Foods That Wear a Health Halo But May Not Warrant Space On Your Plate

Packaging and diet trends can tempt you to eat certain "healthy" foods. However, some of these foods with a so-called health halo aren't as healthy as you think they are.


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Drawing the line between healthy and junk food may not be as easy as it seems. A bit of clever marketing can easily lead you into thinking a food product is healthy. Looking at the labelling of some of these products, you'd swear they're the cure-all for all your health issues. You'll see buzzwords like ‘superfood’, ‘all-natural’, and ‘organic’ being thrown around all over their labelling. These products are said to wear a health halo because of their claimed benefits.

It feels good to spend a few extra dollars on healthy products when making a health-conscious decision. But for the sake of your wallet and of course, your health, are these food products really what they claim to be? Here are some foods that wear a health halo but don't deserve space on your plate.

Plant/nut-based milk
Nut milk is a healthier alternative, as it is packed with a plethora of essential nutrients that can bring you closer to your daily dietary needs. For instance, we all know dairy milk to be a great source of calcium, but did you know most nut milk packs at least the same amount or more calcium than dairy milk? In addition, it serves as a stomach-friendly option if you're lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy products.

The only catch for nut milk would be that it may be a little bland and chalky for the general palate. Many brands solve this issue by flavouring plain nut milk with sugar or sweeteners to enrich its dull taste. This is why you should check for any added sugars before picking your carton of nut milk from the shelf.

Whole wheat bread
If you find yourself browsing through the whole wheat bread section in your local market, chances are, you're a bread lover and you're trying to cut down your calorie intake. When it comes to picking the whole-wheat option, however, you have to be especially careful. Why? You can label any bread 'whole wheat' as long as there's a speck of wheat in its ingredients list. And if it isn't 100% whole wheat, the product is likely to contain enriched flour, which is a big red flag in the health book.

Enriched flour not only gives you a sugar spike followed by a crash just like any sugary food would, but it also means the bread has been stripped of its nutrients. So make sure to check the ingredients list to make sure it's the real ‘whole wheat’ you're getting.

Low and fat-free foods
Fat isn't always bad. It's an essential part of a healthy diet but saturated fats have grown to be infamous. Moderate fat intake isn't going to do you any harm, and in fact, it’s essential to fulfil your daily nutritional intake! When a food product is advertised as low fat or fat-free, there's a big chance they're using sugar to make up for the lost taste. Sugar is commonly added in large amounts too, which would do the opposite to your weight loss journey.

Fruit juices and dry fruit
Fruit juices taste great, but are they really good for your health? Fruit juices do contain the nutrients found in fresh fruits. However, in terms of sugar content, fruit juices are no better than a can of soda.

When it comes to dry fruits, they are densely packed with calories, and almost all of it comes from their sugar content. Water makes up 80% of the composition of the average fruit. This means that when food has been ‘dried’, the calories of the fruit remain the same but it’s been shrunk to a fifth of its size. This is why when we compare the sugar content of a dry mango to its fresh counterpart, the former has over 4 times more sugar per gram than the latter!So make sure, when consuming any snack or beverage that’s fruit-related, keep a close eye on the amount of sugar you’re consuming by limiting or counting the number of treats you’re eating.

The bottom line
If you're looking for healthy food then in most cases, you'll need to cut down on processed foods. When these foods are advertised as being sugar or fat-free, they'll probably include something to make up for it. This can end up as "fat-free" food with incredibly high sugar content or sugar-free food with a ton of chemicals and artificial sweeteners.Never let these ‘health halos’ be the sole decider of what goes on your plate. Always make sure you read the nutritional information on the packaging before picking something up.




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