(Based on reporting by Healthline) – Navigating the grocery aisles in search of nutritious foods has become more challenging than ever before, as an increasingly large number of so-called healthy products fill the shelves and compete for your attention.
Food companies often use wording on product labels and in their advertising to appeal to customers who want to make healthier choices. So you’ve probably see claims like –
- Low fat
- Heart healthy
- Low carb
Unfortunately, just because a company uses words like these on a label doesn’t mean the food it good for you. Here are seven of the worst offenders.
1. One glaring example is a breakfast cereal found in millions of homes right now. (Do you have a box?)
In a bold red banner on every box, General Mills claims that its Honey Nut Cheerios “can help lower cholesterol as part of a heart healthy diet.” Yes, it’s the best selling cereal in America, accounting for $481 million in sales per year. Yet WebMD warns:
“While it’s common knowledge that saturated fats can raise your cholesterol, there can be another culprit: A diet high in sugary foods … A sugary diet can spell trouble, not only for your cholesterol levels, but also your overall health.”
“Compared to plain Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios have nine times the amount of sugar in the same serving.” – STATISTA, Sep 22, 2021
If you really want a heart healthy diet, avoid breakfast cereals with excess sugar, which includes not only Honey Nut Cheerios but other top sellers like Frosted Flakes, Honey Bunches of Oats, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms, Froot Loops, Frosted Mini Wheats and many more. SOURCE.
2. (Based on reporting by Health Digest) – Yogurt is often depicted as a great health food option. It contains calcium, protein, and a healthy dose of probiotics. But …
many yogurts have lots of added sweeteners to increase their flavor. Does this make it a junk food item or do the health benefits still outweigh the extra sugar?
Let’s start with the health benefits of plain yogurt. Probiotics bacteria in yogurt can improve your gut health, help with digestion, and support a healthy immune system. Plain yogurt is also high in protein and calcium. Protein keeps you full and helps build strong muscles. Calcium is crucial for strong bones and teeth, as well as proper muscle and nerve function. Yogurt consumption has even been tied to maintaining healthy blood pressure and keeping cholesterol levels low.
However, most flavored yogurts are full of added sugars and sweeteners. Some brands contain over 20 grams of added sugars per serving – more than half the sugar limit the American Heart Association recommends for an adult for a full day.
The healthiest way to enjoy flavored yogurt is to make your own at home by adding fruit to plain yogurt. You can also stir in a small amount of honey. If you want a store-bought option, look for products that contain the lowest amount of added sugar possible. SOURCE.
3. (Based on reporting by Greatist.com) – Protein bars are goooood. But …
are they actually good *for* you?
The answer: It depends on the bar. Nutritional values vary among the many brands and types of protein bars available in stores. It also depends on your personal nutrition needs.
In general, if a protein bar is made with whole foods, has limited processed ingredients, and contains an acceptable amount of sugar per serving, it’s good for you.
Many bars contain high amounts of added sugar or sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, so much so that they’re almost no different from a candy bar. Added sweeteners might make them taste great but can end up doing more harm than good.
And while some protein bars get their fats from whole-food ingredients like nuts and seeds, others use highly processed plant oils like palm, canola, peanut, or soybean oil. The bottom line: Reading nutrition labels is essential in choosing the best protein bar for your goals. SOURCE.
4. (Based on reporting by Eat This, Not That!) – We already know that energy drinks don’t top our list when it comes to the healthiest drinks out there. But …
these caffeinated powerhouses may actually be even worse for our health than we even realized in the past.
Energy drinks are beverages that contain ingredients that, as the name implies, give us a boost of energy. From caffeine to taurine to loads (and loads) of sugar, these beverages are packed with ingredients that are known to support energy levels.
But according to a recent review published in the journal Sports Health, energy drinks should be consumed with caution.
Why? Even though these convenient concoctions can help sleepy-eyed people make it through a demanding workday or a late party night, there are some serious health effects that can occur when these drinks are gulped down:
- They can cause insomnia
- They can lead you to drink more alcohol
- They can make you feel jittery
- They can undercut your mental health
- They can cause acute caffeine intoxication
- They can put a serious strain on your heart
Those who drank 32 ounces of energy drinks experienced outcomes like increased blood pressure 3-4 hours after consumption, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The energy drink consumers also showed negative effects on the heart’s electrical activity in the same study.
Especially if you already have any heart health concerns, you may want to swap out your energy drink for herbal tea or to help keep your ticker healthy. SOURCE.
5. (Based on reporting by Healthline) – Granola bars are often considered a healthy snack, but …
despite these marketing claims, many are loaded with added sugar, calories, and artificial ingredients.
For example, Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Harvest granola bars can contain up to 15 grams of sugar per serving — mostly from added sugar. This equates to nearly 4 teaspoons.
For reference, the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting daily calories from added sugar to 10% of total calories, or 12 teaspoons per day for someone following a 2,000-calorie diet.
Studies show that excess added sugar consumption may put you at a higher risk of several chronic conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Instead of buying premade granola at the store, try making your own granola and granola bars at home. You can use nutritious ingredients like nuts and oats and add sweetness with dried fruit. SOURCE.
6. (Based on reporting by Penn Medicine) – You’ve probably heard that the idea of diet soda being healthier than regular soda is nothing more than a myth. Sure, regular soda is far from healthy, but …
diet soda could be even more dangerous. This news is mind-boggling for most and may leave them wondering “why?” or “how?”
Fortunately, we have the truth about diet soda and what makes it so dangerous.
- It leads to more weight gain
- It has been linked to type-2 diabetes
- It can cause heart problems
- It can increase your risk of having a stroke by nearly 50%
Next time you’re out to eat or craving something sweet, put down the can of diet soda and instead grab a healthier alternative such as a glass of water sweetened with natural fruits. SOURCE.
7. (Based on reporting by Medical News Today) – An increasing number of people are eating plant-based meats for health, ethical, or environmental reasons. But …
brands of plant-based meat vary in their nutrient density and have different nutritional strengths and shortcomings.
Plant-based meats may be higher in sodium. Additional characteristics of plant-based meats and products that a person might wish to avoid include:
- Artificial ingredients: Some people may wish to avoid long lists of artificial ingredients, fillers, or additives.
- Added sugars: A person may wish to moderate their intake of ingredients ending in “ose”, such as fructose, maltose, glucose, even if they do not exclude them altogether.
- Higher calories: This may be especially true if a person wishes to lose weight.
So while plant-based meats may serve as tasty alternatives for those avoiding meat for ethical or health reasons, they may contain lower levels of some nutrients, such as protein, vitamin B12, or zinc, than a regular meat product. SOURCE.
The bottom line
(Based on reporting by Healthline) – Even though food companies market many foods and beverages as “healthy,” some may not be nutritious choices. Many of these foods are packed with added sugar and other ingredients that may negatively affect your overall health.
Plus, many foods marketed as “healthier” options are much more expensive than other products. This is why it’s important to always read the label to investigate the nutrition facts and ingredients of food products, including those marketed as “healthy.” And, in general, try to stick mostly to whole, nutrient-dense foods. SOURCE.
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