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Bad food in disguise: 8 foods on our supermarket shelves we should stay clear of

Diana Farid

Let’s get healthy and go shop for low fat, low sugar, low carb, no sugar, multigrain products in the market. Stop. Think.

Are these really healthy?

Food manufacturers often use smart marketing (example: green packaging to indicate health) to disguise junk as health food, and that’s what we end up consuming the most.
Here are some of the most unhealthy foodstuff on supermarket shelves that you need to be wary of:

  • Granola bars Granola bars One of the biggest traps we fall for is looking at granola bars as a healthy snack. Truth is Granola is packed with sugar and calories which makes it far from being natural – a trick that we are all made to believe through the marketing campaigns of big brands like Nature Valley, Alpen, and Kellogs. It contains hydrogenated oils, preservatives, sugar, artificial flavours and loads of calories.
    Dr Khaled El Mokdem, a nutritionist with VLCC, says: “The most dangerous component of granola bars is 'trans fat' which are artificially produced unsaturated fats. Despite us thinking it is a healthy treat, we are eating something that raises the cholesterol levels in the body. Moreover some brands opt to use fibre types that are hard to digest so it looks healthy for its fibre content but it is not at all. It can make you gain rather than lose weight due to its high content of oils.”
  • Energy drinks Energy drinks Energy drinks sales have soared over the last couple of years; all the marketing campaigns of brands like Red bull, Burn and Power horse intend to make us believe that the drinks make us alert, energetic and enhance our cognitive functioning.
    “The first problem with energy drinks is the high calorie content followed by the concentrated caffeine that increases the heart rate. A reason why it is proscribed for people with heart problems,” says Dr El Mokdem. Studies show that energy drinks can cause irregular heartbeats and sudden hikes in blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attacks and sudden death. “There have been reported cases abroad of death caused by some famous energy drink brands,” he adds.
    [Image courtesy: Matteo Paciotti via Flickr]
  • Dried fruits Dried fruits We like to think that dry fruits are healthy, portable snacks; fruits are healthy but the additives are not.
    Additionally the dehydration process sucks out all the nutritional components in the fruits, so once fruits are dried we eat sugar and calories with barely any nutritional value. “Dried fruits lose 50 to 60% of its water solvent vitamins which means you lose out on nutrients you would have got, if you ate the fruit fresh. Not to forget the high percentage of preservatives,” he adds. “It is okay to eat dried fruits in moderation but it is very dangerous to depend totally on it for your fibre intake. Have it once a week or even once a month.”
  • Frozen foods Frozen foods With a busy schedule, frozen foods are an easy alternative for most people. “Frozen foods are actually loaded with sodium, acids and preservatives so it has nothing to do with freshness and health. If they are low on calories, they are also low on nutritional value,” according to Dr El Mokdem. “The closer we are to the fresh state of a given vegetable or fruit, the more nutritious and the healthier it is.”
  • Diet Sodas Diet Sodas All sodas contain chemicals and acids that are bad for you and increase your waistline. “Diet sodas are becoming a real health threat because 'the zero sugar factor' encourages you to take larger quantities of it. Despite the absence of sugar in such drinks, the high soda content itself poses many health risks on the organs,” he explains. Diet sodas mess with your metabolism. Studies have also linked the tendency to put on weight to over-consumption of diet soda.
    [Image courtesy: Kenudigit via Flickr]
  • “Fat-free” goodies “Fat-free” goodies We are under the impression that anything free of a certain component is healthy, but this is not the case. “Every food product contains fat, carbohydrates and protein. Manufactures choose to cancel one of them in order to label it as fat free or carb free to make it more appealing to consumers. But this is dangerous as in order to compensate for that component the manufacturer includes additives, sugars and chemicals that creates an imbalance in the natural food structure,” he explains.
    When our body is exposed to unbalanced foods for long periods of time, it damages the liver. It can also increase the uric acid secretion in the long run.
    [Image courtesy: Dugbee via Flickr]
  • Fruit yogurts Fruit yogurts Most fruit yogurts are full of sugar. It is better to opt for raw yogurt and add the fresh fruits at home. “Because the fruits in the readymade fruit yogurt are usually processed, they have high sugar content and preservatives. So the fresher, the better.”
    [Image courtesy: Eltpics via Flickr]
  • Artificial sweeteners Artificial sweeteners Want a cup of coffee and reach for the Sweet & low or Splenda or Tropicana slim? These sweeteners send out a false message to your body, thereby making your pancreas secrete insulin even when there is no actual glucose intake, explains Dr El Mokdem. “When you eat a real sweet afterwards the body sends less insulin than needed. Which is unhealthy.”
    “Don’t depend solely on artificial sweeteners. There has to be a mix of that and natural glucose so that your body reacts and behaves normally,” he suggests. And remember, low sugar products are by far better than no sugar products.
    [Image courtesy: Revjdevans via Flickr]

     

 

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