The 12 Worst Foods You Can Eat -- Ranked!

potato chips

It's pretty simplistic to categorize foods as simply "good" or "bad." Why not rank 'em instead? 

We took 12 well-known foods you've been warned to cut from your diet -- although they all taste pretty darn good, FYI -- and asked Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN, a corporate dietitian at Medifast Inc., to put them in order from "Not-so-bad Bad" to "Holy s***t! Stay away!"

Were we shocked and dismayed by how this list played out? Yup. And you will be, too. Click through to see.

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Images via Yalcin Sonat/Shutterstock; iStock.com/Gizelka

  • 12. Pasta

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    Pasta's biggest problem? (Other than the fact that it's a refined grain that's low on vitamins, minerals, and fiber.) "Portion size," says Miller. "A 1/3 cup of pasta equals one serving size. That's a lot less than many of us are eating." But make it a side dish rather than your main entree -- and choose a whole-grain variety -- and pasta gets a pass.

    More from CafeMom: Surprise! Pasta Is Actually Good for You

  • 11. Fast Food

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    Fast food fare is loaded with calories, sugar, salt, and fat. So why did it rank relatively okayish on this list? Because "many fast food restaurants are beginning to offer healthier options," notes Miller. Choose lean, grilled protein -- like chicken -- rather than fried food. (More about that later.) And decline the condiments. "They're often a source of added sugar, calories, and fat," says Miller.

  • 10. White Bread & Bagels

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    Refined grains are quickly digested into simple sugars and absorbed into your bloodstream, causing your blood sugar to spike and then crash. "This can leave you feeling tired and irritable," notes Miller. Another (huge) downside to white bread and bagels? "Diets rich in refined grains can contribute to increased inflammation throughout the body," says Miller. 

    More from CafeMom13 Grocery Store Staples Experts Say to Skip Buying Forever 

  • 9. Potato Chips

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    "Mindlessly munching on potato chips can lead to a surplus of calories with no nutritional benefit, which can wreak havoc on your waistline," notes Miller. Still, they're a better choice than what's to come...

  • 8. Energy Drinks

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    Here's an idea: Next time you're thirsty and spent after a workout, grab a glass of WATER. "Energy drinks provide liquid calories with few nutrients," explains Miller. "They're often rich in added sugars and contain large doses of caffeine."

  • 7. Donuts

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    Image via Syda Productions/Shutterstock

    NOT the breakfast of champions. Donuts are a sugar-bomb "likely to leave you feeling hungry and lethargic shortly after eating," Miller says."That's because they contain no protein or fiber, two nutrients that keep us feeling full and focused."

    More from CafeMom'Food Babe' May Not Be a Scientist, but Sugar Really Can Be Toxic

  • 6. Snack Cakes

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    Sure, they're adorable. But inside the cute wrappers and sweet li'l names lies a true vending machine villain. "This processed food is a rich source of added sugars, unhealthy fats, and calories," Miller says. 

  • 5. Hot Dogs

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    Everybody's fave grilling item comes with a nasty health risk. "Regular consumption of processed meats like hot dogs has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer," says Miller. "Some experts believe this is due to certain preservatives used in the meats that change into cancer-promoting compounds in the body."

  • 4. Movie Popcorn

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    That tub of popcorn you splurged on at the movie theater? It could set you back between 400 to 1,200 calories, warns Miller. "Movie theater popcorn is also notoriously high in sodium and artery-clogging saturated fat."

    More from CafeMom10 'Kid-Friendly' Snacks Nutritionists Won't Feed Their Own Kids 

  • 3. Fried Food

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    Fried shrimp. Fried oysters. French fries and tater tots. It doesn't matter what's inside the breading -- if it's fried, it's bad for you. "People who eat a lot of fried foods may have a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease," Miller says. 


  • Tie (1 and 2.) Soda...

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    The two absolute worst things on this list, the Frick and Frack of nutrition, the Trump and Trump of the food party? One of them is (big gulp here) soda -- which "has been linked to an increased risk for chronic disease, including obesity and diabetes," says Miller. 

  • ... and Sugar

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    Any way you spoon it out, sugar does NOT make the medicine go down. "A tablespoon of sugar contains 50 calories and 13 grams of sugar with no vitamins, minerals, or other health-promoting nutrients," says Miller. Even more troubling: "The more sugar we eat," Miller adds, "the more we crave." 

    More from CafeMom: 'Healthy' Snacks That Smother Your Diet in Sugar

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