It’s easy to get swept up by the language of “healthy” versus “unhealthy” foods and group everything into these two neat categories, and you might even think you can tell the difference at face value after a little experience. However, some of these common misconceptions might prove it’s more complicated than it looks. Here are some examples of foods that simply aren’t as healthy as you might be led to believe.
Fruit juices and smoothies
This is one of the top ones to watch out for. It’s easy to forget when you’re enjoying a fruit juice blend that it’s probably packed full of natural sugars, even if you’ve just blended it yourself. Bottled ones are likely to be even worse. Although the sugars aren’t as bad as what you’ll find in processed snacks, they’re absorbed straight into your body and quickly take you over the daily recommended limit.
Whole-grain, high-fibre organic cereals are much better than a bowl of Frosted Shreddies, right? Unfortunately, no – they might be almost as bad depending on the levels of sugar or sweetener. Many supposedly healthy cereals are also bulked out with refined grains and “added fibre” which isn’t so beneficial.
Even the healthiest brands of snack bars tend to be hiding some undesirable ingredients. Fibre is usually packed in, but it doesn’t taste of anything good, so it’s most likely concealed behind sugar, oils and other processed additives. Keep an eye out for bars with very few ingredients if you want to enjoy the convenience without the added side effects.
Crisps are one of the most commonly recognised enemies of dieters, so manufacturers have become more sneaky. You might find vegetable crisps in shops that claim to be healthier options, but ultimately the biggest difference is the range of colours they come in. They still use potato starch or corn flour most of the time, and they’re still fried in oil, so you’re not really getting many benefits from the formerly fresh vegetables.
If you’re intolerant to gluten then you may have no choice but to eat substituted versions of certain foods, but don’t be under any illusions about their health benefits. Swapping out the flour for an alternative in any bakery product will usually add nothing in terms of healthy nutrients, and sometimes they’re a little worse. You’ll still need to balance out your diet with other whole foods to improve your diet.