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Surprising foods that are actually bad for your health

Surprising foods that are actually bad for your health

3 minute read time

Are some ‘healthy’ foods really bad for us?

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can feel like a minefield at times. With so many companies marketing such a broad range of food and drink products, it is often hard to know exactly what we’re buying.

This has made it easier for manufacturers to sell all manner of products under the ‘healthy eating’ banner, but when you take a closer look, their ingredients might surprise you.

What should I avoid eating at breakfast time?

The rise of sweetened breakfast cereals in the latter part of the 20th century left the world with a somewhat unhealthy early morning habit. As a result, even the foods marketed to us as healthy breakfast options became problematic.

For example, we often hear about healthy fruit juices, but not so much about the extra sugar and sweeteners added to them. The juicing process also removes much of the fibre we would get from eating a whole piece of fruit instead.

Porridge is another supposedly healthy breakfast and it certainly can be in its simplest form. However, shop-bought instant porridge can be full of sugar and sodium that negate the health benefits of a good bowl of oats.

Granola is a healthy-sounding word but take a look at the packet before you load up your trolley with these sugar-laden cereals. As for ‘healthy breakfast cookies’, don’t even get us started.

Which lunchtime foods are unhealthy?

Buying a salad is a popular way to avoid loading up on carb-heavy pasties and sandwiches at lunchtime. However, many of the pre-prepared salads you find in shops, deli counters and supermarkets are laced with fatty dressings or supplemented with mayonnaise and cheese.

Where possible, check the calorie count on the packet before you buy a salad. It might not be as healthy as you’d expect.

Many vegetarians and vegans use nuts as a snack food at lunchtime, but not all nuts are good for you. Plain, unsalted or uncoated nuts are generally a good source of protein, but dry-roasted, salted or flavoured nuts tend to be packed with additives and unhealthy ‘flavour enhancers’.

If you’re in a rush and feel like an energy bar might be a healthy way to get a quick snack, you might want to think again. A lot of these products are only tasty because they’re filled with sugar and syrup. What’s more, you’ll soon find yourself hungry again when the sugar rush wears off.

What shouldn’t I eat for dinner?

In the 1990s, the western world became obsessed with ‘low-fat’ foods and they still haven’t gone away. Sadly, this label is little more than a marketing scheme and while low-fat products might not be lying about their fat content, you should keep an eye on their sugar and salt levels as well.

The government recommend that we consume no more than 6 grams of salt and 30 grams of sugar per day. This can be easily exceeded though if we don’t pay attention to the levels sneaking into our food.

Yoghurt sounds like a healthy option for dessert, doesn’t it? Especially a low-fat one, but in reality, flavoured yoghurts can contain as much as six teaspoons of sugar (approximately 25 grams), so you’re best off sticking to live, natural yoghurt.

Having a coffee after your meal is commonplace and the dangers of drinking too much caffeine are well documented, but don’t assume decaffeinated coffee beans are much better for you. The chemicals involved in removing caffeine from tea or coffee can be worse for you than caffeine, so you’re best drinking no more than three cups of regular tea or coffee per day.

Further reading

If trying to eat healthily is causing you problems and you think you might have a food intolerance, you may be interested in the following posts:

The difference between allergies and intolerances – these can often get confused but there’s a big difference between an allergy and an intolerance.

Common digestive problems – Digestive issues can be a sign of serious conditions and have also been associated with food intolerance.

The relationship between weight gain and food intolerance – How much of an impact can a food intolerance have on our weight. Find out here.


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