Health and fitness are all the rage. Many foods labeled “natural” and “healthy” are actually junk. Here are the ten worst offenders.
1. Processed low-fat and fat-free foods
Many foods labeled “low-fat” and “fat-free” are actually highly processed and loaded with sugar. Examples are fat-free flavored yogurts. Need something that’s fat-free? Make sure the product isn’t packed with sugar or additives, and that it’s actually lower in calories than the regular version.
2. Commercial salad dressings
Many premade salad dressings can make eating vegetables unhealthy, because they're packed with sugar, vegetable oils, trans fats, and additives. You can easily make your own salad dressing using balsamic vinegar, honey mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice.
3. Fruit juices
Fruit juices are notoriously high in sugar and calories, and are usually made from concentrates that contain artificial colors and flavors. If you’re craving juice, try 100% organic kinds; they aren’t from concentrate. Mix them with some mineral water to further reduce the calories.
4. Whole wheat breads
Unless the label says “made from 100% whole wheat” and “all natural,” you should stay away. Most whole wheat products aren’t really made from whole wheat. And they contain refined flours, sugars, and other unhealthy additives.
All-natural margarine is fine to eat. In fact, they actually top butter when it comes to heart health. But beware: Some margarine products found in supermarkets contain trans fats, processed oils, artificial colors, and artificial flavors. Look for 100% organic margarine, which you may find in health food stores.
6. Sports drinks
Sports drinks are nothing more than sugar, artificial flavors, salt, and potassium. People ordinarily don’t need additional sodium, which can cause excess bloating and dehydration. You’re better off drinking plain water.
7. Low-carb breakfast bars and shakes
Science has now debunked the low-carb fad. Contrary to popular belief, low-carb diets do not help you to shed pounds quicker than do healthy, balanced ones. Most low-carb replacement meals on the market are filled with highly refined ingredients and chemicals. If you’re looking for a low-carb bar, then check out Kind Bars. They are 100% all natural and have no additives.
8. Agave nectar
One of the most popular natural sweeteners around is agave syrup, which can be found in health food stores. However, agave syrup is no better than sugar. If you’re trying to cut back on the amount of sugar you consume, then try stevia, an all-natural sugar-free sweetener.
9. Vegetable oils
Vegetable oils — soybean oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil — have been shown to increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. Instead of using vegetable oils in cooking, you should try such natural fats as butter, coconut oil, and olive oil.
10 Processed breakfast cereals
Most cereals are loaded with sugar, refined carbohydrates, and artificial additives. Before buying cereal, check to see the ingredients, and look for those that are 100% organic and have next to no sugar.
Better foods to eat when you can't eat better
Earth Balance all-natural margarine
These margarine spreads are made from 100% natural oils and have zero trans fats. They’re also vegan, non-GMO, and use expeller-pressed oils.
Cascadian Farms Healthy Morning cereal
This cereal contains granola, bran, and whole grains with 8 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per serving. And it has only 8 grams of sugar.
POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice
This 100% juice contains powerful antioxidants. It has no added sugars or artificial preservatives, and it tastes great as a spritzer.
Food for Life Sprouted Grain Bread
Though these unique breads contain no flour, they do have nutritious grains. They’re high in protein and fiber. And no bread conditioners or refined flours were used in them.
Fage Total Greek Yogurt
This all natural Greek yogurt only contains milk and live active cultures, and is filled with protein.
These all natural bars are low in sugar and carbs. They’re made from whole nuts, fruits, and whole grains, providing you with the fiber, protein, and antioxidants that you need to stay healthy.
- "19 Misleading Foods That Seem Healthy But Aren’t," Spoon University, April 13, 2016.
- "20 Foods That Seem Healthy But Aren't," Men's Fitness, February 2, 2017.
- "20 Foods That Sound Healthy (but Aren’t)," Cooking Light, September 2, 2009.
- "50 Seemingly Healthy Foods that Are Bad for You," Shape, August 10, 2011.