There are many foods out there being touted as “health” foods, but you can’t always believe what you hear. The best way to know what you are really putting in your body is to ignore the hype and read the nutrition labels not just the marketing big print on the front.
Here you will discover the 10 worst offenders masquerading as health foods that should be avoided.
1. Low-carb snack foods
Don’t confuse this with a low-carb diet which can be beneficial to weight loss. Most snacks that claim to be low carb contain a laundry list of additives, chemicals and highly refined ingredients to make up for the lack of flavor. While these products don’t contain carbs, they also don’t contain anything that has actual nutritional value.
2. Low-fat yogurt
When fat is removed from dairy, manufacturers must compensate for the lack of flavor by loading it with sugar or artificial sweeteners. And guess what sugar turns into once ingested. You guessed it, fat! And not the healthy kind either. You are better off eating the full fat, unsweetened version and adding honey or agave for a suitable, flavorful, alternative.
3. Gluten-free foods
If you have Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance, gluten-free foods are an obvious necessity, however, if you are avoiding gluten because it’s the latest food trend, you are likely missing out on nutrients critical to a healthy diet. Whole grains contain fiber and natural b-vitamins that are essential to a healthy diet. Bottom line, if you don’t need to cut out gluten for health reasons, go ahead and have that slice of whole grain bread.
4. “Multigrain” products
“Multigrain” is a deceptive marketing term used to pass off unhealthy products as healthy. They typically do not contain whole-wheat grain, which is the highest in fiber and vitamins. Multigrain products are usually refined, with decreased nutritional value. Check the ingredients for sprouted grains, 100% whole wheat, oats or the like to know if you are getting the good stuff.
5. Frozen diet entrees
These so-called health food items may not have the calories or fat, but they make up for it with a lot of excess sodium. Not to mention the fact that most frozen food entrees are highly processed and are rarely filling, which will likely leave you running to the pantry for “second lunch”. Avoid processed foods, even the ones marketed as healthy.
Not all granola is created equal and this offender is usually of the store-bought variety. Most manufactured granola products are loaded with sugar and pack a calorie wallop. The best solution is to bake your own choosing high fiber ingredients such as nuts, seeds and whole-grain oats, limit the added sugar and use natural sweeteners such as honey or pure maple syrup.
Smoothies make the list because the store-bought kind usually include a huge portion of fruit juice with added sugar and are loaded with calories. The body also regards liquid calories differently than solid calories which doesn’t diminish appetite. If you must have a smoothie, your best bet is to whip one up at home but include lots of leafy greens such as spinach or kale. Add protein powder to make it a satiable meal.
8. Nut butters
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and nutrients… most of which are lost in the process of making them into nut butter. Adding insult to injury is the fact that most manufactured nut butters are loaded with sugar and salt. If you want a good nut butter, opt for all natural with only one ingredient, or better yet, grind the nuts at home in the food processor.
9. Dried fruit
Dried fruit typically has sugar added to it to make it sweeter. Plus, sulfur dioxide is often added as a preservative, you know, that chemical emitted by volcanoes. If you have a hankering for some fruit, grab a piece of the real deal.
Margarine may not really be touted as a health food, but it has been claimed as a healthier alternative to butter. Manufacturers may have cut out most of the trans fats, but it still comes packed with refined vegetable oil. Your best bet, stick with butter or ghee in moderation.
While some of these foods make for healthier options than traditional junk food, which is a plus – just be sure you know what you’re choosing and where it fits into your overall food plan.