As promised last week in Nutrition Advance founder Michael Joseph’s insightful interview, here’s a post on stuff in the supermarket’s “health food” section that are actually dangerous for you. Some of them are the biggest culprits in expanding waistlines and depleting immunity. With marketing and attractive packaging going into overdrive to ride the health food wave, it’s hard not to fall for marketing gimmicks in the search of better health.
Beware. Some of the risky health foods on this list will shock you:
Packaged fruit juices that promise to be 100% real fruit juice have taste bhi, health bhi. Right?
What’s wrong with it? Most juices have loads of sugar or corn syrups which have more sugar than a can of cola. Most of the nutrients and fibre are lost while juicing the fruit. A better way to get your juice fix is to make it at home, and drink the whole thing… pulp and all.
Chefs and vegans often substitute regular milk with soy milk in everything from coffee to smoothies to dessert, because it’s low in calories and has zero fat. What’s not to like?
What’s wrong with it? Soybean is continuously found to be high in pesticides. Most soybean contains GMOs and we all know the spiel about genetically modified foods.
Chocolate-covered protein bars are advertised as the safe alternative to fast food and fried snacks for people on the go. Besides, we all need protein in our daily diet, correct?
What’s wrong with them? Protein bars are glorified candy bars. They have just as much chocolate and sugar too. Most protein bars are high in carbs (check the nutrition label to see the exact percentage).
They aren’t deep fried in oil, so baked chips are the health-conscious foodie’s guilty pleasure.
What’s wrong with them? While they may be low in fat, baked chips have a tonne of sodium and sugar added for processing and for longer shelf life.
It’s made of oats and advertised as a health food for busy people.
What’s wrong with it? Granola averages 597 calories per cup, 28 grams of fat and 24 grams of sugar. Best alternative? Real slow-cooking oats.
LOW-FAT PEANUT BUTTER
Regular peanut butter has heart-healthy MUFAs (monounsaturated fats) and vegetarian protein (good for the muscles).
What’s wrong with it? The low-fat version has none of the good stuff. Since the fats are what lend the flavour, manufacturers replace it with different kinds of sugars. Our advice: Stay loyal to the regular full-fat peanut butter or make peanut butter at home. All you need to do is grind raw peanuts in a mixie till buttery smooth.
Probiotics in natural and Greek yoghurt are good for the gut, and it is rich in protein. Flavoured yoghurt makes the job easier. It’s becoming popular as a dessert option for foodies wanting to indulge sensibly.
What’s wrong with it? Flavoured yoghurt cancels out the health benefits you’d expect since every tiny cup has 20 gm or more of refined sugar. Look for low-sugar versions or simply add berries to a cup of plain yoghurt for an antioxidant-rich dessert.
As loyal as you are to your brand of cola, it’s about the worst things to quench your thirst with. There is something more dangerous on shelves – a can of diet soda.
What’s wrong with it? An American study found that people who drank two or more cans of diet sodas a day saw their waistline increasing six times faster than regular cola drinkers. Diet cola may be zero-calorie, but the large quantities of chemicals and artificial sweeteners used produce unhealthy bacteria in the gut and make it harder to keep your weight in check.
LOW-FAT ICE CREAM
You are feeling good about yourself for beating the heat with light, low-fat icecream instead of that cone of creamy icecream that would have piled on the kilos. You will be in for a surprise.
What’s wrong with it? Light and low-fat ice creams have artificial sweeteners and chemicals used as substitutes for heavy cream to reduce the calorie count. This means your insulin levels would shoot up and go down faster.
WRAPS AND ROLLS
On most days, office goers order a wrap, meaty roll or walk over to the friendly street stall for a Frankie. They are hot sellers around colleges and offices since they are filling and have eggs, vegetables and chicken.
What’s wrong with them? The rotis have so little of fresh vegetables and so much of carb-heavy potatoes, onions and spices that it won’t do you any good. These wraps are typically made with refined maida. The Frankies are fried in reused oil.
Movie theatre nostalgia aside, unsalted popcorn is one of the healthiest munchies thanks to its fibre and whole grain content. The same isn’t the case with microwave popcorn.
What’s wrong with it? That little sachet of microwave popcorn has a multitude of additives and chemicals. Most popular brands contain harmful transfats and diacetyl, an ingredient that’s supposed to give you the flavour of butter but also harms the brain. The lining of the sachet has perfluorooctanoic acid, the toxic chemical on Teflon pans.
Soup is incredibly healthy, but not when you buy it out of a can.
What’s wrong with them? Canned soups are highly processed, so take it for granted that they will come with all the trappings of that label – lots of sodium, preservatives, added fat and sugar. No one warned you about the cans either. The plastic lining of popular soup cans contains BPA (Bisphenol A), which can impact children and women’s reproductive system badly.
What’s the solution?
Cooking your own meals. Instead of wasting your money on fake ‘health foods’, prepare the real thing at home, and eat moderately for a nutritionally-wealthy diet.
Coming up: How to drink socially without getting fat
I looked up the internet to see what other bloggers are saying about the scam of “health foods”. There’s quite a lot going on. Click on the links below for the top pick of the heap:
- Is soy a health food? – Satinka
- Kellogg’s: Junk food pioneers – Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
- Do not play with your own health – Candles online
- Food safety and nutrition: Do you care who makes decisions in the govt.?
- Could healthy, organic foods be killing you?