We call this list the Dirty Dozen. 12 of the unhealthiest health foods that are marketed as healthy that you should avoid like your life depends on it, because it does.
Take a stroll through the “health food” aisle of your grocery store, you will be bombarded with claims of health; fat free this, sugar free that. These clever marketing tricks sadly fool many, but to the informed consumer they are no more than malicious claims that mask the truly villainous underbelly of the Unhealthiest Health Foods.
The Unhealthiest Health Foods
Here is a list of the top 12 unhealthiest health foods to avoid at all costs. Because your life does depend on it.
Little more than sugar and water, even the pure no sugar added juices are about as good a choice as a can of pop. Pure orange juice with no added sugars contains the same amount of sugar as a can of coke.
Fruit juice is a fantastic way to intake an enormous amount of sugar in a very short period of time, spiking blood glucose and causing a myriad of health issues. With next to no nutritional value, zero fiber and often consumed in much higher amounts than we would get from eating the same fruit, juice is simply awful for your health.
Eating an orange offers you with much higher nutritional value along with all the fiber nature intended. When you eat an orange you consume it much slower than guzzling a glass of juice (which is probably equivalent to half a dozen oranges) slowing the rate at which you digest the sugar.
Too much fruit is not a good thing, but you will probably feel satisfied after just one or two oranges in a day. If you drink just 1 glass of orange juice though, it is like consuming half a dozen or more oranges minus the fiber and much of the nutrients.
Fruit juice is not a healthy alternative to soda pop, it is an equally unhealthy choice.
Prefacing this with the fact that a pure no flavor added greek yogurt is the one exception to this unhealthy food addition, yogurt is bad for your health.
Marketed as a probiotic with all sorts of astounding health benefits coming from those billions of cultures and bone fortifying calcium, it is a sham. Yogurt is no better than ice cream in most cases. Filled with artificial flavoring, sugar and chemicals I dare not try to pronounce let alone spell, yogurt is one of the biggest health fallacies around.
As far as the calcium content of yogurt, it is negligible. Without the addition of key nutrients like Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 this calcium is not being properly absorbed by the body. It is being deposited in our tissue and not reaching the bone, leaving us vulnerable to osteoporosis and what’s worse, it builds up in the tissues where it calcifies over time and causes a host of harmful side effects.
If you are looking to improve gut health, there are many natural ways to do this, whether it is apple cider vinegar, baking soda or countless nutritional supplements. Avoid the yogurt aisle all together, unless of course it is to grab a tub of pure greek yogurt.
Much like fruit juice, dried fruit is an abomination that should be abolished from your diet immediately.
Misted with high fructose corn syrup for added sweetness, dried fruit contains much higher sugar contents than its fresh, hydrated predecessor. Leaving any notion of health in the food dehydrator.
So lets say you are a health conscious person and you dry your own fruit, or get it from a reputable source that does not add any chemicals or added sugars. You are still facing the major problem with dried fruit, the fact that the nutrient depleted fruit is much easier to overeat. Consider the dried cranberries on your salad, it’s easy to have a couple of dozen in one small handful, typical for the average side salad. Now if these were the hydrated berries of days past, you would probably consider the same amount of berries a meal in themselves. Dried however they are tiny, easy to eat, sweet to the taste and this causes overeating.
So you face the same dilemma as you do with fruit juice, highly concentrated sugar contents that you consume far too quickly and far too much of, shocking your body and causing a severe spike in blood sugar.
Margarine and Butter Alternatives
The boycott of anything fat started a plethora of butter alternatives, the most popular of which is margarine. Thought to be a heart healthy alternative to butter, quite the opposite is true.
Margarine is loaded with extremely health hazardous vegetable oils, responsible for clogging our arteries and leading to heart disease as well as dozens of other life threatening health conditions.
The irony in all this health heavy hysteria is that if you simply buy a quality grass fed butter, it is actually healthy. Butter contains a fatty acid called Butyrate as well as Vitamin K2, both have very powerful health benefits.
Opt for the all natural grass fed butter instead of the chemical ridden margarine and butter alternative abominations and you will be making one of the best health decisions of your life.
Don’t blindly follow mainstream health propaganda, the clever marketing is leading millions of people into early graves. One large study proved that by replacing butter consumption with margarine, it lead to an immense increased risk of death from heart attack. So saying margarine is a heart healthy alternative to butter is beyond wrong, its negligent and downright infuriating.
