It’s undoubtedly important to be mindful of what foods boost your health, and what foods work against it. People are always telling us what we should and shouldn’t be eating, but that certainly doesn’t mean you should be eating the former in excess. In fact, some of the most beneficial foods for the body can cause problems when over-consumed. But with a constant flow of information being presented to us on what the newest superfood is to boost our metabolism, shrink our waist, provide valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and give us long-lasting energy, it can be difficult to discern what you should be eating every day, and what you should supplement your diet with every now and then.
Here are six unsuspecting foods that may cause health problems if you eat a large amount of them:
While tuna can be a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, this particular fish contains the highest levels of mercury. Overdosing on mercury can result in speech problems, vision problems, and poor muscular coordination. Furthermore, canned tuna can contain chemicals such as BPA, which can interfere with the body’s hormones. When it comes to higher-mercury albacore tuna, limit yourself to no more than 6 ounces per week.
Soy is a plant source of eight of the essential amino acids, making it the only complete non-animal protein perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Whole soy foods provide an excellent source of fiber, B vitamins, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Soy seems to be in everything these days, but too much of the genetically modified bean can result in a variety of health problems, including enhancing the production of estrogen, which can heighten women’s risk of developing certain cancers, specifically breast cancer. To avoid the downside of soy, steer clear of the non-organic varieties altogether.
Nuts are continuously touted for their beneficial health properties, and Brazil nuts are no exception, as they are high in selenium, which is a mineral that’s healthy for your immune system and thyroid functioning. But too much selenium can actually be toxic to the body, causing brittle hair, nails and digestive complications. To avoid the risks and reap the health benefits, stick to two of these nuts a day.
It’s hard to imagine this highly touted fruit as having any downsides, as they contain several essential nutrients, and have benefits for digestion, heart health and weight loss. They’re also a great source of potassium, which works alongside sodium to maintain a normal blood pressure. Potassium is also an electrolyte, which helps to maintain a healthy balance of fluids in the body. But too much of this mineral can actually cause hyperkalemia, which can lead to heart, muscle, and nerve problems. One or two a day won’t harm you, but avoid the all-banana diet that some people advocate.
Spices and herbs are regularly celebrated for their many medicinal properties. Cinnamon, for instance, is high in antioxidants that can fight inflammation and lower blood sugar levels. It’s also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, but cinnamon also contains high levels of the compound coumarin, which can be harmful in large doses. The body can tolerate a daily intake of 0.2 mg per kg of body weight of coumarin, but anymore than that may result in liver toxicity and cancer.
Including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and collard greens, cruciferous vegetables have been linked with many health benefits, including a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. But compounds in these vegetables known as thiocyanates can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iodine, resulting in a condition called hypothyroidism whose symptoms include an enlarged thyroid gland, weight gain, constipation, dry skin and reduced energy levels. People with thyroid problems should avoid consuming large amounts of these veggies.