Think you’re eating healthy? Think again! There are a number of foods we consume on a regular basis that we believe to be perfectly healthy… or at least not unhealthy. Don’t fall for the flashy marketing of these health foods; it’s time to educate yourself on which popular health foods should be avoided and find out why. We’ll also offer some ideas for wholesome alternatives to these common dietary choices.
Here are the three top unhealthy healthfoods:
1. Fruit Juice
You’ve known since you were a child that fruit is a health staple. If fruit is so good for you, what about fruit juice? The difference between fruit and fruit juice is the absence of fiber and the high serving of sugar. Biting into an apple, you are reaping the benefits of all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber the fruit has to offer. The importance of fiber cannot be overstated. It helps to stabilize blood glucose levels, ensuring you avoid a sugar crash, while it regulates digestion. Fruit juice contains no fiber but still holds the same amount of sugar, if not more as artificial sweeteners may be added.
Nearly impossible to avoid in the grocery store, sugar has made its way into the Western diet in a big way. According to the USDA
, the average American consumes nearly 100 pounds of sugar every year! This highly addictive health hazard has been the subject of numerous studies linking its consumption to cognitive decline
, heart disease
, and cardiovascular disease. Stripped of nutrients and loaded with sugar, fruit juice is far from a health food. Stick to the safe choices with water, tea, and coffee. If you want fruit, then eat a piece!
One of the biggest nutrition trends to sweep the nation during the past few years is probiotics. These live bacteria organisms have been proven in a variety of studies, such as this one from Nutrition in Clinical Care and this one from Gut Pathogens, to be extremely beneficial for your health. Helping to regulate digestion, rid you of acne, and improve mood, these little guys are only going to grow in popularity. One of the best sources of probiotics is fermented milk products such as yogurt and kefir.
While kefir hasn’t quite caught on, yogurt has always been a popular dietary choice. The problem is that many companies are jumping on the probiotics bandwagon with only your money in mind. The majority of yogurts in your local dairy aisle are loaded with refined sugar and minimal, if any, probiotics! As we discussed above, sugar will only cause havoc on your body. If you want the real benefits of probiotics without the worry of the complications caused by sugar, look for an organic brand with several probiotic strains. You can also try milk or water kefir, sauerkraut, or fermented pickles. All have the highest probiotic content and are considered super foods.
3. Canned Foods
Is there anything more convenient than a can of nutrient packed vegetables and fruits? Made with a long shelf life in mind, canned foods have revolutionized how we look at food. Simply open the can, place the vegetables on the stove, and heat for a few minutes. Could it get any easier to eat healthy? Unfortunately, for the consumer, there is a hidden cost to that convenience.
Food cans are lined with a variety of chemicals that assist in preserving the food’s long shelf life. One of these chemicals is called Bisphenol A, or BPA. Due to its prevalence in our food supply, along with household items, this industrial chemical is becoming a major concern in the medical community. Several research studies, such as this one published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives, have discovered a connection between BPA and hormonal imbalances in women. What’s more, those who are in the most danger are expecting mothers.
BPA leaks into canned foods, with an emphasis on acidic foods such as pineapple, but it also can get into your foods via plastic. The heat from hot food, such as when you place freshly cooked chicken in a Tupperware container, releases the BPA in the plastic, allowing it to leech into your meal. The easiest solution is to stop buying canned products and focus on fresh or frozen foods.
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