Beware of the not  so Healthy Food List  with foods that sound nutritious but aren’t

Alert! You’re shopping for foods from your healthy food list at the grocery store or deli.  Be careful that you’re not fooled, like many are, into buying a food that you may think is nutritious but in fact is chock-a-block with unhealthy fats, insulin surging sugars, refined carbs and dead calories.

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If you’re not careful, your bag of healthy foods on second look might be better off as part of a junk food diet.

Nutritionists from the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas have made a so called healthy food list of items that are routinely anything but healthy. The problem is that people perceive these foods as nutritious because they have a health “halo” effect.  However, on reading the label, you discover they’re not what you think.

The list is a good one to keep in mind when at the coffee shop or the grocery so you don’t get hoodwinked into putting on your healthy food list, a food that is anything but.

Vegetable Chips – are often marketed as a healthy option to potato chips or crisps. On reading the label, you discover  levels of fat, salts, fibre and preservatives that rival their nutritionally struggling potato cousins. Veg chips are also routinely made from powders so that much of the nutrients from whole carrot, sweet potato or plantain are destroyed along with the fibre  needed to balance blood sugar and maintain healthy bowel function.

  • Healthy Food List Alternative:  Make your own vegetable chips by baking thinly sliced beet, turnip, sweet potato or squash pieces. Brush with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt before baking on cookie sheet at 350° F/180° C for 20 minutes until desired doneness. Watch they don’t burn. They will be soft when first done but will crisp on cooling.


Nutrient – Enhanced Waters – I’ve been fooled on this one having purchased fruit flavoured waters for my six year old.  On reading the label (after I’d bought and she’d guzzled) I discovered sugar was the second ingredient and strawberries had never been near this water – it was all artificial flavours of dubious synthetic origin. Definitely put this on your not so healthy food list and keep it there.

  • Healthy Food Alternative: Throw lemon, lime or orange slices along with basil or mint leaves into your filtered water and let steep in refrigerator for a couple hours. Bring it along in a container for little one and yourself.

Muffins – I used to include these regularly as part of my healthy food list, until I noticed that they tasted awfully sweet for something so healthy. Unless you make your own, commercial muffins are made generally with refined flours, oodles of sugar and high oil content. Coming in at 500 to 600 calories, they are more akin to a doughnut than that wholesome and nutritious start to your day.

  • Healthy Food Alternative: Make your own with whole wheat flour, rolled oats and reduce the sugar required by the recipe. Most baking recipes require substantially too much sugar that you don’t miss in the finished product by reducing by a quarter or more. When at the deli, get 100% whole wheat or rye toast and spread with a layer of sugarless peanut or other nut butter.

Premade Smoothies – Commercial smoothies are often high calorie elixirs made with syrups whose main ingredient is high fructose corn syrup along with sweetened high calorie milk or soy products. The sugar rush can lead to debilitating slumps in blood sugar a while later, to say nothing of guzzling hundreds of calories in a few gulps.

  • Healthy Food Alternative: Make your own smoothies with low fat milk, soy milk, and plain yogurt and, get this, real fruit including berries, mango, pineapple, papaya and other easily blended fruits. Use frozen berries, if fresh aren’t available.  Throw in a shot of flax oil for an Omega 3 boost.

Frozen Yogurt and, for that matter, sweetened fruit yogurts - Even if fat free, these are often high sugar treats that include a whopping hit of calories. Often the fruit flavourings are artificial or nothing more than a jam-like concoction.

  • Healthy Food AlternativeIt’s simple. Buy plain low fat yogurt and add the real McCoy - chopped fresh or frozen fruit. While you and your kids might miss the sweetness of refined sugar at first; you’ll soon get used to and appreciate the sweetness of real fruit.

So when choosing foods for your healthy food list, be savvy and don’t get fooled by healthy halo marketing ploys that use slogans like

  • low fat to hide enormous amounts of sugar;
  • sugar free to hide large amounts of unhealthy fats;
  • organic  to sell grub loaded with refined sugars and fats; and
  • natural to sell foods that are naturally unhealthy and should not have a place on your healthy food list.


For more on the Healthy Food List and nutrients to watch, click on the following links...

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Low-Glycemic Diets

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Cancer & Nutrition

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