Posted on 07/16/2015 at 12:00 AM by Embria Health Sciences
By Dr. Lisa Metzgar, PhD Holistic Nutrition:
Labels these days can be so confusing. There are many foods that are touted as healthy or natural but are really unhealthy foods cleverly disguised. The food industry is very smart about how they use marketing to sway you into buying their products. They use buzzwords like “All-Natural”, “Low in fat” and “Cholesterol Free” to make you believe their products are healthy and good for you. For example, just the other day I saw a package of a popular brand of licorice and it claimed to be “Fat Free”. Really? Is that supposed to make it healthier for you?
At least we all know that candy can’t be all that good for you. What’s worst is that there are foods out there touted for being a healthy alternative when they really aren’t any better. Here are the top 5 deceptive “health” foods that really aren’t so healthy:
1. Granola bars – Most of your commercially processed granola bars are glorified candy bars. A popular national brand contains high maltose corn syrup and maltodextrin, which are not found in nature. The result is a highly processed product with lots of sugar.
2. Yogurt – Most yogurts have a ton of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Take a look at the labels of the yogurts whose target market is children…yikes! Parents think they are doing something healthy for their kids by feeding them yogurt when in reality, it is just filled with addictive sugar. One popular yogurt brand is marketed to help balance your gut with healthy probiotics. The problem is that this brand is loaded with sugar, which can cause an imbalance in gut health by feeding unhealthy bacteria.
Instead of the high sugar brands of yogurt, get a plain Greek yogurt (Greek yogurts have more protein in them and are very creamy) and add your own fruit. I like using Greek yogurt in my smoothies. Greek yogurts contain probiotics to keep your gut healthy, but don’t forget your prebiotics. Prebiotics are food for those beneficial bacteria and can more easily make it through your digestive tract. Look for dietary immune health supplements with EpiCor, which has been shown to act like a prebiotic in sophisticated digestive models.
3. Oatmeal – Not all oatmeals are created equal though. Minimally processed oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which helps remove bad LDL cholesterol from your body by binding to it in the intestines and carrying it out of the body before it enters your blood.1 Studies show that oatmeal can actually reduce bad cholesterol levels.2 However, the more processed the oatmeal the more of this nutritious fiber is removed. All those flavored instant brands are highly processed and contain a ton of sugar. Instead, buy the old fashioned oats that you have to cook or steel cut oats for optimal health benefits.
4. Whole Wheat – Did you know that many “whole wheat” breads aren’t really 100% whole grain? If it says 100% whole grain then by law it has to be, but if it says 100% wheat it is most likely processed.3 We think we are doing our body good by eating whole wheat breads, but if you look at the label you will find that it is almost or just as bad as white bread. Here is a sample of the ingredients in a commercial “whole wheat” bread brand: Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% or less of : soybean oil, salt, molasses, yeast, mono and diglycerides, exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium iodate, calcium dioxide), datum, calcium sulfate, vinegar, yeast nutrient (ammonium sulfate), extracts of malted barley and corn, dicalcium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, calcium propionate (to retain freshness)
Yikes! I don’t even know what some of this stuff is. If you can’t identify the ingredient in nature…it is wise not to eat it. If you need to eat bread, go for the sprouted grain breads that contain more dense nutrition.
5. Peanut Butter - Most brands of peanut butter are loaded with sugar. Even some of the brands that claim to be sugar-free can be bad for you, because they contain unhealthy oils. Here is my tip for buying healthy peanut butter…the label will only have one ingredient…peanuts (maybe a little salt as well). If you have to stir it, it is an all-natural peanut butter.
So the moral here is… watch those labels. The food industry wants you to buy their products and will make claims to confuse you. If you buy any kind of packaged foods make sure they contain ingredients you can identify and as natural as possible. Of course the best way to eat is to stay away from the packaged food aisles in the store and buy whole food ingredients.