These toxic tonics are about as bad as it gets. Vegetable oils such as Soybean oil, Corn Oil, Canola oil and Cottonseed oil are found in nearly every restaurant and most kitchens across North America. Causing severe damage to our bodies and leading to a huge number of diseases through the inflammatory response our body has to these chemical oils.
These vegetable oils are extracted by using awful processing methods including high heat and toxic solvents. Making the oils toxic and extremely hazardous to our health.
The amount of Omega-6 fatty acids in these oils is enormous. While some Omega-6 is essential, we normally get more than enough through meats and nuts. The levels of Omega-6 in vegetable oil puts our system way out of whack, leading to inflammation which leads to any number of chronic diseases and disorders.
These hazardous oils are deposited in our body as fat, making up our cellular membranes. The problem is they are extremely sensitive to damage caused by oxidation, leaving our cells vulnerable and our body constantly under attack. Avoid these oils at all costs!
Choose the healthy alternatives like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Grapeseed Oil. Cold Pressed of course.
If we locked up all the unhealthy health food culprits, breakfast cereals would be the biggest and baddest of all.
Loaded with sugar, refined carbohydrates, harmful oils and chemicals they are then marketed towards our children as a healthy way to start the day. It is sickening.
Starting your day with a high sugar meal high in refined carbohydrates (more sugar) you are setting yourself up for a major crash. Not to mention the inevitable hunger that will come quickly after eating this sugar overloaded “health food” leaving you craving more carbohydrates.
No amount of “whole grain” or “fat-free” labels will make these boxes of death any more desirable, simply read the packages list of ingredients and nutrient value. You are much better off leaving it on the shelf and starting your day with a piece of fruit and a bowl of oatmeal.
What’s worse, most of us pour a good amount of milk overtop our cereal, adding even more sugar and chemicals. Starting your day with this on a regular basis is a sure way into an early grave riddled with disease and inflammation.
A few years ago soy took the health food aisle by storm. Soy snacks, beverages, meat replacements and more all bombarded us with wild claims of amazing health and nutritional benefit. It is no surprise that this marketing ploy was just that, a ploy. Quite frankly it worked, even after all the research done on soy to date millions of people still consume an inordinate amount each day assuming they are making the healthy choice.
A lot of this propaganda was fed by the fact that many Eastern societies enjoy a soy heavy diet and they have some of the healthiest, longest living people on the planet. But one thing that the food giants fail to mention, is they are consuming an entirely different kind of soy. Fermented soy has many health benefits, contributing partially to the longevity and quality of life many individuals consuming a traditional Eastern diet enjoy. Along with a Mediterranean type diet and plenty of antioxidant rich tea.
The raw facts about soy consumption
Many people are aware that by eating soy regularly your estrogen levels get way out of hand, causing all sorts of unwanted side effects. How it does this is not by raising the estrogen directly, but by inhibiting the production of the protein required to eliminate excess estrogen in the body. Without this regulator estrogen levels begin to get out of hand and sky rocket overtime, causing severe hormonal imbalances that can have severe health side effects.
We all know how bad white bread is for us, but what we don’t all know is how equally bad whole wheat bread is for us. The brown tinge has many people fooled, thinking that it is the healthy option when choosing bread. In reality it is like saying that a filtered cigarette is much healthier than an unfiltered one. Well it may be somewhat true, but the difference is so insignificant that it really makes no difference if you choose white or whole wheat.
The carbohydrates found in whole wheat will be digested just as quickly, converted into sugars and cause a severe spike in blood glucose just the same as white breads. The fiber content is minimal and the nutritional value as a whole is laughable.
By choosing the brown colored bread you are avoiding some of the bleaching that goes into making white bread what it is, but in most cases the whole wheat variety is just as filled with toxins and preservatives.
So what’s the answer? Try choosing a high quality preservative free whole grain bread instead. Whole grain breads have a higher fiber content, more nutrients and are a more complex carb making them slower to digest. This means a less severe spike in blood glucose.
While whole grain is still not the healthiest thing you could consume, it is the best of the worst. Moderate your bread consumption, cutting it out completely is unrealistic for many people. Find a whole grain bread you enjoy and cut back your consumption, you will be amazed at just how big of an impact this will have on your health.
