5 ‘healthy’ foods that aren’t as healthy as you thought
The Heart and Stroke Foundation is encouraging Canadians to “cut the crap” and improve our diets. Canadians consume huge amounts of saturated fat, sodium and other compounds that contribute to heart disease and strokes, largely due to all the processed foods and other readily available junk we eat.
And while there are plenty of healthy alternatives out there, there’s also plenty of tricky marketing or “healthwashing” that could fool you into thinking some products are healthier than they are. Here are some of the top suspects.
You can find this buzzword in some odd places, including on gummy bears, lollipops and cookies, but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re any better for you.
“Organic is the method of farming,” explains registered dietitian Cara Rosenbloom. “It’s not a health claim. You can take candy made with organic sugar, it’s still candy. So I would love to remind people not to get tripped up on the word ‘organic.’ It doesn’t mean it’s healthy.”
Organic farming might mean lower pesticide levels on the ingredients, but organic candy or sugar is still just that candy or sugar.
READ MORE: Best bang for your buck when buying organic
Bananas are high in fibre, protein and potassium, so banana chips may seem like a healthy snack food. But those chips are often deep-fried and loaded in saturated fats, while containing far fewer nutrients than a fresh banana.
One ounce of banana chips can contain as many calories and as much saturated fat as a small bag or Doritos.
These aren’t necessarily bad, as long as you’re making your own. Any fruit smoothie contains natural sugars from the fruit, but many popular fast-food smoothies are made with ice cream and fruit juice, which adds a ton of extra sugar.
Even a small fruit smoothie from some of Canada’s most popular fast food chains contain more calories and sugar than the standard 355-millilitre can of Coke.
Those “liquid calories” don’t fill you up the way that solid food does, and can be a major cause of weight gain.
Formerly “part of a complete breakfast,” Nutella has wound up in hot water for its nutritional claims. The company lost a $3-million class action lawsuit in 2012 after a California mom was shocked to discover Nutella wasn’t as healthy as claimed. Not even close, Rosenbloom says.
READ MORE: How much sugar is in Nutella?
“If you compare the nutrition facts of a container of Duncan Hines chocolate frosting, they have the same amount of sugar and the same amount of fat,” She says. “Nutella is frosting. It’s not a nut butter, it’s not nutritious, it does not have the vitamins and proteins and minerals that peanut butter has. It should not be in the category in the grocery store with nut butters, it should be in the icings. Not a healthy food.”
Going gluten-free is all the rage, but it’s a nutritional fad that many people don’t really need and could actually be worse for you. Unless you have a medical condition like Celiac sprue, there’s no need to avoid gluten in your diet.
“‘Gluten-free’ has become… this catch-all phrase for things that are healthier, which is hilarious, because there are actually studies that show that gluten-free foods actually have more fat, more salt, more sugar, more refined grains, fewer vitamins and minerals, than foods that aren’t,” Rosenbloom says.
On top of that, popular gluten-free alternatives like breads and pastas often contain far less fibre, vitamins and antioxidant compounds than their regular counterparts.
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