overrated health foods

Top Eight Most Overrated “Health” Foods

The last thing you need when you're trying to improve your eating is to get side tracked by overrated "health" foods. Food marketers are having a field day touting the benefits of foods that don't measure up nutritionally.

To help you eat healthy, we're shedding the light on eight overrated “health” foods.

#1: Breakfast Cereal

Many people think cereal is a healthy choice because it’s low in fat, contains grains, and is fortified with vitamins and minerals. But those grains are highly refined, giving you a quick blood sugar spike even if there is no added sugar—which is almost never.

A food being low fat rarely improves weight management. After all, meals that contain healthy fats and protein tend to be more satiating so that people eat fewer calories. Cereal doesn’t have this benefit and the high-carb content is known to trigger food intake, making it easy to eat a few servings of cereal at a sitting.

Eat This Instead

We recommend the Meat and Nuts breakfast but any combination of high-quality protein, fiber, and healthy fats will do the trick.

#2: Non-Fat Yogurt

Fat is good for you. It’s satiating and improves absorption of antioxidants and fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, and K.

In the case of yogurt, when you remove the fat, you create a very overrated health food. Food manufacturers often add sugar, artificial sweeteners, and flavors to make it taste good. This kind of yogurt is just junk food masquerading as health food. Plus, these yogurts are unlikely to contain any live probiotic bacteria because they tend to go through extensive industrial processing.

Eat This Instead

Greek yogurt is your best bet. Look for plain or no-sugar added versions.

#3: Veggie Chips

Do you think that vegetable chips are a smart choice? Reality shows these chips are the same refined flour, corn, potatoes, oil, and salt as “regular” chips that everyone knows are unhealthy.

Marketers will take the “something is better than nothing” approach and tell you veggie chips are a great way to get picky eaters to eat their veggies. Really, veggie chips are just another overrated health food. The tiny bit of veggie powder mixed into these chips don’t make up for the load of processed grains or soy that provides the majority of calories.

Eat This Instead

Chop real vegetables (cucumbers, celery, carrots, green and red peppers) into sticks for a nutrient-rich, fiber filled, low-calorie snack.

#4: Egg Whites

Despite abundant evidence that eggs are good for you and won’t hurt your heart, people still think that egg whites are a better choice. Not so.

The egg yolk provides all the hard-to-get nutrients that make the egg the most affordable superfood on the planet: Vitamin D, B vitamins, choline, minerals, and fatty acids.

Eat This Instead

Whole eggs. The egg yolk supplies antioxidants that appear to lower inflammation and may preserve cognition as you age.

#5: Tuna

The French nickname for tuna is “la poubelle de la mer." This means “garbage can of the sea” because it is so contaminated with mercury. Mercury is incredibly dangerous if you’re exposed to enough of it, causing neurological problems, irritability, and numbness in the arms and legs.

Eating tuna makes it easy to reach toxic levels of mercury—the FDA says it’s safe to get up to 7 mcgs of mercury a week for every 22 pounds you weigh (50 mcg for a 150-pound person). Albacore tuna packs 40 mcg of mercury per 4 ounce serving.

Eat This Instead

Canned salmon is low in mercury and pollutants. It tends to be wild caught, so it doesn’t come with the nutritional drawbacks of fresh farmed salmon (high omega-6 fat content).

#6: Fruit Juice

Fruit juice has to be a healthy alternative to soda, right? Not so.

Most store-bought fruit juice has just as many calories as soda. A 250 ml glass of apple juice typically contains 110 calories and 26 grams of sugar whereas 250 ml of cola has 105 calories and 26.5 grams of sugar.

In addition, if you drink fruit juice, you will have a greater diabetes risk than eating whole fruit. Juice spikes blood sugar and insulin to a greater degree and may trigger additional food intake so that you eat more calories overall.

Eat This Instead

Whole fruit or homemade green vegetable juice. There’s a big difference in the fructose content in vegetable juice compared to fruit juice, but do be mindful of how much your drinking because juice of all forms is an easy way to consume a lot of calories.

#7: Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk is called the perfect recovery drink due to the ratio of sugar and protein it contains. It’s true that milk is a killer source of protein due to it’s high concentration of leucine, the most important amino acid for building muscle. But that doesn’t mean adding sugar and a little bit of antioxidant-poor chocolate make it a better choice!

Eat This Instead

Whey protein is a superior recovery protein, maximally stimulating muscle building. It’s also less allergenic than regular milk being lactose free. Watch for added sugars and artificial junk that is added to cheap whey powders.

#8: Whole Grain Flour

It’s baffling how food companies and nutritionists can pretend that highly processed flours made out of what were once whole grains are good for us. Cereal and wheat crackers are a far cry from boiled whole buckwheat, millet, or jasmine rice.

Another problem is that foods made from “whole” grain flour raise blood sugar and insulin. Plus, these overrated health foods are packed with relatively empty calories compared to the nutrition powerhouses like green vegetables, dark colored fruit, fish, or eggs.

Eat This Instead

If you want to eat grains, make sure they are intact with the hull on. Millet, buckwheat, and amaranth are nutritionally rich and associated with better health outcomes than wheat and other grains.

 

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