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VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Jesse Singer
These foods and drinks taste great...but are slowly killing you. For this list, we'll be looking at food and drink that scientific studies have deemed detrimental to one's health. Our countdown includes Red Meat, Alcohol, Artificial Sweeteners, and more!

#10: Red Meat

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It’s been said that eating too much red meat is bad for you, but a study by the Harvard Medical School put actual numbers to those claims. According to the researchers, eating just one extra meal of red meat per day increased a person’s risk of death by 13%. And that’s just for the unprocessed meats. When it comes to processed red meat we’re talking up around 20%. While giving up red meat entirely is probably not a bad idea, that’s an almost impossible feat for many of us. However, substituting one red meat serving per day with things like nuts or lentils or even fish or chicken can - according to the researchers - possibly reduce the risk of death by 7-19%.

#9: Salt

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We all know that a little salt brings out the flavors in many a meal. And without salt there never would’ve been a Salt Bae (although that might just be another argument against the stuff). But that being said, watching your salt intake and avoiding foods with a high sodium count is a very good idea. And you don’t just have to take our word for it, as there are studies and numbers that back it up. One such study, which looked at the diets of people in 195 countries over 27 years concluded that a high sodium diet was one of the top three leading “dietary risk factors for deaths.”

#8: Sugary Snacks & Cereals

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Regardless of what Tony the Tiger told us, starting our day with sugar isn’t Gr-r-reat! In fact, sugar in general can actually have a pretty significant detrimental effect on our potential lifespan - so says a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Put simply, this 15-year study concluded that those who ingested “25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar”. And if you were hoping that your gender, age or physical fitness would save you - none of that had any effect on the numbers.

#7: Alcohol

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Excessive drinking can have some rather funny and embarrassing consequences. But it can also lead to very dire ones for those getting behind the wheel while drunk or for those in the path of someone driving while intoxicated. However, the shortened lifespan due to alcohol isn’t only associated with drunk driving. Excessive drinking - which the CDC defines as binge drinking or 8+ drinks per week for women and 15+ for men - can lead to serious longterm consequences to one's health. These range from high blood pressure and heart disease to memory issues and a weakening of the immune system. The organization also warns that the risk of some cancers increases with as little as one drink a day.

#6: Energy Drinks

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Everyone can use a boost now and again. But is an energy drink the best way to get it? Probably not. But is it harmful? The truth is that it can be. An energy drink every now and then is probably fine, but regular and especially excessive consumption might get you into trouble. Depending on the drink, consuming just two can take you beyond 400 milligrams of caffeine (the recommended daily limit for adults). Energy drinks have been shown to raise blood pressure and heart rates. And according to Dr. John Higgins from the University of Texas Health Science Center, “There’s been several cases described of people that have gone into cardiac arrest after consuming more than one energy beverage.”

#5: Fried Foods

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Look, we love fried food as much as the next guy or girl, but the truth is that eating lots of it can cause serious health problems as well as an early death. A huge analysis of multiple studies across hundreds of thousands of people determined that those who ate the most fried foods had a 28% higher chance of having heart problems. Also, each 4-ounce serving of fried food per week increased a person’s risk factor by 3%. According to the Mayo Clinic website, there is research suggesting that the daily consumption of fried fish or chicken by women over 60 increased their risk of death by 13%. We can only assume it’s similar for men.

#4: Hot Dogs

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You might’ve heard about this study back in 2021 published in the journal Nature Food that looked at over 5,000 foods and calculated the amount of life time lost or gained by eating each one. The researchers created a health index based on the Global Burden of Disease study which, according to CNN “measures morbidity associated with a person’s food choices.” We won’t get into all the details, but the index calculated that each beef hotdog and bun consumed led to 36 minutes of healthy life lost. On the plus side, 0.1 minutes of healthy life are gained per each gram of fruit you eat. So, maybe throw a few grapes on your hotdog to balance things out a little.

#3: Artificial Sweeteners

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So it might seem that, since sugar is so bad for you, a smart move would be to switch over to various artificial sweeteners. The problem with that is - artificial sweeteners are just as bad for you… if not worse. One 2019 study published in the journal Circulation didn’t mince words with its finding that linked artificially sweetened beverages to premature death. Also, one of the most popular artificial sweeteners, aspartame, was recently flagged by the World Health Organization. Although it’s been deemed safe for human consumption, in 2023 WHO recommended against its use based on a systematic review suggesting that long term use could lead to an “increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.”

#2: Processed Food

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When the Philadelphia 76ers set a system in place to reverse their losing ways, fans were told to “trust the process.” However, when it comes to various food items we probably ‘shouldn't trust the processed.’ Awesome dad joke aside, there is growing evidence to suggest the negative effects on our health from the consumption of overly-processed foods. A study published in JAMA International Medicine defined ultra processed foods as “food products that contain multiple ingredients and are manufactured through a multitude of industrial processes.” Examples being “mass-produced and packaged snacks… confectioneries, ready-made meals, and processed meats”. What researchers found was that a 10% increase in one’s intake of ultra processed foods correlated to a “14% higher risk of all-cause mortality.”

#1: Soda

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The Coca-Cola company had an ad campaign in the 1970s which included the song “I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke.” Well, if they’d actually done that every day since then, there’s a very good chance the world’s population would be significantly lower. And if you thought that switching from regular to diet soda was going to make everything better, we have some bad news for you… it isn’t. A study published in 2019 in JAMA International Medicine looked at the link between mortality and soft drinks in 10 European countries and the findings are kinda scary. As little as one serving per day led to an elevated risk of mortality. And this was true for both “sugar-sweetened, and artificially sweetened soft drinks.”

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