Now a day, people are being more health conscious than ever. There are many reasons behinds this, like awareness in people about their health, more and more people getting fatter day by day, the severe disease being common in people of all ages, and the biggest reason of all is the health food industry using health as their weapon to sell their product. If you come into the category of obese and often face the body shaming then probably your only aim in life must have shifted to lose weight and get in shape as soon as possible. Well, if this is what you want then you better be wary of stocking up on so-called healthy foods that are anything but healthy.
It is very important to keep a watchful eye on the ingredients list mentioned behind every packaged food. The clever use of marketing and buzz-words on food and drink products is a big part of the problem. The marketing makes us believe that their products are healthy when they’re actually way far from being healthy. One of the main dangers is that you think the given product is a healthy option and you don’t mind over-eating a bit. Another problem is that when you think a packaged product is healthy you tend to ignore the actual healthy option, for example, eating a protein bar that says it is healthy and is actually not. You might have this instead of having food that is actually rich in protein.
Here we are going to discuss 14 foods that are supposed to be healthy but are mere junk food in disguise according to the experts.
- Packaged Salad Dressings
Sometimes we mess up things thinking we are doing it right. Packaged salad dressings are just like that. Vegetables are very healthy, no doubt but the problem is that they are not that tasty on their own. That’s why many people use dressings to add flavor to the salads. The dressing really makes a difference, but many store-bought salad dressings are actually full of unhealthy ingredients like sugar, vegetable oils and trans fats, and a couple of other artificial chemicals. So, if you are going to have a home-made salad then make sure to have a homemade dressing too or if you are going to buy a dressing from the store then do check the ingredients list before buying it.
- Packaged Fruit Juices
Many people have fruit juice with the breakfast in the morning as they believe fruit juices to be healthy. Well, that must be true as the fruit juice comes from fruits, they are healthy. But most of the fruit juice you buy from the supermarket are not really fruit juice. They are just the sugar solution with artificial color and taste. Well, fruit juice is not as healthy as fruits because there is no fiber in the juice and there is a lot of fiber in the fruits. But fresh fruit juice is still okay to have but store-bought fruit juice actually contains as much sugar as a sugar-sweetened beverage.
- Whole Wheat Products
This whole wheat and multi-grain products are nothing but a business strategy. They are beneficial but for the manufacturers only. Most of the products with a tag of whole wheat are not really made from whole wheat. The grains have been pounded into very fine flour that raises blood sugar just as fast as their refined version. Actually, whole wheat bread can have a similar glycemic index as white bread. So, it is better to avoid these products completely or take it in a limited quantity.
Butter has high saturated fat content and thus people try to avoid it. But they also need something that will take its place. Back in the day, margarine used to be high in trans fats, so people avoided it but these days, it has less trans fats but is loaded with refined vegetable oils. Margarine is actually an assembly of chemicals and refined oils that look and taste like food. So, if you want to eat butter, eat real butter and avoid margarine and other processed food made to fool us and are harmful to our health.
- Low-Carb Junk Foods
These days, people are obsessed with Keto and Low-Carb diets. These diets are proved to be very effective in losing excess weight and improve health. And how can those food manufacturers stay behind? They caught up on the trend and brought various low-carb processed foods to the market. These are highly processed junk foods and many of these have NO real food in there, just chemicals and highly refined ingredients. These foods really are not healthy for you. They are low-carb but actually do not do any good to your body.
- Agave Nectar
Everyone knows sugar is not good for health but only if consumed in excess. But as we started including less and less sugar in our daily consumption, we started looking for the alternatives of the sugar. There are many natural sweeteners in the market that are claimed to be zero calories. One of the many popular natural sweeteners is Agave nectar, also called agave syrup. There is a whole lot of packaged food that has agave nectar in it and is said to be healthy. But actually, Agave is no better than sugar. In fact, whereas sugar is about 50% fructose, Agave contains even more of it, around 70-90%. And thus you can conclude that it is way more harmful than sugar.
- Processed Organic Foods
There is always something new buzzing around in the food industry. These days, organic food is in trend and everyone is running behind it. Food manufacturers are making different and tasty junk food with the label organic, except with ingredients that are organic. Processed foods that are labeled as organic are not always healthy. Do check the label to see what is inside the packet.
- Vegetable Oils
There are quite different types of vegetable and seeds oil present in the market, like soybean oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil and sunflower oil, and many others. These oils claim to lower blood cholesterol levels. And only a few of you would know that blood cholesterol is a risk factor, and not a disease in itself. And the fact is that these oils can cause both heart disease and cancer. They are artificially made oils and do more bad than good for your health. So we suggest you eat healthy and natural fats like clarified butter or ghee, coconut oil, olive oil and mustard oil, and avoid processed vegetable oils.
- Processed Breakfast Cereals
There are lots of advertisements you will see daily on your television about the breakfast cereals and how healthy they are for you and your kids. These breakfast cereals have all sorts of health claims written on the boxes. There are whole grain and low-fat ones are also available in the market but the truth is just a flip away if you pay attention. Look at the ingredients list and you will see that there is refined grains, sugar and artificial chemicals in your cereals.
Granola is one of my own favorite these days but of course the home-made one. There are rolled oats, nuts, a little bit of sugar or dates for sweetness. But the store-bought one has a lot more sugar and extra calories. A bowl of store-bought granola can easily contain around 500 calories. Indulge smartly by either making your own granola at home or choosing high-fiber varieties with low sugar. And always follow the recommended portion size on the box.
- Flavored Fat-Free Yogurt
Again, the fat-free version of anything is just a misleading thing. Just because something is fat-free doesn’t mean it is healthy. Many flavored yogurts have more than 15 grams of sugar in that tiny serving. So, better buy plain or Greek yogurt and add some fruits to flavor it up.
- Dried Fruit
Well, there is nothing wrong in fruits or dried fruit as they contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals. But the problem arises when they are processed for a longer shelf life. Many companies add sulfur and sugar to make it last longer and taste good. It is not with all the dried fruit brands, you can buy unsulfured and unsweetened varieties in health food stores. But why not just eat fresh fruit instead?
- Canned Soups
Canned soups are supposed to be healthy and filling at the same time. But they have more than 400 mg of sodium per cup which is not good. Even the reduced-sodium and low-fat variety is not as healthy as they seem. High sodium can raise blood pressure, lead to bloating, and in general make you feel lethargic.
- Store-bought Peanut Butter
Peanuts come in the category of superfoods and are packed with healthy nutrients like monounsaturated fats. But to increase the shelf life of the peanut butter and to keep its texture same, many popular peanut butter brands add hydrogenated oils, also known as trans fats. When you buy the peanut butter, don’t forget to flip over and check the label and make sure there are no ingredients like ‘hydrogenated oil,’ or even ‘partially hydrogenated oil.
While buying food, you need to be aware that all foods that claim to be natural are not always natural and good for you. In today’s marketing competition, the truth is, if the packaging of a food says it is healthy then it probably isn’t. Actually, healthy foods are the foods that don’t need any health claim, they are whole, single ingredient foods.