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Don’t fall for these ten “healthy foods” that are junk foods in disguise.
- Commercial salad dressings
As many of us already know, vegetables are an abundant source of vitamins and minerals. The problem is that even though kale, spinach, and other leafy greens are nutritious, they often don’t taste good on their own.
Helping turn bland and bitter salads into delicious meals are dressings, which add a savory flavor to each bite. However, many salad dressings are full of unhealthy ingredients, including trans fats, sugar, and various artificial chemicals.
Drowning your veggies in salad dressing negates the health benefits. Therefore, ensure to check the ingredients list before you purchase a bottle of salad dressing. If you have the time, you can also create your own using healthy and all-natural ingredients. From honey mustard to lemon vinaigrette, here are some healthy salad dressing recipes you can make at home.
- Fruit juices
Don’t let the word “fruit” fool you.
Instead of using actual fruit, some fruit juices available in grocery stores contain chemicals that only taste like fruit. And, even if you drink 100% real fruit juice, it no longer contains good-for-you nutrients like fiber. The bottom line: Don’t drink fruit, eat it.
- Processed “fat-free” and “low-fat” food
The “war” on saturated fat is one of the most erroneous decisions in the history of nutrition. The evidence behind the alleged health risks was weak, and researchers have completely debunked them.
Before scientists revealed the truth about saturated fats, processed food manufacturers have already removed them from their products. Furthermore, because food doesn’t always taste well without fat, the manufacturers added plenty of sugar to compensate.
The words “fat-free” or “low fat” on packaging usually means that it is highly processed and loaded with sugar. Keep this in mind the next you go food shopping.
- “Heart-healthy” whole wheat
Many “whole wheat” breads, cereals, and other products are not made from actual whole wheat. The manufacturers pulverize grains into fine flour, which causes them to elevate blood sugar levels as fast as refined grains. In fact, according to Health Harvard Publishing, whole wheat bread and white bread have a similar glycemic index.
In addition, modern wheat may cause increased cholesterol levels and inflammation, especially when compared to older varieties.
In previous years, as a result of people labeling butter as a bad food choice due to its relatively high saturated fat content, various health experts began promoting margarine instead.
Margarine used to be high in trans fats. Today, it does contain less trans fat than before, but it is still full of refined vegetable oils. The Framingham Heart Study even showed that men who replaced butter with margarine were more prone to dying from heart disease.
Recommending trans fat-laden margarine rather than natural butter is one of the worst nutrition advice in history. If you are conscious about your health and want to improve it, then choose real butter (preferably grass-fed), and avoid margarine with trans fat.
- Cholesterol-lowering phytosterols
Some studies show that phytosterols — nutrients similar to plant versions of cholesterol — can lower blood cholesterol in humans. For this reason, food manufacturers often add phytosterols to processed products marketed as “cholesterol-lowering” and “helps prevent heart disease.”
Men and women with phytosterolemia — a hereditary condition that elevates plant sterol level in the blood — are more susceptible to the adverse effects of phytosterols.
- Sports drinks
Sports drinks contain electrolytes (salts) and sugar, which are useful for athletes in many cases. However, most people have no need for additional salt or sugar in their diet.
It is crucial to maintain a well-hydrated body, especially when exercising. However, even though sports drinks may keep the body’s balance of fluids at a proper level, most people should stick to drinking water. Sports drinks may not be as bad for you as sugary sodas and juices, but there is no fundamental difference between these drinks, aside from the fact that the sugar content in sports drinks is sometimes a tad bit lower.
- Low-carb snacks
Low carb diets have been popular throughout the decades, and for many good reasons. In the last 12 years, studies concluded that low-carb diets help promote weight loss and good health. Of course, food manufacturers caught up on the trend and released various low-carb “friendly” options to the market, including highly processed food like the Atkins bars. If you examine the ingredients list, you will notice that there’s no real food in these bars, only chemicals, and refined ingredients.
- Gluten-free junk food
A 2013 survey revealed that about a third of Americans are actively avoiding gluten or limiting their consumption of foods that contain gluten. Not surprisingly, food manufacturers have released a wide assortment of gluten-free foods to the market.
The problem with processed gluten-free options is that, in most cases, they cause the same negative effects on the body as their gluten-containing counterparts, if not worse. These highly processed foods contain few nutrients and are often made with refined starches that can spike blood sugar levels.
Gluten, especially from modern wheat, can cause problems for many people with celiac disease. If you are following a gluten-free diet, opt for foods that are naturally gluten-free, not gluten-free processed foods.
- Vegan junk food
Vegan diets are immensely popular nowadays, often due to environmental and ethical reasons. However, many people also go vegan for the purpose of improving their health.
Becoming vegan is easier than ever now that mock meats and dairy-free alternatives to cow’s milk and cheese are available. The list of processed vegan foods on the market continues to grow, all of which are sold as convenient replacements for non-vegan foods. Vegan bacon is a primary example, which is usually processed and bad for almost anyone, including vegans.
Always review product packaging to confirm whether the food you’re putting in your body is good for you. And remember, truly healthy foods are whole single-ingredient food.