There is such a thing as healthy fast food — but it’s likely not always going to be your first choice. Most places you go, you’ll find food with questionable ingredients on the menu. The most dangerous part of your fast food order isn’t the meat or the cheese or even the sauce. It’s just one of many additions to your meal you’d be much healthier without.
These are the most harmful ingredients commonly used at your favorite fast food restaurants. One of them probably isn’t something you even considered before.
When exposed to extremely high heat, processed meats like bacon or hot dogs can produce compounds that have been known to increase cancer risk. Some foods contain nitrites naturally, but they don’t become carcinogenic unless cooked at very high temperatures.
6. Food dyes and artificial flavors
Artificial colors and flavors are just what they sound like — and they’re not much better for you than their names imply. Certain food dyes for example, though generally recognized as safe by the FDA, have the potential to increase cancer risk in some people.
5. Saturated fat
Not all fat is bad fat. Too much saturated fat, however, isn’t an ingredient you should indulge in too loosely. It’s bad for your cholesterol, no matter how much you love it.
High levels of bad cholesterol in your blood can cause a buildup of something called plaque in the arteries of your heart. Over time, this could lead to a heart attack or stroke. These things don’t always kill their victims, but it’s a real possibility.
You probably don’t need reminding — but here it is anyway. Too much salt is a terrible idea. It raises your blood pressure and can cause major damage to your heart. Yes, it makes basically anything taste better, but the tradeoff probably isn’t worth the pleasure (really).
High blood pressure increases your risk of many potentially deadly diseases, including ones you wouldn’t expect, such as diabetes and dementia.
3. Added sugar
This type of sugar might actually be worse for you than both salt and saturated fat. When you eat too much of it, you’re not leaving room for healthier foods. You’re also increasing your risk of heart disease and possibly destroying your liver.
Sugar is, in its own way, a toxic ingredient that can cause you harm if you aren’t careful. It’s not just in milkshakes — you’ll find it in cheeseburgers, pizza, and even some salads.
2. Trans fat
There are plenty of foods out there still made with trans fats, but definitely not as many as there used to be. Companies are now required to gradually start removing them from their products, since they’re not technically safe for humans to consume.
1. The wrapping
It’s not an ingredient in the food itself, but it still might be the most dangerous part of your fast food order. It turns out some food wrappers and other containers contain potentially harmful chemicals that could end up in your food — and in your body.
Consuming these chemicals in large amounts might increase your risk for multiple types of cancer and other negative health outcomes.