[box]Walking through a health food store you may expect to see food and products that are indeed healthy for you. This is not the case though, it is shocking just how many unhealthy things are marketed and sold as healthy. Bombarded with false claims and clever marketing tricks, how do you see beyond the smoke and make the right decision? For a start, take a look at the 8 Unhealthiest health foods below.[/box]
The 8 Most Popular Unhealthiest Health Foods
Granola Bars / Protein Bars
Marketed towards children as a healthy snack food that leaves you feeling satisfied and filled with nutritional benefits, granola bars are simply a glorified chocolate bar. Filled with sugars, unhealthy carbohydrates and containing little to no nutritional value whatsoever. Causing a severe glycemic spike which leads to a crash, leaving it very hard to focus when children are either wired for sound, or fighting off a nap.
Protein bars are no different and are often worse than most granola bars. Densely packed bars filled with unhealthy calories, saturated fats, sugars, carbohydrates and countless synthetic preservatives or flavor enhancers. Often marketed toward weight lifters to give a long lasting energy boost with added protein to improve muscle growth. This is simply not the way to go about it, the energy boost is primarily just a sugar high, and the added protein pales in comparison to a handful of almonds.
Yogurt makes fairly bold claims about improving digestive health and calcium benefits, while this is true among a proud few, it is by far the minority. Flavored yogurts claiming no sugar are filled with even more harmful artificial sweeteners, probiotic benefits are lost in a flood of health hazards. Calcium enhancement is lost completely without the addition of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 to improve absorption and distribution. 1 billion cultures are simply no match for the countless synthetic additives. Stick to a pure greek yogurt and add fresh berries or vanilla to get the benefits without the hazards. If you need a bit more sweetness opt for pure organic honey or my favorite sweetener Xylitol.
If you are not buying pure organic peanut butter made with 100% peanuts then you are one of few who have actually read the ingredient list in conventional peanut butter. Most peanut butters contain enormous amounts of confectioners sugar, giving it its smooth sweet taste. Aside from the sugar content, there are huge amounts of unhealthy fats and preservatives that are extremely harmful to your health. Peanut butter and toast has never looked so unhealthy, it is essentially a peanut flavored candy spread with minimal amounts of actual protein.
Eating dried fruit is a perfect example of health food gone terribly wrong. Most dried fruits are covered in syrups or added sugars to make them taste like candy, even untreated the dried fruits contain large amounts of sugar. Huge amounts of sugar and also calories make these masked invaders one of the most widespread health food myths. Opting for a fresh fruit version will increase water content, leaving you feeling full quickly, preventing overeating and flushing the natural sugars through your system more effectively.
It is important to limit your overall fruit intake everyday no matter fresh, frozen or dried. Stick to berries if possible, as many other fruits contain little nutritional value and high sugar contents. Berries may also have a fair bit of natural sugar, but they offset this with powerful antioxidant qualities scarcely found in other foods.
Used as a substitute for butter, this hydrogenated abomination has had people fooled for years. Marketed as a healthy alternative to butter (pure butter being one of the healthier fats to use, alongside extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil and others) it has been campaigning on its ability to improve heart health. A laughable claim when you understand just how unhealthy hydrogenated fats are.
This butter alternative is best left on the shelves, look for pure organic butter instead. Due to the high caloric intake of either margarine or pure butter, always use in moderation to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.
Another fatal fat marketed as a healthy choice is vegetable oil. First of all, to clarify which oils exactly we are talking about, here is a list of a some of the most commonly used unhealthy vegetable oils:
These oils are extremely high in polyunsaturated fats that contain enormous amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids (the unhealthy ones). When our ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids is unbalanced, it is very harmful to our health. Increasing the risk of cancer, fatty liver disease and greatly increasing cognitive impairments.
These fats are used in virtually every restaurant across North America, also found in nearly every kitchen and used with alarming frequency.
Breakfast cereals are among the worst meals to start your day with. Modified corn starches, unhealthy grains and heaps of sugar are found in nearly every cereal available. Worse than this, we often pour milk over it before we eat it, adding even more sugar to the mix.
Cereal is often marketed as a healthy and nutritious breakfast choice, imbued with trace amounts of some big name vitamins and minerals. All in a backwards attempt to fool the consumer into thinking they are making a healthy choice for themselves and their families. Cereal being among the favorites for before school meals, setting children up with enormous sugar highs, followed by the inevitable lows of the sugar crash. Leading to reduced concentration, ADD symptoms, diabetes and the onset of further disease.
Tofu / Soy Products
Soy products have people truly fooled, an exceptionally popular choice for those who are trying to keep their health in mind. A seemingly great choice for vegetarians or vegans, how can it be bad for you, its soy afterall.
While some soy is exceptionally good for your health, this is a very specific type of soy found primarily in the eastern countries. Fermented soy offers a plethora of fantastic health benefits that can be a huge boon to any healthy diet. Over in North America though, soy is causing severe harm to those consuming it regularly.
Soy products cause an imbalance in our hormones, leading to any number of health risks and unappealing symptoms. Making it a very dangerous food to consume on a regular basis, certainly not suitable for everyday consumption.
Take Your Health Into Your Own Hands
Don’t let all these ad campaigns and tricky marketing tactics fool you, educate yourself on foods to avoid and make sure to always check the labels before you buy something. Regardless of the claims it makes, the ingredient list never lies. It can certainly be ambiguous, pitching terms like “artificial flavors” or “color” the harder it is to understand, the more likely you should avoid it completely. Look for ingredients you would use yourself, natural and organic are best, there is always a healthy alternative that tastes great!
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