There’s nothing more sneaky than a food product that’s marketed as “healthy” but is actually far from nutritious. Every year, the food industry launches over 250,000 new products for our grocery shelves. While 85-95% of those products fail, there’s something fishy about all these new products, especially those marketed as “good for you.”
Unfortunately, a majority of the packaged products you see advertising miraculous health benefits don’t reveal the full truth. Whole foods such as lean protein, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts don’t need to be re-packaged or processed, yet, most of them are.
These 5 “healthy” foods could be contributing to poor diet, poor nutrition, and tooth decay:
Yogurt sales in the U.S. are steadily growing, reaching nearly $8 billion in sales as of 2015. Somewhere along the line we started believing that artificially flavored Boston Crème Pie yogurt and Strawberry Cheesecake yogurt were healthy. This is partially due to brand marketing that features young, trim individuals happily scooping yogurt into their mouths.
Of course, yogurt does have its benefits, with at least 90 billion probiotic CFUs (colony forming units) per serving and much nutritional value from its natural protein and calcium. But most yogurts you see on the shelves are typically laden with added sugars (up to 30g, as much as there is in a can of soda!) and artificial flavors. Avoid these at all costs, choose plain yogurt and add a teaspoon of honey and some fruit. A favorite yogurt recipe in my home is plain yogurt, a bit of honey, a bit of vanilla and some fresh strawberries and blueberries.
We won’t lie – most granola bars are delicious and definitely curb hunger when you need a quick fix. Granola oats on their own are high in fiber and iron, and are certainly a healthy choice. However, the “healthy” bars you see on the shelves can be culprits, just like the yogurts. Read the ingredient labels to check for the following: brown sugar syrup, dextrose, hydrogenated oils, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). And don’t trust a granola bar filled with chocolate, marshmallows, caramel or fudge. You’re just eating a glorified candy bar.
Convenient snack packs are all the rage lately, from to-go pouches to 100-calorie packs. While some of them contain whole foods, like packets of nuts and seeds, most of them are simply smaller portions of junk food already on the shelves. You might think you’re eating a healthier snack because it’s lower in calories, but in reality, you’re still eating processed carbs and added sugars. On top of that, you might feel tempted to eat more than one pack to satisfy your hunger, which defeats the purpose of the whole product.
Go to any supermarket and you’ll find a variety of delicious looking dried fruit, from mango slices to cranberries to banana chips. You think to yourself, “It’s fruit, it must be healthy.” But take a closer look at the nutrition facts – most of these dried versions of fruits contain loads of added sugar. Take, for instance, dried kiwi slices; one serving (about 6 slices) is 180 calories and contains 23g of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36g of added sugar a day. You’re much better off eating a ripe kiwi from the produce aisle. When you have a choice, always opt for the fresh fruit over the dried fruit.
Thanks to the juicing cleanse revolution, fruit juice remains a popular staple in the modern American diet. What exactly is fruit juice? It’s mostly sugar with some nutrients that are leftover from the fruit they were derived from. Even worse, lots of popular juice brands add more sugar to the naturally-occurring sugars. If you want to drink juice, choose a product with NO added sugars and NO artificial flavorings. If you are letting your kids drink fruit juice it’s always a great idea to have them rinse their mouths out with water after drinking the juice; this helps to prevent acid damage to the enamel on their teeth.