With all the abundant food choices available, it can sometimes be difficult for us to distinguish the right healthier food options for our bodies. Many aren’t aware of this, but most of the “healthy” foods sold in stores today aren’t as good for us as we might have thought initially. Before you consume anything, just make sure that you read the labels carefully so that you don’t get tricked into thinking that those foods are better for you than they really are. Here are 10 examples of those foods:
1. Low-fat peanut butter – When manufacturers develop low-fat peanut butter and remove its natural fat content, they replace it with sugar in order to retain the same great taste of peanut butter. A regular jar of peanut butter usually consists of two grams of sugar per serving whereas a low-fat version consists of up to twice the amount of sugar. Considering that the monounsaturated fat found in peanuts happens to be beneficial to us, we would much rather you choose the regular jar of peanut butter spread.
2. Energy bars – Many energy bars are filled with high fructose corn syrup, added sugar and saturated fat to provide you with the boost that you need. With more than 350 calories each in some varieties, this is a little more than the extra pick me up some people require. Choose wisely or try making your own healthy trail mix or granola bars with organic ingredients.
3. Vitamin-enriched water – A bottle of these drinks contain at least 30 grams of sugar and the origins of these “vitamins” do not come from anything resembling real fortified food. Although vitamins are good for us, you’re far better off eating an orange or having some papaya to get real nutrients.
4. Commercial smoothies – Most smoothies sold at smoothie chains have a base of blended fruit and low-fat dairy, however, they are usually added with sugar syrup, ice cream, sorbets or bottled fruit juices to enhance the flavour. Hence, some of your favourite smoothies can contain up to 500 calories per cup. We suggest blending your own smoothies at home with fruits such as blueberries, banana, apples and strawberries so that you know exactly what goes into it.
5. Multi-grain and wheat breads – Commonly, these breads are labelled with terms like multi-grain and wheat, but they may not actually be made out of heart-healthy whole grains. These breads are typically made with refined grains, so it doesn’t provide you with the nutritional benefits of the actual whole grain. To be sure, check the labels and if it says “bleached” or “unbleached enriched wheat flour”, you’re definitely not getting a 100 percent whole grain bread.
6. Prepared salads – Salads can be healthy, but normally, prepared salads that contain tuna, chicken and shrimp are loaded with hidden calories due to the dressing or oil content. When ordering salads in restaurants or for take-out, check with your waiter about the dressing that goes on your salad. Opt for a low-fat dressing on the side instead of having it tossed together with your salad. Better yet, make your own salads at home and include guilt-free condiments.
7. Diet soda – Calorie-free doesn’t always mean healthy. Drinking diet soda may increase your desire for sugary treats and may mess up your body’s natural system which helps control hunger and appetite. When your brain is tricked into craving more sweets, naturally sweet foods such as bananas or oranges consequently may not taste sweet enough for you.
8. Frozen yogurt (froyo) – Froyo is getting more and more popular amongst Malaysians and is now one of trendiest treats available in the local market. This treat contains a very high sugar content and, although it is a better choice compared to ice cream, most of the froyo parlours offer self-service machines, allowing customers to purchase jumbo sized portions. They are then tempted by the endless array of unhealthy toppings such as candy, chocolate sauce, marshmallows and gummy bears. We say, stick to the smallest portion size and only top your froyo with a teaspoon of roasted almonds or some fresh fruit.
9. Canned soups – Canned soups are very convenient and many dieters use this as a method to control their calorie intake. The trouble with canned soups is that they are loaded with plenty of sodium, fat as well as artificial flavours and preservatives. Even if the label says otherwise, consumers should check the nutritional information and ingredients to make sure of its claims. To include soup in your diet, try making your own from scratch by using chicken or vegetable stock as a base.
10. Granola – Granola makes a great breakfast food and is typically made with nutritious ingredients such as rolled oats, dried fruit as well as nuts and seeds. However, it is also sometimes coated in sugar, molasses and honey, then baked in oil to give it the crunchy texture and taste everyone loves. One cup of granola can pack nearly 600 calories and 20 grams of sugar, so we suggest consuming less of commercial store-bought granolas. If you really can’t help yourself, mix whole grains with one to two tablespoons of granola as a substitute.