Think orange juice, smoothies and granola bars are good for you? Think again. We reveal the unhealthy foods that you may be eating unaware of the danger.
We all know that, in excess, cakes, sweets and fried pork products are not good for us. A diet consisting largely of sausage rolls and doughnuts isn't going to make any of us slimmer or fitter.
Health Hub: Turning healthy foods into diet disasters
What we might not know so much about are foods that don't attract such negative publicity, but still pack a nasty punch. These are foods that many of us eat regularly, without thinking we're doing ourselves harm. They're the most dangerous foods some of us eat, and some of us eat them every day.
Here are 10 of the worst in terms of both their unhealthy ingredients and the stealthy way they worm themselves into our affections.
Many of us tell ourselves that if we have a glass of fresh juice in the morning, we've got the day off to the healthiest possible start. But research from Harvard Medical School found that just one glass of fruit juice a day can increase our chances of contracting Type 2 diabetes. The study said that by drinking juice rather than eating whole fruit, we're missing out on fibre and subjecting our bodies to a quick spike in blood sugar levels.
Many experts still think that fruit juice has its place in our diet because it does contain vitamin C, but it shouldn't become a substitute for eating whole fruits and it's best to drink it with a meal, which slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
OK, nobody thinks pies are an elixir of health. They're traditional pub grub, and if you add vegetables to the meat they're a reasonably wholesome way of getting a comfort food fix.
If you make them yourself, that is. If you treat yourself at the local pub, you might be best keeping this treat to once a month at most. Recent research found that pie and mash meals from some of the biggest pub chains in the UK contained a day's worth of salt, and the worst contained the equivalent of the salt found in 15 packets of crisps.
Experts say that, if you do succumb to the occasional pub pie, missing out on the gravy and not adding extra salt at the table will make it a little less unhealthy.
Muesli Bars are those health bars many of us throw down our necks when we're too busy to eat properly or need a pick-me-up before rugby practice. The mix of whole oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit has made them something of a go-to food for hungry men who don't want to eat chocolate or crisps.
And the bad news? You almost might as well go for the chocolate or crisps. Unless you're very picky about your bar of choice, the good stuff is often outweighed by the bad, which includes a hefty sugar dose and a range of artificial, processed ingredients keeping the bar held together. You can get better ones, but you have to read the label carefully to make sure you do.
When you're at college or facing hard economic times, many men turn to this tasty, (temporarily) filling and cheap-as-chips staple. Some instant noodles are incredibly cheap.
But they're cheap for a reason. They offer almost nothing in the way of nutrients and are loaded with salt. Eat them sparingly, and add frozen peas or tinned mackerel to add some much-needed goodness.
So you skip the chicken pie or instant noodles and go for reliable old pasta instead, with all its healthy Mediterranean associations.
Stop right there. White pasta the stuff most of us buy from the supermarket is made from refined flour that has most of the good stuff (the germ and bran of the whole grain that contains the vitamins and minerals) taken out. White pasta causes spikes in blood sugar that can be damaging, so leave it for an occasional treat and make wholegrain pasta your regular staple.
OK, nobody is under the impression that muffins are a healthy afternoon treat, but many of us do believe that muffins are a healthier afternoon treat. In particular, those packed with bran or berries seem to offer more in terms of nutrients than a chocolate chip cookie.
And they probably do, in moderation. But the sheer size of the muffins you find in supermarkets and coffee shops makes them a nutritional no-no, sometimes weighing in at a staggering 500 calories and 20 grams of fat. If you must have a muffin, split one in half and share it with a friend.
We're joking, right? If salads aren't healthy, we might as well give up now.
Actually, salads are healthy stupendously so as long as you don't smother them in the worst shop-bought dressings, which can hit you with a triple whammy of high fat, high sugar and high salt. That's why fast food salads are so bad for you too, and certainly not a healthy choice when you want a quick lunchtime fix.
For a healthier dressing, simply mix one part balsamic vinegar with two parts olive oil.
Many of us have been scared off eating too much bread, and substitute our lunchtime sandwich for a wrap instead. The flatbread that makes the wrap is too thin to do too much damage, right?
Wrong. Some wraps weigh in at up to 300 calories, before you add the filling. If it's packed with meat, mayo and cheese, your light lunchtime meal can add up to 700 calories to your daily intake, while leaving plenty of space (and the urge) for a sweet treat later in the day. Most wraps are made of refined flour too, which means you miss out on a range of nutrients and fibre.
The coffee shop revolution means that many of us are warding off our daily slumps with a couple of revitalising cups of the dark stuff. And the good news is that coffee can be good for us. The beans contain a range of healthy nutrients, including antioxidants.
It's not the coffee that's the problem, it's the stuff we add to it. Have a couple of full fat coffee shop lattes and you can be adding upwards of 400 calories to your daily intake, as well as potentially a couple of large sugars. If you go for the really indulgent coffees (white chocolate mochas and the like) you can be piling on even more. Go for plain coffee with skimmed milk for a much healthier pick-me-up.
Smoothies are another of those shortcuts that experts are increasingly suspicious about. They do contain more fibre and nutrients than juice, but they can also pack a huge calorific punch up to 700 calories in some cases. They also contain a lot of fruit sugar, and some varieties are bulked up with whole fat yoghurt, peanut butter and chocolate.
Go for brands that contain nothing but fruit. Even then, be aware that smoothies can only count as two of your five-a-day, however many you consume and whatever the mix of the fruit.
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