5 'Healthy' Foods That Are Actually Bad For You
Everyone knows that certain foods are bad for you and should only be consumed occasionally. But it’s easy to think you’re being healthy when you’re actually not. If you’re trying to keep your level of saturated fats or sugar down, it’s worth looking out for some food types that are not always as healthy as you might think!
We’ve taken a look at five typical so-called "healthy foods" to call out those you should avoid.
Low Fat Foods
It’s tempting to think that low fat alternatives to our favourite foods are the answer to our cravings but often they are not. Food manufacturers may take out the fat, but they have to substitute the fat with something to give the food flavour. This is normally either sugar or salt. According to a recent UK study, low fat and zero fat foods can contain 10% more calories and 40% more sugar than their normal counterparts. So next time you reach for the low fat yoghurt or crisps, we recommend taking a look at the other ingredients in there,
Alternative: Stick to the normal fat option but keep an eye on your portion size.
Energy and Cereal Bars
Many cereal bars contain more sugar than a Mars bar, but often people don’t realise it. It’s particularly true for bars that contain a mountain of dried fruit. If you want to stick to lower sugar energy or cereal bars, look for ones which mainly consist of seeds and nuts.
Alternative: Have a handful of nuts. These will probably stave off hunger pangs more effectively than a bar anyway. If you really want a cereal bar, Kind bars contain less sugar than most.
If you buy granola, make sure you read the nutritional content on the package. While the core ingredients – oats, seeds and nuts- are healthy, often manufacturers add a lot of sugar. A bowl of granola can end up having more sugar than a bowl of Crunchy Nut cereal.
Alternative: Make your granola at home from oats, seeds and nuts. Alternatively Lizzie’s and Kellogg’s both offer low sugar granolas.
Fruit Juice and Smoothies
Some of the worst offenders in terms of sugar, are fruit smoothies and juices. Often a 250 ml glass of smoothie contains more sugar than a glass of coke. There are few exceptions to this.
Alternative: It’s much better to eat fruit whole rather than turning it into juice, because the skin contains fibre. As we discussed in a previous blog, a modest increase in fibre consumption can reduce the risk of many major diseases.*
If you really want to drink a smoothie, dilute it with some water. Or alternatively start from scratch and make it yourself, using almond or coconut water – instead of fruit juice - as a base. Plant based drinks are typically much lower sugar than juice.
Raisins and other dried fruit such as dried mango or apricot are very high in sugar and also bad for your dental hygiene because they cling to the teeth. These days such dried fruit often comes in the form of dried fruit bars, which are also marketed to children and should be avoided.
Alternative: Grab some blueberries or pre-chopped fruit which are much more refreshing. Try carrot batons with houmous or sliced apple with peanut butter.
Please let us know which healthy snacks you've discovered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add them to our blog.
Please note that Claire is not a professional nutritionist so these tips are based on tried-and-tested methods and may not work for everyone.
*According to the Lancet a mere 8 gram increase in fibre in your daily diet can result in a 19% decrease in the risk of heart disease; a 15% decrease in type II diabetes; and an 8% decrease in the risk of colon cancer. The national fibre recommendation for adults is 30 grams per day.