Honestly speaking, when it comes to healthy foods, there’s a lot of misleading information out there that influence our perception of food. Unfortunately, and this might come as a shock to many, the foods that you actually thought are healthy, aren’t. Social media, celebrities, and advertisements makes us believe that foods with buzz-words like gluten-free, all-natural, low-fat, diet, lean, and sugar-free are healthy and full of nutrition. Most of these foods have added sugars, oils, sodium and other not-so-healthy ingredients that you’d be better off avoiding them altogether or opt for homemade alternatives.
1. Flavored Yogurt
Flavored yogurt contains artificial sweeteners with a high sugar content that negates the health benefits of yogurt. This colors, sweeteners, and dyes are carcinogenic and may contribute to a series of health conditions.
Despite the hype, the majority of yogurt in the stores don’t really contain any fruits, just flavors. To make matters worse, the frozen variety with unhealthy toppings are sugar traps that do injustice to your diet. Your best bet is to go for plain Greek yogurt and use natural fruits like bananas or fresh berries as toppings.
2. Prepared Salads
Salads should be healthy and nourishing. But when buying prepared salads, you might not be getting the health benefits you’re supposed to. Most of the salads in restaurants contain sugar and are high in calories. And another thing, the hygiene of the salads is not guaranteed. Making your own salads at home ensures they are clean and healthy. Plus, you won’t need any artificial additives such as unhealthy salad dressings to improve the flavor or extend shelf life.
3. Instant Oatmeal
Instant oats are usually loaded with unhealthy sugars, sodium, and maple syrup. This is not a healthy option when it comes to healthy foods. Your best alternative is to opt for whole grain oats, which include steel-cut, rolled or old-fashioned oats. For a healthy breakfast, avoid unhealthy additives that are full of sugar and use fresh fruits instead.
4. Canned Soups and Vegetables
You always hear that you should eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. So, you reckon that canned vegetables are a good idea. Unfortunately, they are packed with sodium and other preservatives which strip them of their beneficial nutrients. When looking for pure nutrition, fresh vegetables and fruits are great. However, depending on your location, you might not always lay your hands on fresh vegetables – frozen vegetables are equally great and they don’t come loaded with sodium. By contrast, ready-to-eat frozen meals are harmful because of the sodium content and other preservatives. If you’re always on the move, steam some veggies and cook healthy lean protein and stock them in your fridge. They make for an easy grab, and they are healthy too.
5. Breakfast Cereal
Cereal is a common breakfast food in many households. Apart from being delicious, cereal is convenient and can be ready in one minute. However, they are not as healthy as the advertisers would like you to think. Even those labeled ‘whole grain’ do not qualify on the health meter scale. This is why your favorite breakfast cereal is not a healthy food choice:
- They are highly processed and carry near zero nutrients.
- Breakfast cereal are high in sodium.
- They are high in sugar.
- They could potentially cause a spike in your blood sugar. For a healthy breakfast, go for whole grain oats and natural fruits like strawberries, bananas, and nuts.
Home cooked popcorn are a healthy source of fiber and antioxidants. But the packaged variety not so much. They are usually laced with preservatives to increase shelve life and most ingredients used may be toxic. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, packaged popcorn releases a chemical known as PFOA when cooked, which is classified as potentially carcinogenic. The packaged popcorn contains added salt, sugar, and fat. It is preferable to buy popcorn kernels and cook them on the stove top to get their full benefits.
7. Granola and Protein Bars
Granola is a delicious breakfast option that’s highly fibrous and nutritious. However, what could otherwise be a really healthy treat is layered with sugar and oil during processing, not forgetting added flavors and dried fruits or nuts. Did you know that the serving size of granola is a quarter of a cup? Odds are that you’ve been eating way too much than the recommended serving size, racking up on calories. One cup of granola can carry more than 400 calories before adding milk. Next time you buy granola, check the ingredients and stick to the recommended portions. Better still, make your own granola at home for untainted health benefits. The same goes for protein or energy bars, which may physically look healthy with chunks of fruits, nuts, and rolled oats. But the ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils suggest otherwise.
Food for Thought
Packaged foods always look appealing and healthy. But, if you get into the habit of checking out the ingredients first, you can save yourself from eating unhealthy foods.
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