When it comes to eating healthy foods, the mantra seems to be “the more you can get, the better.”
Without a doubt, maintaining a clean diet will keep you healthier, longer. But when it comes to certain foods, you may be surprised to know that eating more may actually be worsefor you.
Here’s a list of eight of those healthy foods you want to avoid overeating.
You may be most familiar with culinary seaweed as the sticky wrapper on a California roll. But dried sea veggies like kelp, nori and dulse have become popular for their deep green phytonutrients and as a good source of iodine.
However, the source can be too good.
Iodine is an essential trace mineral that supports a healthy thyroid, but with a recommended daily intake (RDI) of 150mcg for adults, it’s easy to get too much. There are 100 – 200mcg of iodine in just one teaspoon of kelp flakes. Iodine overdose can lead to thyrotoxicosis, or an overactive thyroid. This can cause sudden, unintentional weight loss, irregular heartbeat, excessive perspiration, anxiety, and irritability.
Although it’s been widely debated, raw fruit does not cause blood sugar spikes, even in diabetics. It’s also practically impossible to overdose on vitamins—like potassium in bananas—from eating too much fruit.
So, what’s wrong with eating tons of fruit?
Fruit is full of fiber, and can cause either constipation or diarrhea when eaten in excess. Fruit is also lacking in iron, selenium, and essential fatty acids, which is why a “fruitarian” diet is not recommended for optimal health.
Kale is another king of phytonutrients that people are juicing, sautéing, and baking in droves. However, it contains nutrients that are considered goitrogenic—meaning they interfere with healthy thyroid hormone production. Many cruciferous vegetables are goitrogenic, including broccoli and cauliflower. Without variety and in excess, these vegetables can cause a low thyroid response, which leads to weight gain, mood swings and depression.
4. Carrots and Tomatoes
Carrots are high in beta-carotene, the carotenoid responsible for the bright orange color in the vegetable and as a pre-cursor to producing vitamin A in the human body. Beta-carotene is good for you, but too much can cause a discoloration of the skin called carotenemia. It’s harmless, but it’s a sign you an excess of the nutrient in store. The same can happen with tomatoes, causing a yellowish tint due to too much lycopene.
Relying on tuna fish as your source of protein and omega-3s may be cheap and easy, but mercury poisoning is likely in your future if you eat too much—as little as three, 6 ounce servings in a month for adult women can lead to poisoning. Children are especially susceptible, at less than two, 4.5 ounce portions a month.
If you can’t live without your tuna sandwich, purchase varieties made of smaller tuna fish. The larger the fish, the more mercury it will have. Go for the “canned light” variety, which is made of the smaller fish, skipjack. Albacore (“canned white”) and yellowfin (“gourmet” or “tonno”) have three times the mercury as skipjack. The Environmental Defense Fund recommends canned salmon as a contaminant-free alternative.
6. Curry, Cayenne and Cinnamon
Curry powder, cayenne and cinnamon are popular both in the kitchen and as nutritional supplements—for weight loss, pain-relief and arthritis maintenance. They are high in salicylates, one of the active ingredients in aspirin that naturally relieve pain by fighting inflammation and thinning the blood.
Too much of these compounds in your diet can cause salicylate toxicity, a form of food poisoning. It can also cause you to bruise more easily or prevent your blood from clotting. Other natural sources of salicylates include oregano, peppermint, honey, vinegar, nuts, cruciferous vegetables and fruit.
The jury is still out on this one, but reports of gastric distress after eating a large bowl of broccoli are widespread. Self-proclaimed experts say the cause was too much fiber at once, and others laugh at the thought of overdosing on broccoli. Either way, with high levels of salicylates and goitrogenic nutrients, it’s probably best not to make a whole meal out of this green crucifer alone.
If you’re in the Popeye camp of making spinach a daily staple, be careful. Spinach is high in iron—just one cooked cup contains 36% of the RDI of iron. It’s also a natural diuretic that can leave you dehydrated. High levels of fiber (17% of the RDA in one cup) can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Spinach has also been shown to block the absorption of calcium into the body.
The Bottom Line: Balance and Variety
When I say, “going overboard,” I mean eating unusually large quantities of the food for long periods of time. Fads like “the spinach diet” or eating bowlfuls of broccoli for breakfast, lunch and dinner is an unusual amount.
You may be surprised to hear that this kind of behavior is actually common. Psychotherapists have even developed a new term for people who obsessively eat nothing but healthy foods: orthorexia nervosa.
The bottom line is variety and balance. Eating more healthy foods will always do you good, but you should seek variety in everything you eat. Don’t just eat spinach or kale… eat spinach and kale. Don’t focus solely on carrots as your “go-to” vegetable, get some bell pepper or broccoli, too. Make sure you’re also getting a healthy intake of lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains.
Finally, make sure you can absorb all the nutrients in the healthy food you’re eating. If your body is toxic, it won’t be able to make use of all the good, healthy varieties of fresh food you’re eating. If you get sick often, feel heavy and fatigued, your body may be overloaded with toxins.
The best way to detox is to cleanse your body from the inside out. But with all the information and variety of cleanses available—everything from juicing to supplements to sketchy-looking laxatives—how do you know what to do? Or, more importantly, what to avoid?
First, you’ll want to avoid all forms of chemical laxatives. Chemical laxatives may provide temporary relief but can actually cause your bowels to become inflamed or even impacted. Look for all-natural, gentle options instead.
Start with probiotics like bifido and dophilus which replenish your intestinal tract’s good bacteria, crowd out bad bacteria and stimulates proper digestion. Then add in natural herbal supplements that gently cleanse your bowels – gradually – like buckthorn bark, psyllium husk and milk thistle extract.
You’ll find all of these and more in our all-natural dietary supplement, Natural Cleanse.
Are sea vegetables a good source of iodine? The World’s Healthiest Foods.
Mayo Clinic. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Diseases and Conditions. 2012 Nov 20.
Patenaude F. The Top 10 Myths About Eating Fruit. Common Sense Advice on the Raw Food Diet. 2009 Sep 24.
Kale. The World’s Healthiest Foods.
Cloe A. Salicylates in Food & Thin Blood. Livestrong: Health. 2011 Aug 23.
Fitzgerald T. Mercury alert: Is canned tuna safe to eat? Environmental Defense Fund. 2013.
Spinach. The World’s Healthiest Foods.