This is a fancy way of saying high fructose syrup.
Many health foods are sweetened with Agave, claiming it is a much healthier alternative to sugar. It is low on the glycemic index which means you won’t experience the same spike in blood sugar that you would normally with most sweeteners.
Spiking blood sugar is certainly not good, but it is not the main concern when looking at sweeteners. The high fructose content in agave is the real killer.
Fructose is the number one thing everyone should avoid like the plague. The only organ that can process fructose in any significant amount is the liver. By consuming high fructose corn syrup and high fructose syrups in general, you are bogging down your liver. Putting the onus on your liver to process the enormous amount of sugar, it quickly becomes overwhelmed and starts converting the fructose into fat. Leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and contributing to the dreaded dense fat that surrounds our organs and causes any number of life threatening diseases including heart disease.
Because your liver is going into overdrive, spitting out fat and becoming inflamed and damaged it cannot process toxins nearly as effectively. Any toxins in the blood begin to get a free ride, accumulating in your body with no filtration process to keep them in check.
The bottom line is that agave syrup is loaded with this deadly sugar, destroying your liver and contributing to obesity and organ failure. While it may be low on the glycemic index, it is top of the list of foods to avoid.
Athletes guzzle these colorful beverages on commercials and on the field. But it makes a lot of sense for these extreme athletes to be consuming these sugar filled, electrolyte boosting drinks. While they still contain harmful dye’s and unnecessary chemicals the basic idea of sports drinks makes perfect sense for individuals putting their body through extreme stress on a regular basis.
However for the masses that these drinks are marketed to, the added sugar is a detriment not a boon, and the added electrolytes are simply not needed.
Weighing in at about 30 grams of sugar per bottle, these “healthy” sports drinks are comparable to a can of pop. The much healthier option, even when working out regularly is simply drinking water.
Much like how the Fat Free Frenzy and Sugar Free Craze hit the market like a wrecking ball, the latest food fad is Gluten Free.
Gluten is found in cereal grains, it is responsible for the gooey elastic texture of dough. It is also responsible for many intestinal issues, including inflammation, bloating and gas. This can cause a nutrient deficiency because your gut isn’t able to absorb nutrients while it under such stress.
Cutting back on Gluten is a good idea for just about anyone, whether they suffer a gluten sensitivity, celiac disease or are seemingly fine when consuming it. It is just not healthy, and there are many healthy alternative grains that should be used instead.
The reason Gluten-Free Junk made its way onto the list is because food producers throw the Gluten-Free label on all sorts of packaged foods trying to trick consumers into thinking its the healthiest option. In reality these packaged foods are instead filled with harmful chemicals and toxins that are often not found in the alternative products that do contain gluten.
Instead of using a gluten grain, food producers use other starches like tapioca starch or potato starch. Void of any nutrients, highly refined and spiking your blood sugar just as quickly as a gluten grain would.
Gluten free cookies for example can be far more harmful to your health than a less chemically packed gluten version. Going gluten-free does not mean you are choosing the healthiest option.
When looking to do some baking or cooking, using flours and grains that do not contain gluten it is a wise choice. When buying pre-packaged foods that are labeled “Gluten Free” it is wise to steer clear entirely.
Protein or Energy Bars
Convenient? Yes. Healthy? No.
Much like sports drinks, these glorified chocolate bars are for extreme athletes that are in need of a sugar and protein boost mid training. While whole foods are a much better option regardless of your activity level, sometimes convenience weighs in heavier than the best choice.
For most people these bars are simply pointless. High in unhealthy starches, sugars, artificial flavors and countless other-worldly ingredients thrown in to keep their shelf life almost indefinitely.
While there are a few healthier brands of energy / protein bars, the vast majority of best selling bars are anything but healthy. Marketed as a meal replacement or quick easy way to pack in essential nutrients. By replacing a healthy meal with this bar, you might as well eat a snickers for the same nutritional value.
These highly processed, sugar filled bars are totally unnecessary and they pose a serious risk to your health when consumed regularly.
What To Take Away From All This
If you are purchasing a packaged food, make sure to read the ingredients.
If it has a sticker on it saying Healthy, Fat Free or Sugar Free, avoid it altogether. Chances are it is one of the worst options.
Stick to whole foods and to repeat myself once again, READ THE LABELS!