You may think that these 7 seemingly healthy foods do good for your body. Truth is, consuming them results in weight gain.
Our obsession with eating ‘healthy’ has reached extreme levels these recent years. A study by Euromonitor reported that global sales of health foods would reach US$1 trillion by 2017 – that’s a lot for keeping our bodies in shape.
Whether it’s organic, natural, low in fat and calories or even high in fibre, it’s tempting to get pulled into the lifestyle when they all sing the same appealing song.
But don’t stock your pantry just yet. Watch out for these 7 seemingly healthy foods that might just be more than what you bargained for.
1) Breakfast cereals
We are all suckers for a good sales pitch, which is why cereal packaging often comes with health claims like ‘high fibre’ or ‘low fat’. Although these statements might depict a healthy, energy boosting meal, they may actually be concealing high carbohydrate and sugar levels that translate to weight gain.
Don’t buy into the hype and read your labels diligently. Cereals high in sugar add more calories to your daily intake, so keep it down by opting for those with less than 5 grams of sugar. Whole grain options are not foolproof either. Although cereals are typically a great source of fibre, some varieties are mixed with refined grains, which are starchier and provide less nutrients. Pick those that are 100 per cent whole grain, or products with bran or fruits.
What damage can a couple of greens with tasty dressing do to our bodies? Apparently a lot. When your fresh veggies are loaded with mayonnaise and topped with slices of beef steak or cheese, an innocuous plate could equate to a meal at a fast food joint. Store bought or restaurant served salads like these may rack up more than 600 kcals in a serving.
Avoid consuming these extra calories by choosing dark leafy greens, which contain more nutrients like folate and vitamin A. Do away with cheese toppings, use lighter dressings such as balsamic vinegar and select lean proteins like chicken breast.
3) Agave nectar
Once hailed as the go-to ‘natural’ sweetener for vegans and diabetics, this gluten free, low Glycemic Index (GI) product may be more toxic than the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in soft drinks.
With one of the highest fructose concentrations at 90 per cent, almost twice as much as HFCS, agave nectar might actually do more harm by raising insulin resistance and triglycerides levels. This causes metabolic problems and weight gain. Not helping is its manufacturing process, which also strips away most of the fibre and nutrients from the plant-based syrup, leaving only a high calorie (16 kcals/teaspoon) sugar substitute devoid of benefits.
4) Trail nut mixes
Like its name, it is best to leave this snack for the outdoors. Targeted at those who seek a boost while engaging in high intensity workouts, trail mixes can include nuts, seeds, dried fruits and even M&Ms.
While these mixes are better than sugary or salty snacks, they can amount to about 700 kcals. A serving takes up around 70 per cent of one’s daily recommended fat intake. This is particularly damaging for sedentary folk!
5) Fat-free yogurt
How can something with no fat actually make you fatter? The answer is in the sugar content. Sugars occur naturally during the fermentation process of yogurt, but in fat-free versions, these amounts are lost and the taste is altered. To enhance palatability, additional refined sugar may have been added, which spells trouble for your calorie intake and metabolism.
However, you don’t have to go to the extremes with full-fat alternatives. If fat content is still a concern, select light versions of yogurt, then add fruits for a hint of sweetness.
6) Gluten-free foods
A dietary solution for coeliac disease sufferers, gluten-free food has seen surging popularity, ironically in unaffected people. While consumers believe that the low-carb, high-protein mix helps them lose weight, this imbalanced form of eating might actually hurt more than heal.
By totally excluding wheat sources, manufacturers often add salt, sugar and fat to improve taste and texture. This makes the product equally, if not more sinful than its full-bodied counterparts. Going voluntarily gluten-free also puts eaters at a nutritional disadvantage, due to the loss of vitamins and minerals than can be found in wheat, such as fibre.
7) Veggie chips
Vegetables are always healthier, right? Wrong. Replacing your favourite bag of Lay’s with veggie crisps won’t make much difference. One serving contains almost the same amount of calories and fat. Although they are high in vitamin C and E, valuable nutrients such as phytochemicals are lost in the cooking process. What’s left is a nutritionally-deficient snack that is laden with calories.
Watch out for imitations; some veggie chips are actually potatoes in disguise, masked with synthetic powders or puree. The healthiest option is to always eat vegetables fresh or lightly cooked, with most of its nutrients intact. If you are still craving for something to crunch on, make some by hand by baking sliced vegetables with herbs and salt.
If foods sounds too good to be true, it most probably is. More than anything, practise moderation when eating, and always pair it up with regular exercise to get the best results.