Author: Christin Sander, Health Writer
There are many clever marketing gimmicks in the food industry. Words like “natural” and “healthy” are tossed around everywhere, but not regulated. Do you know what you are truly getting? Here are ten foods marketed as healthy that are actually bad for you.
Microwave popcorn is loaded with chemicals, even the light and low-calorie varieties. Instead, opt for air popped popcorn. An air popper is inexpensive and makes popcorn in under 5 minutes.
“Light” Dressings and Sauces
Many of these products remove fat and replace it with sugar and other chemicals to enhance flavor. Natural dressings and sauces can be easily homemade and allow you to avoid the excess calories and other fillers you don't need.
“Fat Free” Flavored Yogurt
Many companies like to brandish the term “fat free” as a health claim, however what it really translates to is “more sugar added”. Excess sugar is converted to fat in the body. Flavored yogurt is very high in sugar, counteracting the positive benefits of the probiotics it contains.
They're not technically a food, but many of these drinks are marketed as “natural” and healthy. Energy drinks in excess lead to adrenal fatigue, causing more chronic problems. They are also hard on the kidneys, can raise blood pressure and promote irregular heart beat.
Whole Wheat & Whole Grain Products
This is a tricky issue with labeling. Unless a product is labeled as “100% whole grain” it is likely still full of refined flours and “enriched” products. This is unfortunately confusing to consumers who see “whole grain” on labels and assume that is what they are purchasing.
Most peanut butters are loaded with extra sugar. Even many “natural” varieties contain extra sugar and salt. Peanut butter that is genuinely natural with no added ingredients and purely peanut butter can be healthy in small amounts, but the proportions of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids are imbalanced in all peanut oil.
Most of these bars are loaded with chemical fillers, fake sweeteners and even sugar. Many “protein” bars are nothing more than candy bars with a little added synthetic protein. They are marketed as healthy meal replacements, but offer little to no true nutritional value.
Rice cakes are often touted as diet-friendly food due to their low calorie count, however they have no nutritional value. Rice cakes are highly processed and refined and not from whole grain sources. The result is low calorie, but also high on the glycemic index meaning it leads to spikes in blood sugar which can actually sabotage the diet.
Margarines have been marketed as healthy substitutes to butter for years, however many of them contain trans fats that lead to heart disease. Highly processed and still high in fat and calories, there is no real nutritional benefit to consuming most margarines over butter.
If you order smoothies in a restaurant, chances are you're consuming more fat and calories than you would be if you bought a large milkshake made with ice cream. Commercial smoothies are often loaded with extra sugar and fat and have little to no actual fruit in them. Smoothies can be healthy when they are homemade with the proper ingredients however.
Don't fall into the common marketing traps of many food manufacturers. Whenever possible, it's always best to create your own meals from fresh, raw foods without all the added fat, sugar and chemicals found in processed foods.