When it comes to eating well, avoiding fizzy drinks, processed foods and sugary treats may be obvious, but some of the healthier choices you think you’re making might not be as virtuous as they seem. The supermarket aisles are filled with ‘healthy’ foods that could be wreaking havoc with your diet. Here are the ten foods nutritionists are warning us to think twice about...
“Don’t be deceived by low-fat fruit yoghurts – they may sound saintly, but they can contain up to eight teaspoons of refined sugar per serving. Second to milk, sugar is often the most prevalent ingredient in such yoghurts, making them a high-GI option that will cause your body to release more insulin (our fat storing hormone) to deal with the quick rise in blood sugar,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville.
“Almonds are very moreish, so it’s easy to polish off a small 100g bag whilst racking up nearly 600 calories within minutes. Portion control is absolutely vital – stick to a handful,” says nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
“You might think a jar of tomato sauce is healthy as it’s low in fat but most store-bought options are very high in sugar. Pour this over a bowl of white pasta and all you’ve got is a sugar double whammy,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville.
“Dried fruits are a highly concentrated source of sugar. To give you an example, fresh strawberries contain 6g of sugar per 100g, whilst dried strawberries contain 60g per 100g. This is more than double the amount of sugar found in ice cream, so stick to fresh fruit where possible,” explains Cassandra Barns.
“Often accompanied in adverts with Alpine settings and lush countryside, it’s easy to think muesli is a wholesome breakfast choice. However, not all are created equal. Before you buy, read the label in detail and avoid those packed full of added sugar and salt,” advises Dr Marilyn Glenville.
As Cassandra Barns explains, “Rice cakes are often thought of as a low-fat, gluten-free health food. However, most are made from white refined rice, leaving them with a glycaemic index close to 91 (pure glucose has a rating of 100). This means that rice cakes break down into sugar rapidly within the body, resulting in blood sugar imbalances. Pair with a source of protein to keep things on an even keel.”
Soup may seem like an innocent option, but many supermarket offerings come laden with added sugar and even glucose syrup. Always read the label before buying, or go one better and make your own,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville.
"Whilst avocados are full of amazing antioxidants and healthy fats, they come with a hefty energy content. There’s nothing wrong with having an avocado a day, but they can contain anywhere between 250-400 calories each, so adjust your diet accordingly to account for the added calories,” explains Cassandra Barns.
“While beneficial in moderation, remember that even a seemingly healthy cold-pressed juice can be high in fruit sugars (fructose), which is still essentially sugar. Excess fructose consumption can lead to blood sugar imbalances, obesity, metabolic syndrome and even increased risk of fatty liver disease. Instead, reach for vegetable-only juices or those with a very low sugar content,” suggests Cassandra Barns.
“In recent years, studies have shown that fat really isn’t the health villain we’ve been led to believe. By choosing skimmed milk, you will actually miss out on much-needed fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins D, A and E. Full-fat milk will also provide you with many essential fatty acids like omega 3s, which have powerful inflammatory and brain health benefits,” explains Cassandra Barns.