We all know that a big bag of chips or a chocolate muffin is bad for us. The more health conscious among us try to steer clear of these foods and eat low fat, 'healthy' foods instead to lose weight. But the foods that you think are incredibly healthy might actually be causing you to gain weight, and increase your blood pressure. Here are some of the most commonly believed 'healthy' foods, as well as the proper alternatives that you can use instead. Prepare to be shocked....
1) Breakfast Cereal
"No, no, I won't have a big fry-up, I'll just have a bowl of Corn Flakes instead. To be healthy". Stop right there. Despite the aggressive marketing that states that breakfast cereals are rich in Vitamins A to Z and fiber, almost all of them are packed with sugar and chemicals as well. Stay away from the likes of Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes, Special K or Bran Flakes. They're almost as bad as Frosties or Coco Pops.
The healthiest thing you can eat in the morning, believe it or not, is eggs (and, if you want to spoil yourself, bacon). These foods are extremely rich in protein, which build muscle rather than fat. And remember, muscle is smaller than fat. They have a little bit of fat in them, but it's far healthier, more nutritious fat. If you're not a fan of eggs though, porridge is a decent alternative, or even try Shredded Wheat.
2) Processed Low-Fat Foods
Products with 'low fat' or 'fat-free' written on them, such yogurts, tin of vegetables or biscuits, are actually worse for your health than the regular versions. They'll make you gain weight faster. The reason for this is that food without fat in it tastes awful. To compensate, a ton of sugar and oils are added, to make the product edible. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as milk, but as a basic rule of thumb, go for the regular, full fat option. Carbs are far, far worse than unsaturated fats.
3) Sports Drinks
Another victim of aggressive marketing, sports drinks are advertised as a magic elixir that turns you into a model athlete. Bullshit. The only real difference between sports drinks and regular sugary drinks is that there might be slightly less sugar in the sports drink. A barely noticeable amount. They contains electrolytes, which are useful for professional athletes (they helps control hydration when under physical stress), but regular people have no real use for them. The best option for hydration is simply water.
4) Whole Wheat Bread
Packaged loaves of whole-wheat bread are more or less on par with loaves of white bread. The grains themselves are just grinded into a fine flour, which raises blood sugar just as fast as white bread. When your blood sugar runs high, your body works harder to get rid of the excess glucose. As a result, your body thinks it's lost weight when actually, it's just lost water. Following on from this, your body starts over-retaining fluids to compensate for dehydration, which causes you to gain weight.
As you might have guessed, bread in general isn't a healthy food to be eating. Un-sliced loaves of brown bread, from a bakery, are a little healthier. Your best bet is to take it easy, when it comes to bread. Salads are better. But then maybe that's a little too optimistic.
5) Salad Dressings
Everyone knows a salad is good for you. It makes sense: fruits, veg, etc, all extremely healthy foods. The problem is that they rarely taste that nice, like you're eating a cold tree. To make up for this, almost every cafe, restaurant or diner will add a salad dressing to make it tastier, which ruins the whole purpose of the salad in the first place. Always ask for the dressing separately. Most dressings are filled with excess fats, oils or sugars. A salad covered with one of these dressings are as bad, or worse, than the original non-healthy option, which is (usually) high in protein to balance the fats and carbs. If you're going to opt for the salad option, either go without dressing or make your own!
6) Processed 'Organic' Food
Just like the 'low-fat' foods, 'Organic' foods are next to useless. They differ from product to product, but if they're in a packet, they are no healthier than the regular option. Ingredients have been replaced (sugar is replaced with organic raw cane sugar), but the overall result is identical. You're not losing any weight with those 'organic' chocolate fudge brownies, believe me.
7) Vegetable Oil
We're usually advised to eat vegetable oils. Vegetables = good, right? As it happens the vegetable oils are far more processed than olive oils, and as a result, are much higher in cholesterol. So go with the natural options. They might say they increase the risk of increasing blood cholesterol, but that's just a risk, not an indisputable face.
8) Fruit Juices
Another example of processed food messing up something completely healthy. You assume that apple juice and orange juice are good for you, that they're one of your '5 a day'. In actual fact, a lot of these drinks don't even have fruit in them, just chemicals that taste like fruit. Essentially, you're just drinking fruit flavoured sugar water, which is almost as bad as any fizzy drink. Again, water is the better option. Other than that, make you own using a juicer or even just a plain simple squeezer. Delicious and far more nutritious.
9) Artificial Sweeteners
It makes sense that people would think artificial sweeteners are good for you. Sugar is bad, so artificial was surely invented as a healthy alternative, right? Wrong. While they might be sugar free, artificial sweeteners generally have quite high calories. They also contain ingredients that increase your blood sugar dramatically, which, as we learned from sports drinks, can cause you to gain excess weight.
As well as that (and this part is a little scary) artificial sweeteners are broken down into small amounts of dichloro fructose, a chemical that the human body has an intolerance for. A large intake can have side effects including skin rashes, panic, diarrhea, headaches, bladder issues and stomach pain. No thank you.