With so many options available in grocery aisles, there’s much confusion over what is truly healthy these days. Too often, our seemingly healthy choices actually…aren’t. Here are five nutrition-busting culprits you may not be aware of.
Just Don’t Juice
Fruit juices seem like a good idea, yet surprisingly few juice options are any better for you than soda. When you drink calories, your body doesn’t process them the same way as it would with solid foods, meaning you may consume more calories without necessarily feeling more full. Fruit juice also includes all the sugar of whole fruit (plus any additional sugars added by manufacturers), but none of the fiber. This means the juice’s sugar goes straight into your bloodstream, giving you an immediate sugar rush and resulting crash.
Instead of juice, go straight to the source and eat whole fruit. Your body will digest the fruit’s fiber along with its sugars, slowing the digestion process. If you’re craving a creamier version, make your own smoothie and include as much of the whole fruit as possible.
The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than 25 grams of sugar per day, yet many prepared salad dressings, especially those in pre-made salad kits, greatly exceed these limits. This is especially disappointing when you’re trying to make healthy choices! Lower your sugar intake by making your own. Try this version: Mix equal parts olive oil and vinegar, add a pinch of salt, and sweeten to taste with honey.
Filler-Rich “Vegetable” Snacks
Most savory snacks on the market — even the so-called “veggie snacks” — are made from potatoes, corn, and other fillers loaded with unhealthy or unnatural ingredients. They leave snackers with greasy hands and feeling sluggish.
There are plenty of healthy packaged snacks, but be sure to look for an organic, non-GMO option with lots of protein or fiber and one whole vegetable per serving. Without checking the nutrition facts on the label of your “veggie snacks,” you’re better off eating potato chips.
Women often look for low-fat versions of natural foods — such as milk and cheeses. However, when manufacturers remove fat they often replace it with something else — sugars, sodium, thickeners, and other chemicals. Fat, in moderation, is not that bad for you. It helps the body function, feel full, and even absorb vitamins and minerals. For example, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K aren’t absorbed as well by our bodies without the fat present in our food and drink.
Energy bars were originally marketed to athletes and extreme-sports enthusiasts — and with good reason. They are often sugar-filled meal replacements — not a healthy snack. Many of these bars are nutritionally more like candy bars than anything resembling a healthy choice. Many snackers are drawn to promises of high protein, but vegetables can offer protein and fiber too. For a healthy on-the-go snack, look for packaged dried fruits and vegetable snacks made as close to nature as possible, not a candy bar in sheep’s clothing.
With these culprits revealed, you’ll be equipped to make healthier decisions for your whole body. There are healthy options out there, and now you know how to find them.