Food shopping can be a confusing experience. Manufacturers often use clever language and imagery to make us believe a product is healthy, when in fact it’s not at all.

 

Here are five foods that many of us believe to be healthy which are actually best avoided…

 

FRUIT JUICE

It might claim to be ‘one of your five a day’ but did you know that one small (300ml) bottle of pure, squeezed orange juice contains the equivalent to six and a half teaspoons of sugar?! Yes, it’s ‘natural’ sugar, but the body doesn’t know the difference between sugar from fruit juice and sugar from a glass of Coke. Sugar is sugar. Also, beware of shop bought green juices. Many are marketed as green vegetable juices but actually have significantly more fruit (and therefore sugar) than you might imagine.

 

PROCESSED ‘FAT FREE’ OR ‘LOW FAT’ FOODS

Most processed ‘low fat’ foods are horrible hangover from the days when we believed that low fat diets were the answer to weight loss. The fact is, when you remove fat from something it significantly reduces the taste so manufacturers replace the fat with sugar, sweeteners or artificial flavourings… or a combination of them. Most of the time it’s best to stick to the original full fat version.

 

‘HEALTHY’ SYRUPS

Agave syrup, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, date syrup… the list goes on! These are all widely promoted as natural sweeteners and used in products that claim to be ‘refined sugar free’. However, they are all sugars and should be viewed as such. Syrups like date and maple do contain some beneficial nutrients that are stripped away in the sugar refining process but not enough to outweigh the downsides. Honey, too, is more sugar than anything else and should be treated as an occasional treat. Agave is highly processed and some argue that, because of it’s high fructose content, it’s even worse than standard table sugar.

 

BREAKFAST CEREALS

Most of us are aware that cereals like Frosties and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes are packed full of sugar, but there are a lot of breakfast cereals out there pretending to be healthy options when they’re actually not. Watch out for granola and muesli – they’re often significantly higher in sugar than you might imagine. The only way to know for sure is to read the label.

 

WHOLEWHEAT BREAD

It might look healthy, but most shop bought brown bread is incredibly processed. Read the label on your typical brown loaf and you’ll see it’s packed full of chemical additives – emulsifiers, mould inhibitors, preservatives… even trans fats. Steer well clear of any big brand sliced bread…

 

The moral of the story? Pay less attention to the front of food labels and focus your attention on the nutrition information and ingredients list at the back. It’s the only way to be sure of what’s really in your food.