Unhealthy health foods are foods you believe are good for you but actually may be devoid of nutritional value and filled with ingredients that could make you ill. Over the years, various trends have encouraged consumer to think they should buy low-fat foods, gluten-free, or that they need the latest syrup that is much better than high-fructose corn syrup. Here is some information you need to know about some of the most unhealthy health foods.
Most of the commercially prepared orange juices are so processed that they no longer contain the nutritional components of an orange and are not the equivalent of freshly squeezed orange juice. If the expiration date is 60 days from when you buy it, then you know you are holding a heavily processed juice. But even fresh juice is not as healthy as simply eating an orange because the juice is high in sugar that has been separated from its fiber, making it more detrimental to your health. Getting this much sugar on a regular basis can increase risk for conditions such as gout, hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Also, many commercial juices are found to be high in arsenic. This all makes commercial orange juice one of the unhealthy health foods you should avoid.
Wheat- and gluten-free products
Wheat can cause inflammation and many other problems in the body, so many people turn to gluten-free and low-carb products instead. The problem is that many of these products contain highly processed grain that is not more nutritious and can actually increase your leptin and insulin resistance. While gluten intolerance is thought to be behind many diseases and conditions, you should keep in mind that all types of grain can play a part in causing insulin and leptin resistance. These are underlying causes of many chronic diseases including cancer and diabetes.
Agave syrup and nectar
It may be surprising to you that agave syrup is one of the unhealthy health foods. Some PR person must have spun agave as the healthy alternative to high-fructose corn syrup, but the majority of agave nectar is a super-condensed fructose syrup made in a lab. Many types are highly processed and may contain 55 to 90 percent fructose. As most people use agave syrup when trying to avoid high-fructose corn syrup, this means agave syrup does not offer any special nutritional advantages. Instead use raw organic honey or stevia.
Energy bars are basically expensive junk food marketed as healthy snacks. Most energy bars are made from inexpensive soy protein isolate, high fructose corn syrup, synthetic vitamins, plus waste products from industrial food production. Have you noticed that all of these bars “hide” the “nutrition facts” under that little flap on the packaging? There’s a reason for this – they don’t want you to see what’s actually in the product. Eating apples dipped in peanut butter or almond butter is a healthier choice than these packaged unhealthy health foods.
Some people still believe margarine is better than butter because it comes from vegetable oils, but the oils in margarine are very processed and contain trans fat (from hydrogenation, the process of turning liquid vegetable oils into a solid). Essentially it is a heart attack waiting to happen. Trans fats contribute to heart disease, cancer, bone problems, hormone imbalance and infertility.
Butter, on the other hand, is surprisingly more of a health food—it has vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and other nutrients your body needs. In fact, a recent study has supported the role of more saturated fats in the diet, like those found in butter, to protect against cardiac and heart disease.
Low-fat and fat-free foods
When fats are removed from foods, it leaves them tasteless and unappealing. Then manufacturers have to add massive amounts of sugar, sodium, and chemicals. It is better to stick with unaltered whole foods. They are much better for you, plus they taste better too. Many studies show that it is not the amount of fat you eat but the type of fat you consume that can provide cardiovascular benefits. The Mediterranean diet is not a low-fat diet, but it is good for your heart, brain, prostate, and waistline. Read more about Mediterranean diet benefits.
Foods to avoid
Following is a list of foods and ingredients you should avoid:
- Foods from genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- Growth hormones
- Anything artificial (such as flavorings)
- Food grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizer—buy organic
- Wilted produce that has been on the shelf for a while
Foods to look for
When shopping, look for fresh, organic products. Wilted, older produce is not going to have the same nutritional content of fresh food. Buy foods that that are grown or raised in sustainable operations, which is better for the environment and health of the soil your food is grown in. Buy animal products that come from free-range animals that are not caged or confined. The animals should be fed their natural diet instead of grains and animal byproducts they would not normally eat. If you buy locally grown food you can support your local farmers while getting food that does not have to travel far to get to you, so it should be fresher and therefore more nutritious. Following these guidelines will help you find true healthful foods rather than unhealthy health foods.