Eating healthily isn’t always easy. Between a hectic work life, the temptation of delicious restaurant meals, and the rise of convenience foods, balancing nutrition is a tough job.
What makes this challenge even harder is the myriad of health claims on packaged foods today. Sadly, many ‘health’ foods aren’t really healthy at all. Bogus buzzwords like ‘natural’, ‘diet’ and ‘reduced fat’, just serve to distract us from the actual ingredients contained in what we eat – many of which are unhealthy and even harmful.
Here are 14 so-called ‘healthy’ foods which you might be better off without!
1. Protein Bars
Thanks to a national obsession with protein, sales of nutrition bars are soaring! While protein is vital for every cell in our body – to produce bones, muscles, blood, hormones and enzymes – protein bars aren’t exactly the best source of this macronutrient.
Some of these bars contain up to 27g of sugar from various sweeteners like cane invert syrup and even fructose syrup. Many are also loaded with non-organic soy protein isolate (which is likely genetically modified), sugar alcohols which negatively affect gut health and ‘natural flavors’ which can disguise many unhealthy additives.
2. Vitamin Water
Although staying hydrated is vital, sticking with plain water is a much better choice than Vitamin Water.
A bottle of one of these enhanced drinks contains around 32.5g of sugar – almost the same as a Coca-Cola! Sure, you’ll be getting 40% of your daily Vitamin C needs, but an orange plus a glass of water will supply the same amount of hydration and a whole lot more nutrition!
Similarly, watch out for sports drinks which often contain 50g of sugar per 12 ounces.
3. Flavored Yogurt
Often believed to be one of the healthiest choices for breakfast or snack-time, yogurt can be loaded with sugars.
Some flavored varieties contain 28g of sugar per one pot serving, and even so-called ‘light choices’ contain 10g per serving.
Sugar is one of the main culprits for causing an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, something many yogurt brands claim their product will remedy!
When it comes to healthy choices, choose a plain natural or Greek yogurt instead, which are lower in sugar and can be higher in beneficial bacteria and protein.
4. ‘Diet’ Ready-Meals
Busy yet health-conscious people often turn to a frozen or pre-prepared ready-meal in a bid to stay in shape. But these meals are usually pumped full of both sugar and salt in a bid to improve their otherwise cardboard-like taste.
For example, Lean Cuisine’s so called ‘healthy’ offerings can pack in 23g of sugar per serving for a meal that contains chicken, French cut green beans, carrots and whole wheat orzo pasta; while a veggie scramble contains 690 mg of sodium – almost half the recommended maximum daily sodium intake!
Although not exactly a ‘food’, many people treat vitamins and supplements as such! That’s why it’s always advisable to buy from a reputable brand, and go for the best quality supplements you can afford.
Some vitamins and supplements are a shocking source of sugar, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, particularly chewable vitamins marketed at children.
Even worse, these products may not even contain the vitamins and minerals they say they do!
In 2015, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman revealed that 79% of supplements tested in one investigation didn’t actually contain the primary ingredient listed on the label! Many contained other plant material, including compounds that may cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Containing heart-healthy rolled oats, dried fruit, nuts and honey, crunchy and delicious granola seems like a healthy alternative to cereal.
An examination of several popular granola brands, however, has found that some have more sugar than a can of soda, and more saturated fat than a McDonald’s bacon muffin.
A generous portion of some granola may even lead people to consume half their daily calorie allowance for breakfast!