Every day, we hear people and publications pushing new super-foods and supplements for the betterment of our health. But after a closer look, a few supposedly golden foods and habits aren’t quite the pinnacles of health that we thought they were. Check out these five things that aren’t as healthy as public perception would have it:
1. Granola. Think health food, and you probably think granola. Substitute a handful of granola for bread or chips, and you’ve got a healthy snack. Right? Well, granola may have less sugar than a bowl of kids’ cereal, but most granolas on the market are still highly artificially sweetened. Look for a granola sweetened with dried fruit or honey and chock-full of nuts so that you get some protein with your snack.
2. Salads. Salads have become synonymous with eating light, but the way that salads are served in most restaurants, you’d come out even by just ordering the hamburger. Eat This, Not That lists 20 restaurant salads worse than a Burger King Whopper. Some salads on the list boast more than 1,300 calories! In general, avoid fixing or ordering salads with creamy dressing, excessive cheese, Iceberg lettuce, anything with the word “crispy” (unless it’s referring to raw veggies or nuts), and croutons.
3. Rice cakes. Although they taste light and airy, many rice cakes aren’t a light snack option. Today’s highly-flavored rice cakes are held together with sugar and tons of sodium. You might not consume too many calories if you watch your serving size, but you’re also not getting much of anything good for you by eating rice cakes—they’re not really nutrient dense, which means that you’ll be consuming scant calories but getting no nutritional value or full-feeling from them. Snack on high-fiber whole-grain crackers, carrots, hummus, or yogurt instead.
4. Low-fat foods. Many grocery-store foods now come in low- or reduced-fat varieties: peanut butter, cereal, cookies, chips, bread—the list goes on. But when companies take out the fats in foods, they often replace them with sky-high amounts of sugar and starch, which actually can lead to weight gain. Isn’t that the opposite of what you were trying to do by buying low-fat? Make sure your diet includes plenty of good-for-you fats from healthy oils, fish, nuts, and avocados.
5. Drinking water. Most diet and exercise regimens remind the healthy faithful to drink more water, and it’s a great idea to consume more water as a rule. But all water isn’t created equal. The stuff coming out of your tap could be filled with contaminants, and it most certainly isn’t helping to add antioxidants and healthy hydroxyl ions to your body. Alkaline water from a top-notch water ionizer is the best way to drink the water that your body craves, and to do more for your body than simply hydrate it.
As a rule of thumb, read the nutrition facts to assess if a food’s content is really as healthy as the label or commercial claims. The next time you hear people declare that something is super-healthy, ask questions about how nutrient-dense it is—you’ll sound like a nutrition guru, and you’ll be reminding them to take their health into their own hands and question what healthy really means.
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