If you’re trying to eat healthy by choosing foods that look like they’re beneficial, you may be in for a big surprise. There are foods that do have health benefits, but when they’re processed they disappear. Not only that, processed foods often have other ingredients added, which often include chemical preservatives to extend their shelf life. Here are some healthy foods to avoid and the reasons why.
Nut butters in a jar may not be healthy.
I included the words, “in a jar,” to indicate processed nut butters sold commercially. Nut butters are an important source of protein and healthy fats. They contain phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fiber. According to a report from Mayo Clinic, nuts provide aid in controlling cholesterol. Cashews and cashew butter, for instance helps reduce blood pressure, protects against cataracts, can aid in the prevention of diabetes, helps build blood cells and provides antioxidants. They also help prevent weight gain and aid in building strong bones. When you eat pre-processed nut butters, often “extra” ingredients are added. These ingredients include palm oil, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil, extra sodium, extra sugar and milk products. Find a whole food store that offers organic nuts in bulk and make your own with a food processor. Some stores even have one available, so you pay for the nut butter (same price per pound) at the check out as you would for the nuts.
Trail mix is deceptive.
When you hear trail mix, you automatically envision a picture of snacking on it while climbing a mountain or following a path in the woods. That’s the quintessential picture of health. Today’s commercial trail mix contains almost as much candy as it does healthy food. Again, homemade is best if you want to control ingredients—such as using small amounts of dark chocolate with nuts and homemade dried fruit. Note the ingredients of commercial dried fruit. If it has sweeteners, sulfites or any other ingredient besides the fruit, don’t include it. It has become far less healthy.
Soy foods that imitate other foods.
I always say, “Never eat a food that’s pretending to be something else.” That may sound strange, but it actually is a healthy rule to follow. Soy products or other imitation foods that profess to be meat substitutes, such as soy burgers, veggy burgers made with beans or rice, soy bars, soy protein powder and soy yogurt and milk are all processed. Not only does it affect the nutritional quality, it adds extra ingredients that aren’t necessarily healthy. By now you should realize my finger pointing to unhealthy foods is pointing to processed foods that were healthy before processing.
Diet “TV dinners” are stripped of their nutrients and often contain extra sodium. You may be getting fewer calories, but also shorting yourself on nutrients.
Those yummy health food bars are really candy bars in disguise or close to it. Opt for other quick snacks or make them yourself, allowing you to control the ingredients.
Fat free sugary treats or those with artificial sweeteners. Fat free treats often contain more sugar or sweeteners to enhance the flavor. If that sweetener is artifical, it’s probably bad for you or at least suspicious. There are a number of different studies and a great deal of controversy. It’s best to keep consumption at a minimum.
Be wary of energy drinks and stick to water.