Some foods that pack a healthy punch may also be bad bets if you have certain health conditions.
Nutrition experts—Ann C. Whitaker, RD, Manager of Nutrition Services at Kaiser Permanente, Georgia Region, and Laurie Beebe, MS, RD, a diet coach in O'Fallon, IL—came up with a list of usually healthful foods that can pose problems.
- Turkey. Low in fat and high in protein, turkey is a terrific menu option—unless you suffer from the painful joint condition known as gout, in which uric acid builds up in the body and causes severe joint pain and swelling. White meat turkey is among several foods that are high in purines, which aggravate gout.
- Leafy green vegetables. They can cause major problems for people with heart disease who are taking blood-thinning drugs. The vitamin K in leafy green veggies encourages clotting.
- Grapes. Diabetes patients may think they're following a good diet if they stay away from candy, cookies and cake. But fruit contains sugar, too, and grapes contain more sugar than most and may cause your blood glucose to spike.
- Dark chocolate. If you suffer from calcium oxalate kidney stones, talk to your doctor before you unwrap another chocolate bar. According to the National Kidney Foundation, people with such kidney stones should avoid foods high in oxalates (a type of salt crystal) because they can promote stone formation.
- Oatmeal. This whole-grain food helps lower "bad" cholesterol, but the phosphorus in protein-rich oatmeal can then build up in your body and leach calcium from your bones. This can lead to poor circulation, hardened arteries and heart problems.
- Pomegranate juice. If you're taking statins to lower your cholesterol, your doctor probably advised you not to down your meds with grapefruit juice. But people taking statins also should avoid pomegranate juice. Both juices contain a specific enzyme that increases the length of time statins remain in the body—where they can cause serious side effects, such as muscle pain and, in severe cases, liver damage.
- Sushi. Elderly adults, pregnant women, people undergoing chemotherapy and those infected with HIV should skip the rice-wrapped raw fish. The risk of food-borne illnesses is much higher in raw or undercooked animal protein food sources.
- Whole-wheat bread. The very qualities that make whole-grain foods so nutritious can be a thorn in the side of people who suffer from intestinal problems. People with Crohn's disease, for example, must limit fiber because their intestines are narrowed and prone to developing blockages that can end up requiring emergency surgery.