Our desire for healthy food is growing and food companies have been quick to cotton
on to the demand. But the goal of most food companies is to make profit, not to make us healthier and many foods that are promoted as healthy options are not quite as healthy as we might think.
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Kim Pearson is a Harley Street nutritionist who specialises in weight loss. Here, Kim shares some of the ‘healthy’ foods to avoid if you’re trying to lose weight.
It might claim to be ‘one of your five a day’ but did you know that one small (300ml) bottle of pure, squeezed orange juice contains the equivalent to six and a half teaspoons of sugar? Yes, it’s naturally occurring sugar, but the body doesn’t know the difference between sugar from fruit juice and sugar from a glass of Coke. Sugar is sugar and consuming too much is not a good idea if you’re trying to lose weight. Instead, jazz up your water by infusing it with your favourite fruit, or cucumber and mint.
‘Fat Free’ or ‘Low Fat’ Foods
Most processed ‘low fat’ foods are a hangover from the days when we believed that low fat diets were the best way to lose weight. The fact is, when you remove fat from something it reduces the taste so manufacturers often replace the fat with sugar, sweeteners or artificial flavourings, or a combination of them. Sometimes, the ‘low fat’ version of a product will actually contain more sugar than the original! Most of the time it’s best to stick to the full fat version.
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Agave syrup, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, date syrup. All widely promoted as natural sweeteners and used in products that claim to be ‘refined sugar free’. However, the bottom line is, they are all sugars. Syrups like date and maple do contain some beneficial nutrients that are stripped away in the sugar refining process but not enough to outweigh the downsides. Agave is highly processed and some argue that, because of it’s high fructose content, it’s even worse than standard table sugar. If you do want to sweeten foods, I recommend using the natural sweeteners stevia or xylitol. In moderation of course!
There are countless healthy-looking snack bars available now but they vary hugely when it comes to how healthy they really are. Some are hiding a surprising amount of hidden sugar. Certain brands add in refined glucose syrups while others are based on dried fruits which contain significantly more sugar than fresh fruit. Read the label carefully to see how much sugar your bar contains. Alternatively, go for a more natural option and combine a handful of blueberries or raspberries with some creamy cashew nuts for a tasty, low sugar snack.
Most of us are aware that chocolatey kid’s cereals are packed full of sugar, but there are a lot of breakfast cereals out there masquerading as healthy when they’re far from a weight loss friendly breakfast option. Watch out for granola and muesli, they’re often significantly higher in sugar than you might imagine. The only way to know for sure is to check the nutrition information.
It’s worth paying less attention to marketing messages on the front of food labels and focus your attention on the nutrition information and ingredients list on the back. It’s the only way to be sure of what’s really in your food.
Kim Pearson is a qualified nutritionist and weight loss specialist based on London’s Harley Street. She consults clients in London and internationally via her virtual consulting room. For more information about Kim and the services she offers, visit her website www.kim-pearson.com
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