Seriously, this is not the perfect time to be happy-go-lucky when it comes to our health. But thanks to the advent of wellness cuisine, health products and slimming pills seems to make the process of staying fit and healthy easier for some people. But these products are more than meets the eyes. We all know that some products don’t work for some people but have you ever looked into those health products that have been generally accepted by the public? Terms like “low fat” or “multigrain” might not bother you at all but if you’re going to delve deeper and look beyond their usual definition, you will realize that some of the “healthy foods” that we have used for so long might not be as healthy as they are supposed to be. Here’s the thing: sometimes, it really pays to be skeptical and when it comes to “healthy foods”. Not letting yourself be easily fooled by false advertisements can really help you go a long way in achieving health and wellness.
Every gym buff and fitness enthusiast have been led to believe that munching energy bars to provide their post- or pre-workout needs and nourishment remains to be the ideal choice. Although it is true that it can replenish some of the lost energy and can help in building some muscles, most of the energy bars today emphasize too much on the “energy”, creating products that are rich in calories and contain few essential nutrients needed by the body.
Safer choice: Energy bars were especially made for those who are always on the go but as far as nutritional contents are concerned, eating fresh/dry fruits or even yoghurt can be a healthier alternative because they are rich sources of fibre, energy-giving nutrients and protein to build muscles as well.
Low Fat Peanut Butter
Mention the word “fats” and most of us will cringe without even knowing what kind of fat a certain food item contains. This is especially true when it comes to choosing peanut butters in the market; we have often believed that low fat peanut butter is way better than the regular ones. I’m sorry but I’m going to spoil your fantasy; low fat peanut butters are not as healthy as you think it is. There are two reasons behind this discovery: First, low fat peanut butter doesn’t contain the nutrient-rich oil that we usually find in regular peanut butters and second, manufacturers simply replace healthy fats with malt dextrin for them to produce low fat peanut butters. In other words, you only get empty calories with lesser amount of nutrients in every serving of low fat peanut butters.
Safer choice: You should look for regular peanut butters that contain pure peanuts, without too much oil or any added sugars. No need to fret about peanut oils because they naturally contains good cholesterol that can help decrease your risk in developing heart diseases and certain types of cancer.
Non-fried chips and crackers
When it comes to fats, we’ve grown accustomed to the idea that “less is more” or “less oil is more beneficial”. For this reason, we always think that products containing “non-fried”, “baked” or other descriptive words are generally healthier than those that are cooked in oil. However, most non-fried chips and crackers that are being offered today in the market contain refined grains which are poor sources of nutrients as compared to whole grain foods. When we say “refined”, that means the germ and bran layer of a grain have been removed, leaving the endosperm intact. Unrefined grains, or also known as whole grains, contain all parts of the grain kernel and since germ and bran layers are rich in fibre, phytochemicals and other essential nutrients, refined grains should never be at the top of anyone’s list.
Safer choice: Whole grain foods are known to decrease one’s risk of developing cancer and heart-related problems so make sure you read the product labels first before anything else. There are chips and crackers that contain “whole wheat” or “whole grains” and were cooked using healthy oils like olive so buying these types of products can be a healthier alternative.
We are nutritionists by nature so false assumptions and misconceptions about foods commonly occur in our daily lives. That is especially true for multigrain foods which people use interchangeably with whole grain foods. And if you’re one of those people who are wondering if they are two different categories, let me tell you this: YES, they are different from one another not just because of their spellings but also due to their components and effects on health. Whole grain foods are basically made from the “whole part of a grain kernel” and include “whole wheat”, “whole oats” or “whole grain”. Multigrain foods, on the other hand, contain some refined ingredients that are not as beneficial to health compared to whole grain alternatives.
Safer choice: Now that you know the main difference, you must careful in reading the nutritional facts at the back of every product especially those cereals that declare themselves as whole grain foods. Products that contain “refined” or “enriched” flour or other ingredients are basically classified as multigrain foods and contain less fibre and essential nutrients than whole grain foods.
Vitamin and mineral enhanced beverage
According to Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health, vitamin and mineral enhanced water or beverage might just bring more harm than good to our health. This is because beverages fortified with small amounts of vitamins and minerals are basically rich in sugar and empty calories. In other words, excess carbohydrates overpower any essential vitamins and minerals that are contained within those enhanced beverages.
Safer choice: Needless to say, drinking fluoride-rich tap water remains to be the healthiest choice in completing the daily fluid requirement of 6-8 glasses. And finally, one can get sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals through eating whole foods even without the need for additional supplementation.