Food producers are really good at knowing exactly what we want, which is to be as healthy as possible. However, they also know we still want our food to taste good, and we’re okay with it as long as we think it’s healthy. This is how the front label on a product can look and sound very promising, showing us we’re buying a portion of healthy, nutritious food, while the back label listing the ingredients is a whole other story.
Popular foods falsely advertised as safe and healthy
1. Frozen Yogurt
Knowing that heavy cream and milk are both higher in calories than yogurt, frozen yogurt seems like a great alternative to ice cream. However, store-bought frozen yogurt may have less fat than regular ice cream, but it has added sugars and rich toppings to even the score. In the end, the difference in calories becomes insignificant.
If you want healthy frozen yogurt, find a trusted source or do it yourself.
2. Frozen diet meals
Most of these meals don’t have too many calories, but they aren’t natural either. They’ve gone through heavy processing and have lots of sodium added. Also, the servings are not very big, so chances are you’ll be hungry again very soon. It’s better to make a quick, easy dinner made from fresh ingredients. It won’t take long, and you know what you’re eating.
3. Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
The term “reduced-fat” may seem attractive, especially when applied to your favorite foods. For example, reduced-fat peanut butter had indeed lower fat content than the regular kind, but those fats are actually healthy. To make it more attractive, the reduced-fat variety usually has added sugar, and in the end, the difference in calories becomes insignificant. Choose a natural peanut butter or make your own and enjoy those healthy fats as long as you don’t exaggerate with portion size.
4. Foods Labeled “Fat-Free”
“Fat-free” is even more appealing than “Reduced fat”, but even when a food claims it has 0 fat, it still has calories. For example, lots of cakes, candy, and other sweets are labeled “fat-free,” but they’re not healthy foods, they’re full of sugar and even artificial flavors and dyes.
The healthy fat-free foods are the ones that have no fat in their natural state, such as the majority of vegetables and fruits.
You see all sorts of advertisements on cereal boxes that try to make cereal a healthy superfood like “fiber-rich”, “whole grains”, “iron-fortified,”…etc. The problem is we need a very low amount of grains, and consuming them too much leads to inflammation and even insulin resistance.
6. Canned soups
The first problem with canned soup is the BPA contamination from the can lining. Canned soups can also contain flavor enhancers (like monosodium glutamate), artificial flavors, and other chemicals we definitely can lack from our diets.
Try to avoid this product, no matter how attractive the label and the comfort of getting a ready-made soup.
This plant-based, natural sweetener recently gained a lot of appreciation in favor of sugar and other sweeteners. Agave has more calories than sugar, but it’s apparently 1 ½ times sweeter so you may end up using less than you would in the case of sugar. However, in terms of other benefits, the valuable nutrients in agave are at very low levels so they don’t make much of a difference.
Truth is, you can use any natural sweetener, but in low amounts, and don’t mistake it for a healthy food.
8. Diet soda
Okay, diet soda has fewer calories than regular soda, but there’s a price for that. It has artificial sweeteners, which can be more damaging to your health than sugar.
Opt for something natural like fruit juices or honey-sweetened tea if you crave a sweet drink. So you don’t feel guilty about drinking your calories (which is usually why we love diet sodas) try to avoid sugary drinks, at least most of the time.
9. Rice milk
Rice milk certainly looks like its dairy counterpart, but they are very different. Rice milk is rich in carbs and very low in protein and calcium. Unless you have lactose intolerance or another problem that prevents you from drinking dairy milk, don’t trade it for rice milk. Better alternatives would be soy and almond milk.
If you truly want the healthiest milk choose organic whole milk, and stay away even from the fat-free varieties. Whole, organic milk goes through very little processing, which is essential for eating a natural product.