You can’t set foot in a supermarket these days without being bombarded with packages featuring health claims. This snack bar is low in fat, while this juice is chock full of antioxidants, and that candy is sugar free. It’s hard to separate the fiction from the facts when it comes to so-called healthy foods, and in the end most consumers end up thoroughly confused. A good place to look for advice on what to eat and what to avoid is the medical community, as doctors tend to have a firmer than average grasp on what’s healthy and what isn’t. Doctors can often see through the promotional gimmicks and choose food that’s truly good to eat, despite claims on packages. Here are eight healthy foods that aren’t healthy and that most doctors won’t even touch.
Margarine was developed in the late 1800s and became popular during the Second World War, when butter was rationed. After the war, it continued to grow in popularity mainly because it contains unsaturated fats. The thinking was that these healthier fats would help lower cholesterol. The truth is there is no evidence that the use of margarine reduces the incidence of heart disease. Now, many food researchers believe margarine to be worse for you than good ol’ butter, because most brands contain trans fats, which are actually worse than saturated fats. Butter is better.
- Fruit Juices
Unless fresh and raw, no matter how good it tastes, fruit juices are to be avoided, even if the label says, “100% juice.” The reason is these processed juices are a health negative because they have been pasteurized. The heat the juice is exposed to during pasteurization destroys the enzymes in juice. Without the enzymes, the carbohydrates in the juice become refined sugar, which robs nutrients from the body. If you’re thirsty, drink water with some freshly squeezed lemon, lime, or orange juice in it. If you’re craving fruit, eat a piece of fruit; it will fill you up, and you’ll get the added benefit of fiber. Otherwise make fresh juice, if you have a juicer (which is a good investment).
- Canned Soups
For a quick hot lunch, canned soup may seem like a healthy option, but check that label. Most canned soups, even from health food stores, contain exorbitant amounts of sodium, which can make you retain water and feel bloated. Plus, if you have heart disease or are predisposed to heart conditions, excess sodium is something you want to avoid, as it raises blood pressure and, with it, your risk for things like stroke and heart failure.
- Diet Sodas
They contain no sugar, so surely diet sodas must be healthy — right? Actually, no. Diet sodas get their sweetness from artificial sweeteners, which are chemicals. These chemicals have been shown to interfere with all sorts of bodily processes, from insulin production to liver function to healthy cell growth. They are toxins after all. It’s also been shown that people who drink diet sodas have a tendency to overeat (https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/diet-soda-linked-overeating). Skip the diet and drink water instead.
We are told of all the benefits of drinking milk, especially for calcium. It is interesting that America is one of the highest milk consuming countries in the world, yet we are highest in calcium deficiency—primarily as osteoporosis. There are two reasons for this. One, if the milk has been pasteurized, the enzymes that are needed to absorb the calcium are destroyed. Two, after age two, most humans quit producing the two digestive enzymes (renin, and lactase) necessary to digest milk, thus, poor absorption. And yes, this means that, to various degrees, virtually everyone is lactose intolerant. Substitute almond or cashew milk.
- Snack or Energy Bars
These convenient snacks have been touted as not only being better than cookies or candy, but healthy. Not necessarily. Read the label; not all bars are created equal. They can contain sugar, corn syrup, soy, preservatives, fillers, refined seed oils, and/or saturated fats. There are snack bars available that contain all raw ingredients. These truly are health bars.
Unless unsweetened, yogurt has a problem. Most yogurts on the shelves contain 20 or more grams of sugar per eight-ounce serving — about the same amount as a candy bar. Check the label.
- Low Fat Foods
The problem with low fat foods is that in order to make them taste good (since fat is flavor), the fat is replaced with sugars and salt, which add to weight gain, increase risk for heart disease, and rob vitamins and minerals from the body.