Sometimes we all probably feel like we are walking through a nutrition mine field. What one person or organization calls healthy is deemed unhealthy or even deadly by another. So what is a person to do when faced with the idea of trying to improve food choices in order to achieve a healthy fit body? Luckily there are a few things that we are absolutely certain of and these things are the focus of this article. There are a lot of everyday, common foods and food storage items that most people don’t give a second thought, but that in actuality could seriously affect their overall health and quality of life.

This first unhealthy substance isn’t actually a food, but it is something we commonly store foods in. Even health food stores sometimes place their “healthy” food in containers made of this cancer-linked substance. In June 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report saying that styrene has a high probability of causing cancer. Now, given the fact that I’ve been in the fitness industry for quite some time, this is not news to me, but perhaps it is to you. Styrene is everywhere and it’s a challenge to avoid it. Here are some very common products containing this potentially cancer-causing substance.

Fortunately for us wisdom is power in this case. There are very simple alternatives to styrene these days and glass food and liquid containers are your best bet for ensuring the things you put in your body are not contaminated with unwanted and in some cases, deadly ingredients.

A second potentially harmful issue surrounds farm raised salmon (tilapia also). When we think of salmon we think of a beautiful vibrant fish leaping over small water falls in order to spawn, you know, just like we see on the Discovery Channel. Well, this isn’t the reality for farm raised salmon. Instead envision tiny ponds densely packed with fish that have never felt a day of freedom. If this doesn’t make you feel uneasy, the rest of the story will. Farm raised salmon are malnourished due to the fact that they are fed cheap sources of food in order to keep costs at a minimum. Feathers are a staple in the farm raised salmon’s diet because it’s a cheap source of protein. Because they are so poorly fed, their skin is a drab shade of gray. Since this wouldn’t sell very well, these farm raised salmon are injected with the colorant Canthaxanthin in order to produce that healthy-looking pink color. Farmed salmon contain much higher levels of Poly-Chlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins that do their wild-caught cousins. Research has shown that even a small amount of these compounds may cause irreparable brain development damage in children. Moreover, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has announced that ingesting more than a single serving of farm-raised salmon in a given week may cause a person to exceed the maximum intake level for these substances according to the World Health Organization. So many people eat salmon in an effort to be healthy and get those essential fatty acids found in this fish’s oil. Unfortunately they are being deceived because not only do these fishes have lower quality oils than their wild-caught cousins, but they also have tissues (meat) fed with potentially harmful substances.

Here is a list of some of the substances farm-raised salmon ingest:

Antibiotics Flesh dye (Canthaxanthin) Animal feces Blood meal Magnesium sulphate Bird feathers Animal bone meal Cane molasses Potassium iodide Sodium carbonate Soy Zinc oxide Di-calcium phosphate Yeast Copper carbonate Fowl organs Cobalt sulphate Cellulose Unfortunately this story only gets worse but you get the picture. Farm-raised fish is a huge issue that has health conscious and environmentally conscious people up in arms over these practices.

Always look for “wild caught” fish whenever possible.

Be on the lookout for catchy names that are meant to trick you. For instance, many restaurants serve “Atlantic Salmon.” This is another way of saying that these fish are farm-raised. Be careful when selecting fish at the grocery store or restaurant. I recommend you choose “wild caught” whenever possible.

Another troublesome “health” food has been a part of many American’s diets for decades. This food is the one we know as microwaved popcorn. While this is certainly a tasty snack, it seems there could be some real drawbacks to using microwaved popcorn instead of popping it the old fashion way (in a pan using cooking oil).

The potentially harmful substance under scrutiny is called diacetyl. This chemical is used to give microwaved popcorn that wonderful buttery aroma. Popcorn companies have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in claims to workers who are exposed to the dangerous fumes given off by diacetyl in the factories where the popcorn is produced. Unhealthy, life altering evidence abounds where this chemical is concerned. While the scientific community readily admits diacetyl exposure in the work place is a dangerous thing, much of the science stops there without going into the homes of people who frequently eat this supposedly “healthy” snack.

It’s not a reach to assume that anything causing serious problems to the workers dealing with it could also cause problems to someone actually eating it. Over time, who knows how potentially serious the health ramifications could be. My recommendation is to take a few extra minutes and enjoy popcorn the old-fashioned way, cooked on a stove, in a pan with cooking oil using real butter as a topping.

The three food items mentioned in this article are highlighted primarily because of their tremendous presence in our everyday lives. Every store is packed with farm-raised fish, styrene stored foods and microwavable foods containing harmful chemicals. Be on the lookout for harmful substances in many of the foods you think of as healthy.