In recent years, people have become more health-conscious, and the food industry seems to have responded. “Health foods” have become commonplace on our shelves, but are they really all good for you? Packaging can be deceiving. In fact, many foods that are marketed as healthy might actually be sabotaging your diet.
This post is dedicated to one of the biggest culprits behind fake health foods: hidden sugar. For everyone making an effort to eat healthy, this is for you.
But isn’t fruit good for you?
The answer is yes. The fruits (and sometimes vegetables) in your smoothies are not only nutrient-packed, but also delicious. But a smoothie, especially if you buy it, will often contain more than just fruits. If you read the fine print of the ingredients, you will discover that most of the times, commercially-made smoothies can also contain sorbets, ice creams, or frozen yogurt, which means there could be a lot of added sugars in your “healthy” drink.
Alternative: This doesn’t mean you should rule out smoothies as a whole. Instead, aim for whole-fruit smoothies and watch the ingredients list. Even better: blend you own!
2. Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt, especially greek yogurt, has been marketed as an essentially guilt-free food. It comes in all sorts of flavors, is packed with protein, and even has fat-free varieties. But beware, for most flavored varieties are still packed with added sugars; it is not uncommon for a single personal cup to contain 16 grams of sugar! To add perspective to that, the sugar content is nearly equivalent to half a cup of vanilla ice cream. You may also find that it is actually better to avoid fat-free yogurt as well; manufacturers often load them with even more sugar to compensate for the lack of taste.
Alternative: Check the nutrition facts before buying. Or, one could opt for plain yogurt and add slices of fresh fruit on top. If slicing fruit is too much of a hassle, go for the berries.
3. Granola bars and Whole-grain cereals
Whole grains in themselves have more nutrition than their super-processed, bleached counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have loads of refined sugars. In some granola, breakfast, and energy bars, there is so much sugar that you might as well have a serving of cookies instead.
Alternative: Some bars derive their sugars from dried fruits, so you can try to make a distinction. As with all things, it’s a good idea to consult the nutrition and ingredients labels before buying.
It’s frustrating to acknowledge, but a lot of “health” foods turn out to not be very healthy at all. It can be disappointing because the misleading packages make it easy for people to buy into sugary foods, despite their best intentions to eat healthy.
For the long haul, it’s best to check the labels and think before buying. Until the food industry becomes more honest, it’s the only way to really eat your best.
Love, energy, and health,
(Additional notes on sugar: A lot of times, high sugar content is due to the addition of dried fruits. While fruits also contain sugar, the general consensus is that natural sugars are not as harmful as added sugars. Natural sugars do not cause abnormal spikes in blood sugars because of how they are chemically “packaged” and processed by the body. Ideally, though, they should also be consumed in moderation. Still curious? Refer to these links to start (x) (x) (x).)
BY: Ashley Minooka