Most of us are doing something to try to eat healthier. And most of the time time, we truly believe in what we’re doing. As far as we’re concerned, we’ve cut out all the bad stuff and we’re only eating things that are doing our bodies good. But food is a complicated thing. And it’s not always obvious, thanks to the marketing, what is good for us and what isn’t. On top of that, we often have to deal with contradictory diet messages from the professionals. Just this week an article was released claiming that we should all go on a high-fat diet, contrary to popular belief. With all this confusion in the diet space, this post couldn’t come soon enough. The following are a list of 9 foods that are secretly wrecking your health.
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Before cereals came along, what did people eat for breakfast? Well, often it was the leftovers from the meal that they had had the night before. Usually, that was something including veggies or potatoes. Not all that appetizing.
But then along came the cereal manufacturers in the middle of the twentieth century, offering people an easy breakfast. Right from the start they did this with the best of intentions. They wanted to wean people off fried meats that were ruining their health and get them onto food that they perceived was more natural.
Sure, cereals were convenient. But unfortunately, cereals weren’t as healthy as these early pioneers thought. And they were also bland. So manufacturers started adding lots of sugar, and you know the rest of the story.
High levels of sugar and refined starch are bad news for your liver and bad news for your waistline. But fear not, there are cheap, easy and healthy alternatives. Buy cereal that is explicitly whole grain. And then add chopped fruit to sweeten. If you’re looking for a lower fat, lower calorie milk, switch from cow’s milk to almond milk.
Granola sounds like the perfect healthy breakfast. Here we have a blend of rolled oats, nuts, and a little dried fruit. Oats and nuts, in particular, have been linked with a whole raft of health benefits, like better heart function and lower mortality. So what’s wrong with granola?
Well for starters, it’s moreish. You start with a full, 750g packet. But just a couple of days after you’ve been shopping, it’s all gone.
Second, unlike oats made with milk or water, it’s not all that filling. Traditional oatmeal fills you up because of the way the water and the fiber interact in your stomach. Granola, being dry, doesn’t have the same filling effect.
Third, and most importantly, most shop-bought granolas are high in sugar, fat, and butter. In a way, they need to be, in order to get the granola to stick together into delectable little chunks. But doing this destroys a lot of the health benefits. In other words, granola can be just as bad for you as sugary cereal, leading to problems like obesity and type II diabetes.
There are some healthier granola brands. And there are healthier alternatives to granola, like muesli.
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Dried Fruit And Nuts
Nuts are fantastic for your health. And dried fruit isn’t bad either. But they only convey their beneficial effects when eaten in moderation. Because dried fruits and nuts are so calorie-dense, it’s often easy to eat a lot more than we need. Too much of either can pump your body full of calories it doesn’t need.
Whether dried fruits and nuts can damage your health remains to be demonstrated in the lab. But, until we have definitive data, it’s worth being cautious.
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Condiments are great. We pour them over our french fries. We smother them on our burgers, and we use them to make meat and cheese taste more exciting.
But condiments have a dark side that we rarely consider. Many are full of sugar and fat. And just a small serving can often contain many more calories than we expect. It’s possible for condiments to account for 15 percent of your daily calorie needs, quite easily. And when you consider that most of them contain very little goodness, these are wasted calories.
Some condiment companies have moved decisively to change this. Now there are options, like Hampton Creek plant-based foods, which skip on a lot of the junk for a healthier alternative.
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When people think about going on a diet, salads are usually the first thing that comes to mind. Often it’s an image of a rather Spartan-looking affair, with just a few lettuce leaves lining a bowl.
But to truly make salads satisfying and filling, you have to go heavy on the dressings and the meat. Many salads are topped with cheese, bacon, oil, and meat, all of which are calorie-dense. And this ruins the diet of anyone looking to reduce the number of calories that the are eating. A typical Caesar salad can contain over 400 calories, most of them from fat.
If you’re going to make salads, make them yourself. This way, you’ve got some control over what goes into the dressing and what goes on top of the salad. Opt for things like grilled veggies, nuts and seeds, mushrooms and avocado over bacon and cheese.
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Energy bars are often marketed to us as healthy. They contain whole grains, fruit, and nuts, all of which are excellent for you individually. But energy bars have a darker side. A lot of energy bars are high in refined sugar, and many use glucose syrups to bind all the ingredients together. This, in turn, reduces their nutritional quality.
Next time you stop off for an energy bar, check the label. Ideally, the ingredient list will be super short – just a few whole food ingredients. But many manufacturers add in all sorts of extra ingredients to improve shelf stability and prolong life. And unfortunately, this makes it less healthy.
If you’re organized with your snacks, you may be able to cut energy bars out of your diet altogether. Instead of energy bars, you could pack a box of cucumbers, whole wheat pita slices, carrot sticks, and hummus.
Peanuts, like other oilseeds, are good for you. But peanut butter? Not so much – at least as it is sold at present. The problem is that manufacturers very often add salt, sugar and palm oil to peanut butter. Why they do this remains a mystery, since it doesn’t enhance either flavor or shelf life.
Salt and sugar are problematic, as you are probably aware. But in most peanut butter, they only comprise a tiny fraction of the product. The real problem in most commercial peanut butter is the palm oil. It’s a plant oil, but one of the few that contains a high proportion of saturated fat. It’s why gives peanut butter that characteristic, thick and globular texture. But it’s not good for you. In fact, it has the same effect on your body as animal fat, clogging up your arteries and ruining your fitness.
Some advice: stick to nut butter without the additions.
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It’s only in recent years that smoothies have become a thing. People assume that they are healthy because they contain only good things, like whole fruits and vegetables. But smoothies have a darker side, and are one of the 9 foods that are secretly wrecking your health.
One problem is that they are a lot easier to eat than the whole food itself. This means that they hit the stomach a lot faster and spike blood sugar more rapidly. There’re two things you can do to solve this. One is to drink smoothies slowly, to mimic the effect of eating fruit. The other is to stop blending only after a few seconds. This helps some of the fiber in the fruit remain in tact so that the sugars aren’t absorbed immediately.
Another problem is that smoothie recipes often call for a lot of fruit juice. Fruit juice, just like soda, is sugar water. And there is nothing to prevent the sugar from rapidly entering the bloodstream nor anything to bulk out the calories. Next time you make a smoothie or buy one from the shop, make sure they don’t include any added fruit juice, like apple juice. You just want whole plant food, blended.
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Coleslaw is another of the 9 foods that are secretly wrecking your health! Yep,that delicious side salad that many restaurants serve alongside meat is really not as healthy as you think. Many dieters expect that coleslaw is a health food. After all, it contains all the right things: cabbage, onion and carrot. Yet, as with so many other “health foods” it’s the dressing that causes the problem. By all means, munch all day on cabbage and carrots, but hold the dressing. Coleslaw dressing is usually made from rich mayonnaise, full of fat. And it’s thanks to mayonnaise that just a small serving of coleslaw can add up to a whopping 250 calories.
There are solutions, however. Take some white cabbage, red onion and radishes, carrot, fresh coriander and chilies. Then bath these ingredients in the lime juice and a little salt for a delicious, low calories alternative. Serve with homemade bean burgers and gherkins.
Were any of these 9 foods that are secretly wrecking your health a surprise to you? Quite a few were to me; and some of those are a few of my favorite foods to eat. Thankfully there are some things we can do to make those foods heathier so we can still enjoy them!