The F&B industry can sometimes market in misleading ways, especially if consumers don't double check the names and amounts of ingredients of the food and drinks they buy. While there are famous health foods that sound all too familiar to us, they may not be what they're cracked up to be especially when it comes to long-term health benefits. With this being said, here are 10 "health" foods that you should be watchful of.
1. Flavored Soy & Almond Milk
As much as soy and almond milk are excellent alternatives to regular milk, they can get you in a bit of trouble if they have excessive amounts of flavoring. These artificial ingredients can contain high levels of sugar, which can add up through time and make your body more susceptible to illnesses like diabetes, obesity, or cardiovascular diseases especially if taken on a daily basis.
One good way to go about this is to just settle for regular soy and almond milk. If you're accustomed to flavor, it's better to train your palette to soy or almond milk that's plain and clean so that you get all their benefits without the processing and the unnecessary amounts of sugar.
2. Breakfast Cereal
While most cereals are marketed as healthy, these are often shredded, puffed, or coated with artificial sweeteners. If you eat cereal more than twice a day, then you're likely to develop constant snacking habits and eventually, overeating.
But don't worry, because you don't have to give up your Froot Loops altogether: you can eat your hyper-sweet cereals maybe once or twice a week for breakfast, especially if you're conscious with your weight or overall health. The rest of the week can be diversified with different types of breakfast like egg with rice or avocado toast.
3. Granola Bars
Some people eat these as their afternoon pick-me-up, but little to their knowledge, the ingredients of this seemingly all-healthy bars are commonly held together by sticky and sweet synthetic syrups or molasses. These are even found to be high in fat and calories, which aren't ideal for those who want to lose weight.
If you're looking for some crunch in your snacks, try raw almonds: you'll directly get all the nutrients it has while still getting the satisfaction of munching and crushing little pieces of nut.
4. Protein Shakes
While it's mostly considered the secret sauce for building muscle, it may have scary amounts of chemicals that won't really help you with your goals for health and fitness in the long run, especially if you consume too much of it.
A good alternative to protein shakes are milk kefir or something as simple as hard-boiled eggs. Both of these are rich sources of protein but without the contaminants that protein shakes may have.
5. Veggie Chips
Kale, sweet potato, and beetroot chips may be your favorite snacks while studying or working, but these should be consumed only moderately. Despite coming from vegetables, these chips are deep-fried and chock-full of sodium, which aren't all that great for the heart and the kidneys.
If you'd like some alternative snacks, you can just get raw vegetable sticks like carrot, cucumber, and snow peas and then dip them in hummus or any cream-based and flavor-rich dipping sauce. It'd be better if your dip is organic and free from artificial flavorings too.
6. Multigrain Bread
While multigrain and whole wheat breads are generally healthier than white bread, it won't necessarily make that much of a difference if the grains or wheat used are overly processed and refined. Excellent alternatives to multigrain bread are cloud bread and eggplant disks, especially for those who are watching their weight.
7. Flavored Yogurt
The best way to sweeten up your yogurt experience but keep it healthy as well is to add chopped-up fresh fruits like mangoes, strawberries, or kiwis to some homemade Greek yogurt. As much as possible, avoid packaged yogurt with sweet flavors like chocolate or tutti-frutti, as well as frozen yogurt, which is generally healthier than ice cream, but should be consumed only in reasonable amounts.
8. Plant-based Meat
While it's great that there are meat alternatives for those who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint, plant-based meat is actually higher in sodium than real meat. This could have detrimental effects on your kidneys eventually, especially if you've chosen to fully replace your meat with meat alternatives.
You can choose to eat tofu instead, which packs a lot of flavor if seasoned right. It also doesn't have as much sodium, especially if you use actual spices instead of bottled sauces, broths, or seasoning mixes to give it some flavor. Don't forget to wash it down with some good ol' H2O - your kidneys will thank you.
9. Sports Drinks
If you have a pretty active lifestyle, then chances are, you're a drinker of sports beverages. As much as you need electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, your favorite sports drinks may contain simple sugar that actually gives you more calories to burn when you're engaging in sports or working out.
The best option for quenching your thirst is still water - refreshing, satisfying, and ever-reliable. It's great for helping with digestion, flushing out toxins, and keeping the skin healthy as well.
10. Instant Oatmeal
While fiber in most types of oatmeal can help with digestion, instant oatmeal actually has high levels of sodium as well as sugar. Unlike traditional oatmeal, the instant ones undergo a lot of processing, including drying, cutting, and being pressed flat. If you'd want a substitute to quick oats, a good one would be muesli.
Right Choices vs. Wrong Choices
We all have the freedom to choose, but there are consequences that come with this freedom. There are right choices for the types of food and drinks that we put in our bodies, and there are wrong ones too. Hopefully we all pick the right options that are suited for what our body needs and not just what our taste buds want.