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“Health Foods” That Aren’t So Healthy

By on January 23, 2013

If you’re trying to eat healthy this semester, don’t be fooled by cleverly marketed products trying to be sold as “health foods,” as many of them aren’t as good for you as they seem.  To be truly, nutritionally conscious, be wary of these foods:

Anything labeled “multi-grain”

This one comes to a shock to many health nuts, as multi-grain products are famous for being marketed as the healthier alternative to normal breads, crackers, etc. But multi-grain foods are no better than eating your standard variety, as they’re still generally made with refined grains and flour, which leads to weight gain.

What you’ve been meaning to buy is anything labeled “whole-grain,” which can lower your chances of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and even some cancers.  Make sure whole grain is the only grain in your food, and preferably the first thing on your product’s ingredient list.

Non-fried/baked chips and crackers

Much like the multi-grain scenario, baked chips (pita chips, “Popchips,” etc.), though not as bad as their fried counterparts, are still made with tons of refined starches that should be avoided at all costs.

Whole Milk

Many people believe that a glass of milk a day is a great way to get your daily source of vitamin D, potassium, and calcium.  While this may be true, whole milk is NOT the way to do it if you want to keep your bad cholesterol low and your arteries unclogged.

Instead go for a fat-free skim milk or 1% milk, which takes away all the fat and leaves you with health benefits and satisfying taste.

Any turkey-based products

Turkey bacon, turkey hot dogs, turkey sausage, turkey anything.  Avoid everything that’s made as a substitute using turkey as a base.  Turkey in its unchanged state is one of the healthiest choices for poultry that one could make, but processed alternatives to beef or pork based foods using the bird means much more sodium than its original counterpart, in order to emulate the taste.

If the original food has to be replaced by a turkey substitute in order to make it look healthier, then you shouldn’t be even near that food in the first place.

Reduced-fat peanut butter

Peanut Butter is often regarded as a pseudo-health food, as it has lots of protein and fiber, but has a rather high fat, sugar, and calorie content.  So it would make sense to believe that a reduced-fat butter would prove to be a much smarter choice, but take out the peanut’s natural content of “good,” monounsaturated fats, and all you’re left with is a salty, sugary paste that won’t do you any good health-wise.




About Josh Perline

Josh is currently an undergraduate "Computer Science" and "Environmental Economics and Policy" double major at UC Berkeley, working as a Lab Assistant in the EECS department.

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