This is not one of those posts that is meant to scare you. Well, maybe it’s not one of those posts. That all depends on what is in your fridge and pantry, I guess. This is a post written in the hopes that we will all make sure to read the labels on groceries before putting them in our shopping carts — let alone in our homes. Not only will we be making ourselves healthier, but in turn we will be demanding food companies to make healthier products for us to purchase.
So, here is what I want us all to do. Let’s watch the sugar content in our foods. We don’t want to eat foods that raise our glycemic index. Let’s watch for unnecessary sugars that have been added to foods. After all, sugar is what makes tumors grow. Let’s watch for too many ingredients, because that is typically a sure sign that a food has been too modified to retain its health value. And let’s watch out for bleached flours rather than whole grains.
Here are 10 examples of foods that may not seem unhealthy, but really can be if we do not read the ingredient list and labels carefully:
Read labels before purchasing these foods 1 of 11
Energy and Protein bars 2 of 11
Energy bars began as a way for hardcore athletes to grab some nutrition before or during a long workout or outdoor exercise activity. Today many of these bars contain high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars. While they may contain a fair amount of protein, many have negligible amounts of fiber, which means that you will not stay full for very long. A few of these bars have calorie counts that are the size of an entire meal, while some also have a high saturated fat or trans fat content. If you do not read those labels carefully you might wind up buying a glorified candy bar.
Enhanced water 3 of 11
A few of these vitamin and nutrient enhanced waters are just that: enhanced. However, the majority are simply using deceptive tactics to make us think they are healthy. Meanwhile they contain unnecessary sugar or unhealthy sugar substitutes and excess carbohydrates. Why not enhance your own water with fruit and take a multivitamin instead?
Granola 4 of 11
Granola is another one of those foods that started off with good intentions, but has become laden with unnecessary ingredients and excess sugars. Look for a granola that does not have sugar or added sugars, hydrogenated oils, or high-fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list. You should not need added sugar in the form of syrup, molasses, honey, or agave either, because it is the whole grains, seeds, and nuts that makes granola healthy.
Non-dairy creamers 5 of 11
These may sound like a great alternative for those who cannot tolerate dairy, but watch out. Many of these creamers contain unnecessary corn syrup solids and partially hydrogenated oil. Some also have Dipotassium phosphate on their ingredient list, which is also an ingredient sometimes used in pesticides. Today there are many flavors of non-dairy (and dairy) creamers on the market which contain (you guessed it) artificial flavoring. Several of these creamers contain trans fats and extra sodium too. If you prefer a lighter coffee and are dairy intolerant, why not try alternatives such as almond milk, another nut milk, coconut milk, or goat's milk instead?
Packaged sliced meats 6 of 11
Parents often turn to packaged sliced meats such as turkey and roast beef as a source of protein for a lunch sandwich or on-the-go meal. For our convenience, companies have started to put the slices in pre-packaged containers so we can avoid the deli counter. However, that packaging process also often means adding preservatives to keep the products lasting longer. Extra sodium is often added as well. Check that package before you put it in your cart, because you might just find that it is a whole lot healthier to head over to the deli counter.
Pasteurized fruit juices 7 of 11
Do not be fooled by the term pasteurized or, for that matter, natural. While they may contain a day's worth of certain vitamins, too many juices contain extra sugars, added sodium, or artificial sweeteners. The vitamin content should come from the fruit itself, so there is no reason to add more ingredients. Consider going for the whole fruit and a glass of water instead.
Peanut butter 8 of 11
As a parent of a food-allergic child, I know way too much about how most peanut butters are made, from the crop to the container. Ideally, peanut butter should be organic and made of crushed peanuts. That is it. However, both full fat and reduced-fat peanut butters often contain about the same amount of calories. And both typically contain unnecessary added sugars, oils, and preservatives. Often the reduced-fat variety actually has more sugar, so be sure to read those labels carefully.
Popcorn 9 of 11
If you think this one is a real bummer, trust me. I am right there with you. Many brands of ready-to-pop popcorn contain a flavoring agent called chemical diacetyl which triggers a severe lung disorder known as popcorn lung. Popcorn which comes in ready-to-pop bags is often made of paper that is coated with a chemical to keep the bag intact when heated. That chemical breaks down to a substance called perfluorooctanoic (PFOA), which some feel may be potentially carcinogenic. As if all that chemical talk is not enough, just consider that pre-made and microwave popcorn often have an abundance of trans fats and sodium. Today there are more natural popcorn brands entering the marketplace or you can enjoy this family favorite by simply purchase the kernels and make popcorn yourself.
Yogurt 10 of 11
The amount of unnecessary added sugar and artificial sweeteners on well-known brands of yogurt consistently amazes me. Parents often turn to yogurt as a great source of protein for kids, but many of them also have upwards of 20 grams of sugar in one serving. Some even have sodium and oils added to the ingredient list. Also, just because it is greek yogurt that does not mean it is healthy yogurt. You should still read those ingredient labels when you purchase yogurt for your family and keep an eye on those added sugars.
Whole wheat bread 11 of 11
In the past 20 years or so, people have begun to make the switch from bleached white bread to whole grain and multi-grain varieties. However, many whole wheat and whole grain breads are like a wolf in sheep's clothing. In other words, the bread may look healthier, but if you are not reading those labels carefully you might still be taking in the unhealthy variety. Read the ingredient labels carefully. If the first two or three ingredients on the list say "bleached" or "unbleached enriched wheat flour" it means that the unhealthy variety is still in there.
Please note that this post is intended to share information and ideas, as well as to create conversation. Please consult a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.
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