5 Foods That Aren’t As Healthy As You Think

So you’ve decided it’s time to start watching your diet and cut back on the junk food. Easy enough,right?  Just drop the cheeseburgers, soda, and pizza and you’ll be good to go. Well, not so fast… It just so happens that much of what you assume are healthy food options may be quite the opposite. Let’s uncovers the ambiguity behind these secretly unhealthy foods.

It’s a bit daunting to think that even in this age with instant access to nutrition-based content on the Web, there’s a lot of misinformation. Make no mistake that quantity and context are ultimately what determines whether or not foods are promoting your health (or taking away from it). We’re all different,with different body types, different goals in and out of the gym. That being said, if you’re trying to be more health conscious then your diet should be focused on nutrient-dense foods that aren’t loaded with calories and artificial additives. Here are the five foods that may seem healthy, but are secretly bad for you.

CEREAL & GRANOLA BARS
We’re only one food item deep and you’re probably already in shock. Sure, not all breakfast cereal and breakfast bars are inherently unhealthy. However, some of the breakfast cereal-based bars, like SpecialK and Cornflakes bars, are not nearly as healthy as they seem. In fact, the first ingredients in a lot of these bars is a form of processed flour followed immediately by sugar.

Most consumers are savvy enough to know that Rice Krispies and Reeses Puffs cereal bars are probably not going to be healthy options, so they get tricked into buying the aforementioned “healthier” cereal varieties. Even the classic granola breakfast treats tend to be packed with calories and little nutritive value beyond that. Heck, just one cup of granola can pack a whopping 600 calories because of all the added sugar and fat!

Our advice is to swap out these traditional cereals (and cereal bars) for whole-grain options that are high in fiber, like rolled oats. There are tons of ways you can make your very own whole-grain foods with much healthier nutrient profiles.

DELI MEATS & COLD-CUTS
Deli meats/cold cuts have been a staple in Western (and European) diets for decades, which might be part of the reason why obesity rates have been taking off in these regions as of late.

The harsh truth is that these meats are processed with tons of added sodium for preservation (not to mention other additives like nitrates). Even two modest slices of the average deli turkey can contain upwards of 30% the recommended daily value of sodium.

And let’s be honest, very few people make a cold cut sandwich with two small slices of turkey; odds are they’re packing on at least four to five slices, which is almost their days-worth of sodium right there. Moreover, the sodium content isn’t the only issue with cold cuts; many of them are also loaded with saturated fat (like salami and corned beef).

If you absolutely want some cold cuts in your diet, your best bet is to opt for lean, sodium-reduced choices, and limit them to one serving per day. Better yet, just swap them out for lean unprocessed protein sources like chicken and turkey breast.

DRIED FRUIT
Dehydrated and dried fruits are often touted as being a guilt-free snack, especially for kids. After all,they taste amazing and are made from nothing but fruit, right?  Wrong. Dried fruits are typically fried in oil and loaded with sweeteners. Not to mention, a lot of the micronutrient content is lost in the process.

There’s a reason dried fruits tend to taste quite a bit sweeter and crunchier than their raw counterparts. What’s more, one serving size of dried fruits is not nearly as satiating as raw fruit, and the fiber content is nonexistent. This results in people eating several calorie-dense servings of dried fruits, which can tally upwards of 30+ grams of sugar in a matter of minutes.

Be wary of dried fruit consumption, and keep it minimal if you want to indulge. We suggest opting for raw, whole fruits instead.

LOW-FAT SALAD DRESSINGS
Salads can certainly be a superb healthy option (and a great way to start most any meal). Unfortunately,many people negate the healthy benefits of salads by drenching them in calorie-laden dressings. Yes,they do make salads taste a lot better than having no dressing at all, but even the “light” salad dressing varieties are not as healthy as they seem.

Just one serving of the typical light bleu cheese and ranch dressings can still add upwards of 10g of fat and 100+ calories to a salad. And as was touched on in the cold cuts section, very few people only use two tablespoons of dressing per salad. Not to mention that many people add other extras to their salads, like bacon bits, cheese and croûtons. Ultimately, these supposedly “healthy” salads may pack around 700-800 calories!

With some simple substitutions and creativity you can make salads taste great and be healthy. Try dressing them with vinegar, spices/herbs/pepper, lemon juice and olive oil; you’ll be amazed at how much flavor is added.

FRUIT JUICE
The fruit juice niches has really grown in recent years, with companies producing supposed “all-natural”juices that are marketed as being healthier than whole fruits. There’s no doubt that smoothies and juices can be healthful, particularly if you make them from home with whole foods and no added sugar. Sadly though, when you buy the pre-made options in the grocery store or at restaurants, odds are they are loaded with sugar and calories.

Even seemingly simple, natural fruit juice options still contain added sugar as the second ingredient(remember, many sugars are “natural” but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy in large quantities). Your best bet is to stick to making your own fruit juice at home with whole fruits… or just consuming whole fruit on its own without all the added sugar.

CONCLUSION
With health foods being a major focus of fitness-oriented individuals, it’s about time we put these secretly unhealthy foods in the spotlight. Hopefully you can use some of the alternatives that were suggested in this article to make smarter, healthier food choices on your next grocery shopping trip. Be sure to avoid (or at least) limit the consumption of the foods discussed herein. Your body will thank you in the long run.

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