As I venture deeper into the world of nutrition I start to learn more about foods that we are told are healthy but are actually not so good for you, and some could even increase our risk for diabetes or heart disease without us knowing or realizing about the harm these foods could produce in the long run. Today’s post is about breaking down those healthy foods that are actually unhealthy; with specific examples and showing you why these are foods we should be consuming less of or completely eliminate.
# 1. Deli Turkey Slices: I found myself reading that certain brands that sell Deli Turkey have a stamp of approval from the American Heart Association (AHA). At first, I would think this is a good thing, if the AHA approves it, then it must be healthy for me, but looking into this food in detail I learned that the “No Salt Added” option still has 55mg of sodium per 2 oz of meat. It also has cholesterol at 40 mg. But let’s be honest, who orders “No Salt Added” Turkey at the deli? If we look at the oven roasted turkey option, the sodium content per 2 oz of meat increases to 360 mg! That’s more than 6 times the sodium content of the “healthier option. Interestingly enough, the cholesterol actually is half for the higher sodium option at 20 mg per 2 oz. We are not only looking at the sodium content but the overall macronutrient and fiber. There is 0 fiber in this food, which means the food will be absorbed faster into your bloodstream and you’ll probably end up hungrier quickly. If you like to eat a sandwich or wrap for lunch, I would recommend replacing the turkey with some portobello mushrooms and spinach wraps or sandwich. I promise this will keep you full longer.
# 2. Breakfast Bars: A lot of breakfast bars nowadays are promoted as gluten-free, no artificial flavors added. When you read the list of ingredients, you find that breakfast bars have a lot of added sugars, not only is sugar listed as the 2nd ingredient, in most cases, you will also read dextrose, corn syrup, and fructose as part of the ingredients in these bars. I mean: how much sugar do we really need? And in how many different forms? 1 bar can have around 12 grams of sugars, that’s practically half of the total recommended added sugar consumption per day. If you add sugar to your coffee or tea in the morning and then have a breakfast bar, you are close to having consumed all the added sugar in your day before 8 am! Instead of having a breakfast bar, replace this with steel cut oats, blueberries, and bananas. Eating this for breakfast will help you maintain your energy, no sugar crash mid-morning and you are adding some antioxidants which are great for you.
# 3. Casein Protein Powders: These are super popular for those who love to go to the gym and workout, but checking the ingredients list terms like “natural and artificial flavors” are usually the 2nd or 3rd ingredient, but what does this mean? What are natural and artificial flavors? And then you have Carrageenan, which is known to cause inflammation. Consuming carrageenan long term could increase your chances of heart disease, Alzheimer, and cancer. For more information on Casein protein check out Dr. T. Campbell’s book: The China Study. Skip the casein protein powder and substitute with plant-based powders if you really want to drink protein shakes.
# 4. Prepackaged “diet” snacks/foods: examples like fat-free potato chips, or “low sodium” canned soup. Fat-free potato chips may sound like a great substitute for regular potato chips, but you still don’t get much nutrition out of this snack, with little to no fiber, and just refined and processed carbs, the “fat-free” potato chips should be avoided. Also, canned soups tend to have tons of preservative, on top of fats & oils that are not really needed to nurture and feed your body. Instead, make your own chips at home (check out a nice recipe here) and your own soups with fresh vegetables, with no preservatives added.
# 5. Tomato & Spinach Wraps: You’ve seen those red & green wraps in the supermarket, and at first sight it may seem like a good idea, another way of adding more vegetables to your diet, but looking carefully at the ingredients, often times there is almost negligible amounts of these vegetables and instead the product has not only preservatives but also food coloring. How does food coloring help your body? I can’t think of a single positive impact consuming food colorings may have in my meals. Skip these and opt for whole grains, freshly baked breads that have a short shelf life.
I hope this list helps you watch out for those deceiving unhealthy foods and you follow the advice on the foods you could substitute them with. If unsure, make sure you read the ingredient label in the food if it has more than 4 ingredients, it probably isn’t good for you. Best of luck and let me know if there is a food wellness topic you would like me to cover on the blog.