Caesars has 5,620 milligrams of sodium.
Not only does it have an above average sodium intake, but it also contains 2,660 calories, 128 grams of fat, and 252 grams of carbs. Little Caesars topped this pizza with a mozzarella and muenster cheese blend and made sure to include as much savory Italian sausage as possible.
Cheesecake Is High In Fat And Calories
Cheesecake combines two high-fat foods: cheese and cake. It is essentially high amounts of cream and sugar molded into a super indulgent dessert. Even the original cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory contains over 800 calories.
All of the other flavors are over 1,000 with additions like sauce, chocolate, nuts, and more. The original flavor also contains 58 grams of fat. Even if you were to share it with someone, that's still a lot per person.
The Taco Bell Grilled Cheese Burrito
Global News recommends that people eat between 500 and 700 calories for their lunch and dinner. Taco Bell's Grilled Cheese Burrito comes to a total of 710 calories. There are also 39 grams of fat, 1,490 milligrams of sodium, and 64 grams of carbs.
This giant burrito is filled with seasoned beef, nacho cheese sauce, a three-cheese blend, red tortilla chips, seasoned rice, sour cream, and chipotle sauce. While cheese lovers may want to try this dish, it is certainly one of the unhealthiest items on the Taco Bell menu.
The Burger King Triple Whopper With Cheese
The most popular menu item at Burger King has always been their signature hamburger, the Whopper. They took that idea and made it a lot less nutritious with the Triple Whopper with cheese. It's called a Triple Whopper because it contains three quarter-pound patties.
Fast Food Nutrition found that the Triple Whopper with cheese contains 1,216 calories and 60 percent of those calories come from fat. It also has 1,470 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbs, 4.5 grams of trans fats, and 32 grams of saturated fat.
Avoid Buying Pre-Made Trail Mix
According to The Healthy, many store-bought trail mixes are chalked full of sodium and sugar. The nuts may be heavily salted or roasted and the mix could include unhealthy chocolate or candy pieces.
Instead, it's best to make it yourself. You can control what will be included by adding some raw, unsalted nuts or goji berries.
Limit Your Ketchup Intake
According to Good Food Made Simple, for every tablespoon of ketchup, there's a teaspoon of sugar. It is very easy for someone to go overboard with it, especially when it’s being used as a dipping sauce.
The next time you’re shopping for ketchup, try picking up a sugar-free or natural version.
Sports Drinks Contain Artificial Dyes
It's well known that sports drinks can be counterintuitive since they contain high amounts of sugar. Even the sugar-free variations can contain questionable artificial sweeteners, making them just as unhealthy. However, there is another reason to question sports drinks.
They use artificial dyes to make their color match the flavor. While it's important to replace electrolytes, it shouldn't come with the price of potentially harmful ingredients. Instead, opt for a natural electrolyte supplement to add to water.
Restaurant Desserts Can Be High In Sodium
Restaurant desserts may seem like a healthier choice because their price point insinuates that they have high-quality ingredients. Even if they are made from scratch, they can still be less healthy than the cheap stuff at the grocery store.
Many restaurant desserts are made to be extra decadent, which means copious amounts of sugar, fat, and salt! For instance, California Pizza Kitchen's butter cake has 640 milligrams of sodium! Many diners don't even think about the sodium content in desserts.
Energy Drinks Can Corrode Teeth
Energy drinks are known for being full of questionable ingredients. They have high levels of caffeine that can be harmful when consumed in excess, especially over time. To top it off, they also contain either a ton of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
In case that wasn't bothersome enough, energy drinks are also terrible for your teeth. A study by the University of Maryland found energy drinks to be 11% more corrosive on teeth than soda!
Some Diet Ice Creams Contain Polysorbate 80
Like many diet foods, diet ice cream isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be. Being able to eat an entire pint of ice cream without going over your calorie quota may seem like a dream. However, there is more to consider than calorie, fat, and even sugar content.
Many diet ice creams rely on polysorbate 80 to get that creamy feel without the calories. However, this ingredient may cause low-grade inflammation, according to researchers at Georgia State University.
Some Coffee Creamers Are Loaded With Synthetic Additives
Coffee may seem like a low-calorie way to start the day, but that can go right out the window if you add the wrong kind of creamer to it. Many coffee creamers are full of questionable ingredients.
These can include sugar, soybean oil, and synthetic additives like mono and diglycerides. A good rule of thumb is the longer it lasts, the more preservatives it has. It'd be better to opt for the natural stuff.
The KFC Donut Sandwich
Adventurous eaters are in for something truly one-of-a-kind at KFC. They crafted a Donut Sandwich with two glazed donuts and a piece of fried chicken in the middle. Without knowing the nutrition facts it's pretty much a given that this sandwich will have a bunch of sugar and sodium.
