Unhealthy foods are the main reason the world is fatter and sicker than ever before. Surprisingly, some of these foods are considered healthy by many people.
Here are 15 “health foods” that are really junk foods in disguise.
1. Processed “Low-Fat” and “Fat-Free” Foods
The “war” on saturated fat is the biggest mistake in the history of nutrition.
It was based on weak evidence, which has now been completely debunked.
When this started, processed food manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon and started removing the fat from foods.
But there’s a huge problem… food tastes horrible when the fat has been removed. That’s why they added a whole bunch of sugar to compensate.
Saturated fat is harmless, but added sugar is incredibly harmful when consumed in excess.
The words “low-fat” or “fat-free” on a packaging usually mean that it is a highly processed product that is loaded with sugar.
2. Most Commercial Salad Dressings
Vegetables are incredibly healthy.
The problem is that they often don’t taste very good on their own.
That’s why many people use dressings to add flavour to their salads, turning these bland meals into delicious treats.
But many salad dressings are actually loaded with unhealthy ingredients like sugar, vegetable oils and trans fats, along with a bunch of artificial chemicals.
Although vegetables are good for you, eating them with a dressing high in harmful ingredients will totally negate any health benefit you get from the salad.
Make sure to check the ingredients list before you use a salad dressing… or make your own using healthy ingredients.
3. Fruit Juices… Which Are Basically Just Liquid Sugar
A lot of people believe fruit juices to be healthy.
They must be… because they come from fruit, right?
But a lot of the fruit juice you find in the supermarket isn’t really fruit juice.
Sometimes there isn’t even any actual fruit in there, just chemicals that taste like fruit. What you’re drinking is basically just fruit-flavored sugar water.
That being said, even if you’re drinking 100% quality fruit juice, it is still a bad idea.
Fruit juice is like fruit, except with all the good stuff (like the fiber) taken out… the main thing left of the actual fruit is the sugar.
If you didn’t know, fruit juice actually contains a similar amount of sugar as a sugar-sweetened beverage.
4. “Heart Healthy” Whole Wheat
Most “whole wheat” products aren’t really made from whole wheat.
The grains have been pulverized into very fine flour, making them raise blood sugar just as fast as their refined counterparts.
In fact, whole wheat bread can have a similar glycemic index as white bread.
But even true whole wheat may be a bad idea… because modern wheat is unhealthy compared to the wheat our grandparents ate.
Around the year 1960, scientists tampered with the genes in wheat to increase the yield. Modern wheat is less nutritious and has some properties that make it much worse for people who are intolerant to gluten.
There are also studies showing that modern wheat may cause inflammation and increased cholesterol levels, at least when compared to the older varieties.
Whereas wheat may have been a relatively healthy grain back in the day, the stuff most people are eating today is best avoided.
5. Cholesterol Lowering Phytosterols
There are certain nutrients called phytosterols, which are basically like plant versions of cholesterol.
Some studies have shown that they can lower blood cholesterol in humans.
For this reason, they are often added to processed foods that are then marketed as “cholesterol lowering” and claimed to help prevent heart disease.
However, studies have shown that despite lowering cholesterol levels, phytosterols have adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and may even increase the risk of heart disease and death.
Butter was demonized back in the day, due to the high saturated fat content.
Various health experts started promoting margarine instead.
Back in the day, margarine used to be high in trans fats. These days, it has less trans fats than before but is still loaded with refined vegetable oils.
Margarine is not food… it is an assembly of chemicals and refined oils that have been made to look and taste like food.
Not surprisingly, the Framingham Heart Study showed that people who replace butter with margarine are actually more likely to die from heart disease.
If you want to improve your health, eat real butter (preferably grass-fed) but avoid processed margarine and other fake foods like the plague.
Recommending trans fat laden margarine instead of natural butter may just be the worst nutrition advice in history.
7. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks were designed with athletes in mind.
These drinks contain electrolytes (salts) and sugar, which can be useful for athletes in many cases.
However… most regular people don’t need any additional salts, and they certainly have no need for liquid sugar.
Although often considered “less bad” than sugary soft drinks, there really is no fundamental difference except that the sugar content is sometimes slightly lower.
It is important to stay hydrated, especially around workouts, but most people will be better off sticking to plain water.
8. Low-Carb Junk Foods
Low carb diets have been incredibly popular for many decades now.
In the past 12 years, study after study has confirmed that these diets are an effective way to lose weight and improve health.
However… food manufacturers have caught up on the trend and brought various low-carb “friendly” processed foods to the market.
This includes highly processed junk foods like the Atkins bars. If you take a look at the ingredients list, you see that there is NO real food in there, just chemicals and highly refined ingredients.
These products can be consumed occasionally without compromising the metabolic adaptation that comes with low-carb eating. But they don’t really nourish your body… even though they’re technically low-carb, they’re still unhealthy.