We’re in the age of increasing awareness regarding health, nutrition, and balanced diets. Many of us have sworn by to only allow healthy meals in our diets.
Whether it’s ordering salads at a restaurant or choosing citrus fruits instead of fries as a snack, most of us are doing our part to stay healthy.
But what if the foods we trust so blindly, the foods which we think can do no wrong, turn out to be harmful to our body? Read on to find out about foods which ‘appear’ healthy but actually aren’t so much.
Heads up: some are going to be shockers!
1. Energy bars
Energy bars have such a steady reputation of being a safe nutritious food, that one might find it hard to come around the fact that they don’t differ much from sweets when it comes to their health profile. Most bars claim high energy and protein but in reality, their nutritional chart is hardly different from a candy bar. In fact, some energy bars have as much as sugar as candies. However, the idea is not to completely eliminate them from your diet but to take them not as frequently as you would intake a healthy snack.
2. Diet soda
Everyone knows soda is bad for health – well, it adds flab to your waist and causes cavities in your teeth. Studies also show they are linked to heart diseases, diabetes, and many more diseases. So, many people switch to the diet version of it, thinking it is the good, healthy soda. But sadly, not only the diet soda can be equally bad as the regular soda, it can be worse. A diet soda contains artificial sweeteners which can spike your insulin (artificial sweeteners are made to be sweeter than the actual sugar). This will ultimately get converted into stored fats and then would essentially lead you down the same road as a regular soda would.
Now, this might be a shocker for many, after all, it’s a fruit. Well, the dried fruits are not devils themselves, it’s the packaging and processing the dried fruits go through that render them unhealthy.
Many companies add sugar in order to make the flavour sweet – which, in part, makes the dried fruits similar to candy. Plus, to preserve the freshness of the goods, sulfur dioxide is frequently used.
Sure, there’s goodness of fiber, minerals, and vitamins in dried fruits, but along with all that you’re also going to intake lots of sugar and chemicals. Are dry fruits still a part of the healthy brigade?
4. Fat-Free Cheese
Anything fat-free is good in your books? Think again. Studies have found out that, firstly, not all fats are bad for you. Some fats like mono-unsaturated fats (read omega 3 fatty acids) and poly- and mono-unsaturated fats are actually good for your heart. So don’t miss out on these when you can easily have them in your cheese. Secondly, when you choose the fat-free option, you are choosing the one where fat has been replaced by extra sodium and sugar – they do so in order to make up for the lost flavour. Lastly, you could overeat since you won’t feel satisfied with a fat-deficient food. So, do give a second thought when opting for a fat-free cheese. Fat might not look good on you, but hey it does on cheese.
5. Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
Well, peanut butter’s tantalising taste has left only few unimpressed. And when it comes with the option of fewer fats, it seems like a very smart thing to go for it. But, in reality, sticking to the natural version is smarter. Why? Because, just like the cheese above, when they eliminate the fat out from the butter, they add other fillers and sugar – not something you’ve bargained for. Moreover, they have the same calorie count as the natural full-fat version. So, the newer version has the same amount of fats just with more sugars. No, that’s definitely not smarter to choose the reduced-fat peanut butter.
6. Fruit Juice
Firstly, packaged or not, most fruits (with the exception of pomegranate and a few more) lose their nutritional value when converted into juices. A fruit’s skin contains nutrients and vitamins and its flesh has healthy fiber – most of which is lost in the juice form. And, the packaged juice is even worse as they’re sugar packaged. The fructose-laden sugar can be stored as fat in your liver. Not a healthy option by any stretch. Better yet to consume fruits directly.
7. Fruit and Vegetable Chips
As counter-intuitive as it can be, fruits and vegetable chips are not any healthier than your regular greasy chips of potato. Most of it has to do with their processing – which removes the fruit and veggie nutritional content from the chips. What you end up with are chips that are flavoured and coloured to taste and look like a real fruit or vegetable.
If you really enjoy fruit/veg chips, the best way to go about them is to prepare them at home in the oven.
8. Packed Cookies
Well, they seem innocent and aren’t they yum? They taste nice and come handy to quell evening cravings. But if you’ve paid attention to the ingredients, you can see they’re bad news. They contain lots of artificial flavours, sugar, preservatives & colours, and there’s nothing healthy about it. Besides, there is another reason to stay away from them if they’re made in hydrogenated cooking oil. It’d be better to make your own cookies at home. Give your culinary skills a nudge!
9. Gluten-free Packaged Foods
Looks are deceiving sometimes, and it is certainly true for gluten-free food packages which boast of high nutrition. Companies use even inferior products than gluten to replace it, such as tapioca starch, potato, and rice. These products offer very little health benefit and make you hungrier in the long run, forcing you to eat more and more. In addition, they use as much, if not more, sugar as their gluten-containing cousins.
10. Wholegrain or Multigrain Bread
Be very selective when you buy your bread. Sometimes, the brown bread they sell is nothing more than the regular white bread dyed brown! So, next time, while you’re out for grocery shopping, do check its content. Normally, the wholegrain flour is mentioned first in the ingredient list of a genuine quality brown bread. And, it shouldn’t be something like “enriched wheat flour” or “high protein wheat flour.” You’re opting for wholegrain bread, not some fancy refined word for it. So, pay only what you think you’re paying for.
11. Flavoured Milk
Ah! The flavoured milk! Who doesn’t like them? They’re delicious and must be super healthy, too, right? Well, aren’t they wholesome milk? Well, true, but you’re also letting in lots of sugar. The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar in a day and if your flavoured milk-can is alone giving you that much (many do) or more, think about the extra sugar that’s going to come from other foods you’ll consume in a day. There’s going to be an inevitable overshoot in your sugar levels.
12. Packs of Nuts
Now nuts have nothing wrong with them, per se, it’s just that the flavour coatings ruin their game. Many are coated with plenty of salt and sugar, more than you’d want in your diet. Nuts, however, should be a part of your diet as they’re rich in nutrients and protein. So, instead of buying a nut-pack, eat your own raw, unprocessed nuts and sprinkle a bit of salt, if you like. That’s a step towards a healthy living.
Granola is considered a healthy breakfast. But be very discerning when you choose the brand. Some are not very rich in fiber and can raise the number of carbs, calories, and sugar in your diet. Stick to the brand which has little sugar and contains healthy nuts.
When you see a smoothie pack at a store, trust us, you’re looking at a giant box of calories and sugars. And, in reality, they contain very little of real fruit. It’s a much healthier option to make smoothies at home. That way you can control the ingredients and the amount of sugar that can slip into your diet. But avoid using fruit juice for forming the liquid base, as this will prevent the huge sugar rush. Coconut water or just plain water would do fine.
15. Prepared Salads
If you think you’re choosing to be healthy when you order a salad instead of pizza at a restaurant, think again. Most salads come drenched in dressings which suppress the health quotient by big leaps. Sometimes you’re not having any fewer calories than a cheeseburger. It depends a lot on the dressing actually. So, be mindful of your toppings and dresses and stick to the ones which contain less saturated fats. Pile on the nutritional value by adding protein through beans, salmons etc.
Surprised, are you? Well, some or all of these 15 might be part of your diet. So, are you ready to put them behind and lead a real healthy life?