One KFC Donut Sandwich has 1,100 calories, 65 grams of fat, 1,310 milligrams of sodium, 100 grams of carbs, and 40 grams of sugar. This may be a fun thing to get once in a while at a fair or carnival, but probably shouldn’t be eaten regularly.
Dairy Queen's Royal Rocky Road Trip Blizzard
The amount of sugar in this Dairy Queen treat is staggering. The Royal Rocky Road Trip Blizzard is made up of brownie pieces, peanuts, cocoa fudge, marshmallow, and vanilla soft serve ice cream. All in all, the large Royal Rocky Road Trip Blizzard contains 1,510 calories, 70 grams of fat, 770 milligrams of sodium, 199 grams of carbs, and 151 grams of sugar.
To put the amount of sugar this Blizzard has in perspective, there is more sugar in this than 15 Krispy Kreme glazed donuts. If you simply have to get a taste of it, try to get their smallest size.
The Chick-Fil-A Cobb Salad
Typically, salads are supposed to be a healthy meal, but there are quite a few fast food restaurants where that is simply not the case. The cobb salad at Chick-fil-A isn't actually that healthy, mainly due to the crispy chicken and avocado lime ranch dressing.
Their cobb salad has 850 calories, 61 grams of fat, 2,220 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbs, and nine grams of sugar. Since it’s recommended to only eat no more than 700 calories during lunch and dinner, this salad isn’t a healthy meal option.
Sonic Oreo Peanut Butter Shake
Not only is the Sonic Oreo Peanut Butter Shake one of the unhealthiest fast food items in America, but it's also one of the least healthy around the world. A large serving contains 1,720 calories, 104 grams of fat, 1,040 milligrams of sodium, 172 grams of carbs, and 111 grams of sugar.
While Sonic milkshakes are one of their most popular menu items, they are filled with all kinds of unhealthy ingredients. One Sonic Oreo Peanut Butter Shake has more than enough calories, fat, sodium, carbs, and sugar for an entire day.
The Pei Wei Chicken Pad Thai
There's a fast food restaurant for almost any type of cuisine. Pei Wei specializes in various Asian-inspired dishes. One of their unhealthiest menu items is the Chicken Pad Thai. It has steamed white meat chicken, rice noodles, scrambled egg, bean sprouts, scallions, peanuts, cilantro, and a Thai sweet and sour sauce.
A bowl of their Chicken Pad Thai contains 1,490 calories, 42 grams of fat, 4,720 milligrams of sodium, 167 grams of carbs, and 52 grams of sugar. Customers who decide to order this dish should be aware of the excessive amount of sodium inside.
Popeyes Cajun Fries
French fries can be a delicious compliment to a burger or sandwich, but keeping up with a healthy diet means limiting fast food. The Cajun Fries from Popeyes are one of the unhealthiest fast food fries. A large size has 804 calories, 42 grams of fat, 1,761 milligrams of sodium, and 97 grams of carbs.
Knowing that an entire lunch or dinner shouldn't exceed 700 calories means that these fries alone are more calories than a typical meal. Luckily, Popeyes has some healthier side options such as green beans or coleslaw.
White Castle Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
Fast food side dishes can really add to the unhealthy sodium, fat, and sugar intake that some may forget about while eating. The White Castle mozzarella cheese sticks are one of the worst fast food items in the United States. A pack of 10 contains 1,490 calories, 111 grams of fat, 3,110 milligrams of sodium, and 77 grams of carbs.
Eating just the side of the mozzarella sticks is almost the entire recommended amount of calories per day and over the recommended amount of fat and sugar. Customers should avoid this menu item at all costs.
El Pollo Loco's Chipotle Chicken Avocado Burrito
Unfortunately, burritos are one of the least nutritious foods available. The tortilla usually provides enough carbs and fat for the day. The Chipotle Chicken Avocado Burrito at El Pollo Loco is no exception. This burrito includes a foot-long tortilla, rice, cabbage, salsa, avocado, shredded cheese, pinto beans, chicken, and sour cream.
Although the ingredients don't seem too bad, the burrito has 870 calories, 39 grams of fat, 2,260 milligrams of sodium, and 84 grams of carbs. Opting for a salad or using a lettuce wrap instead of a tortilla can be a healthier alternative.
Pick Romaine Over Other Kinds of Lettuce
Even our choices in lettuce can affect us. More than iceberg, Boston, or other types of lettuce, Romaine contains the most folate.
Folic acid is crucial to healthy brain function and has been reported to play a role in physical and mental health. It can also help with depression and mental fatigue.