We’ve all been warned numerous times about staying away from fast food, sodas, and processed meats. But there are plenty of foods marketed as “healthy” that we should really only eat in moderation. Take fruit snacks, for instance. Some really do contain antioxidants like vitamins C and E, but they are also full of sugar—sometimes even more than candy, with a whopping 18 grams per serving. Just because certain foods sound like they are healthy foods doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthy.
I Thought These Were Healthy Foods…Then Again, Maybe Not So Much
Soy: Soy may come from a green bean, but that doesn’t mean it should fall in the healthy foods category. Often people who become vegetarian begin to rely on soy-based foods for protein, which can have an impact on their health. For women, eating large amounts of soy, which has estrogen-mimicking compounds, may reduce fertility. For kids, isoflavones in soy can trigger early puberty and disrupt development of fetuses and children. For men, one study conducted by Oxford University revealed that men who consumed just half a serving of soy-based foods daily over three months had a lower sperm count than men who didn’t consume soy foods at all.
Margarine: You may have been eating margarine for years because you have high cholesterol, but just because it’s cholesterol-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you all-around. Margarine contains a lot of trans fat, which can damage blood vessel walls and increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attack. As an alternative, try olive oil-based spreads that have no trans fat and are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Whole milk: Whole milk isn’t bad for everyone. For kids that are picky eaters, whole milk can provide the fats they need that they’re not getting from food. But for kids with healthy appetites or who have a family history of obesity or heart problems, either 1% or skim milk may be the better choice. Whole milk contains a lot of extra fat, which can lead to weight issues including obesity, increased bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, and lower good cholesterol (HDL). For adults, this means potentially clogging your arteries over the long haul. Some other calcium-fortifying alternatives to whole milk include almond and cashew milk.
Fruit juice: Just like fruit snacks, fruit juices come with the benefits of vitamins, but with loads of added sugars including corn syrup. Consuming a high amount of these sugars can lead to weight gain, hypertension, and chronic inflammation. It can also elevate triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Even if the label states 100% fruit juice with all natural sugars, you may still be consuming as much sugar as a soda— which we all know is not good for us. If you want to get the vitamins without consuming too much sugar at once, eat more whole fruits and less fruit juice. You can also try unsweetened juices, which may take time getting used to, but are definitely worth the effort.
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