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So, you decided to clean up your act and eat only healthy and wholesome foods. Your grocery basket is no longer filled with chocolate bars, processed foods, and your favorite brand of cola. Instead, you pick up healthy alternatives, like granola bars, low-fat products, and fruit juice. You might think that you are making the best food choices for your health. But food labeling can be deceptive. What looks like naturally nutritious food might be nothing more than fake health foods that will do you no good at all.
Some foods that are marketed as healthy are not what they seem. Some so-called healthy alternatives contain the same trans fats, artificial colors, hydrogenated oils, and added sugars as their unhealthy counterparts. They really are just junk food wrapped in labeling making you believe you are making healthy choices.
So, don’t be caught out by the food industry’s advertising spin. Check out this list of ten fake health foods to ensure that your eating is as healthy as you think it is.
What could be a healthier snack than dried fruit? Well, the truth is that things like dried apricots and raisins are nowhere near as healthy as you might have thought.
Drying out fruit removes some of the water-soluble nutrients. And the drying process concentrates the sugars. Some brands of dried fruit also contain added sugar or have a sugary coating. The true sugar content, both natural and added, of dried fruit surprises most people.
If you want to eat real fruit on the go, you’d be much better off eating a piece of fruit like a fresh apple or pear.
Yogurt is often packaged as healthy because of the gut-healthy probiotics that it contains. But it would be advisable to choose your yogurt wisely.
Most flavored yogurts are really just vehicles to deliver tons of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. They often contain flavorings or toppings that are high in sugar, even the fruit-flavored varieties.
And some luxury brand yogurts are enriched with full-fat cream. If you love yogurt, your best option would be to buy plain whole fat Greek yogurt. Then you can add fresh fruit and natural toppings to make a delicious, healthy snack.
Crunchy Vegetable Chips
Veggie chips and sweet potato chips sound like they should be a healthy alternative to regular chips. Some brands even have sea salt instead of ordinary salt to add to the illusion of healthiness. These are some of the worst offenders of fake health foods.
The problem with many of these snacks, though, is that the food companies make them from highly refined products. And they contain way too much sodium of any kind. Crunchy vegetable snacks are never going to be as good for you as the real food alternative. They have loads of calories but little nutrition.
If you want healthy snack foods, try eating some raw vegetable sticks instead. Fresh carrots with homemade hummus are a great and tasty alternative to crunchy vegetable snacks.
A delicious drink brimming with the juice of natural fruits must be nutritious, right? Well, if you make your smoothies at home, that might well be the case. But if you buy a smoothie in a store, you might get a lot more than a cup of refreshing blended fruit.
Store-bought smoothies are usually loaded with sugar and contain only a limited amount of fiber. In some cases, you might even find 50 grams of sugar in a single serving of a grocery store smoothie. That is equivalent to 12.5 teaspoons of sugar in your smoothie! That is your daily recommended total of sugar in one snack.
So, if you are a big fan of smoothies, whip up your own in a blender home. Or, even better, snack on a bowl of fresh strawberries instead, and get the full benefit of the fruit.
Flatbread sandwiches are often marketed as a healthy alternative to bread sandwiches. It looks like you are eating less when you eat a thin flatbread sandwich.
But the truth is that this is just another fake health food for which there are much better alternatives. Flatbread often contains more calories than regular bread because it is denser. And the wraps you buy in stores are often larger than sandwiches.
And don’t be fooled by the flatbreads that contain spinach or tomatoes. There is so little of the vegetable in flavored flatbreads that it makes no nutritional difference whatsoever.
If you want to cut down the calories in your sandwiches, opt for open sandwiches. Or give the sandwiches a miss altogether and try a crisp and healthy salad instead.
Oatmeal provides a delicious and nutritious start to the day. But, while instant oatmeal may take less time to prepare, it is certainly not as healthy as the genuine article.
Check out the list of ingredients of instant oatmeal. You will probably find that an unhealthy portion of sugar is included with the oats. And you might see some other worrying ingredients there, too, like flavorings, preservatives, and fruit-flavored pieces.
If you want to enjoy the true goodness of oatmeal, make your own from scratch. Then, you can be sure of what is in your healthy breakfast.
When you can’t resist a cookie, you might think that a low-fat or fat-free snack would be a healthy option. But when manufacturers reduce the fat in food products, they usually replace it with sugar to enhance the flavor.
Watch out, too, for foods that proudly boast they contain 25% less fat. You will usually find that something equally as harmful has been added. And 25% less of a lot of something bad for you still leaves 75% too much!
Not all multigrain or wholegrain bread is as healthy as you might imagine. The main ingredient in some of these types of bread is enriched flour, which will give you a sugar spike and crash, but very few nutrients.
Fake whole grain and multigrain bread contain a few whole grains, but enough to do you any good. So, it is best to avoid any bread with enriched flour as the first ingredient. Instead, look for bread that lists whole grains as the main ingredient.
Granola is another “health” food that has been hijacked by the big brands and turned into something unhealthy. Whether it is the granola bar you thought was a healthy snack or the granola you sprinkle on your yogurt, it is probably high in fat and packed with sugar.
The primary ingredients of granola, like nuts and seeds, are highly nutritious. But when you add sugar and other unhealthy ingredients, many mass-produced granola products are anything but healthy.
Trail mix should be the perfect snack for people on the go and those hiking the trail. But, as most trail mixes contain candy as well as dried fruit and nuts, this is another fake health food that’s not as good for you as it looks.
Indeed, in many brands of trail mix, the sugar-coated chocolate pieces are the main ingredient. So, you get a large helping of calories and artificial colors and flavorings in every handful.
The most nutritious trail mixes contain no added sugar, dried fruit, and a modest amount of high-quality dark cacao chunks. So, check the ingredients carefully on the next pack of trail mix you buy.
The above is only a small selection of advertised healthy foods that are really unhealthy foods. They are perceived as healthy because of clever advertising from food manufacturers.
Of course, not all health food is fake, but you must be careful about the food you eat. So, read the label on foods that you buy, even if they are sold as health foods. Be on the lookout for added sugar, sodium content, and added preservatives. Try hard to minimize artificial ingredients and gravitate towards real foods. Your efforts to maintain the desired body weight will improve greatly when you move away from fake health foods.
If you want to eat a healthy diet then focus on eating fresh whole foods and have a balance that with daily movement.
If you are looking for healthy food alternatives, check out some of our articles here:
- The Best Vegetables for Breakfast
- The Best Meal Prep Snacks to Curb Your Food Cravings
- Jillian Michaels Diet Plan