There’s a whole lot of information out there about what’s healthy and what’s not which can make choosing the right foods tricky. There have been a few foods over the last few years touted as the best thing since green juice only to discover a little while later that we haven’t been given the whole truth. Number one on this list is a great example of this.
Agave was pitched as the low glycaemic ‘natural sweetener’, meaning that it won’t raise your blood sugar. However, the chemical process involved in manufacturing agave nectar is very similar to the corn refiners used to make high-fructose corn syrup. Agave is pretty much pure fructose. The alternative? Choose one of these healthy sweeteners instead.
I love almond milk and it’s a great alternative to dairy and soy milk. But it’s the shop bought almond milk that can be problematic. Many ready-made almond milks contain carageenan – a derivative of seaweed called which can cause problems in the body’s GI tract so if you have any problems such as bloating or IBS, stay away! (fyi carageenan is also used in some other products such as dairy, cottage cheese etc.) The alternative? Make nut milk at home. Find out how here.
Many breakfast bars profess to contain plenty of fibre and protein but in most cases, they are just full of sugar. Low-fat, reduced-fat, fortified oats – whatever the label, most breakfast bars deliver a whollop of sugar to every single cell in your body. The alternative? Make your own whole food breakfast bars or have a piece of fruit like a low-GI apple or pear.
The negative impact of eating dairy products seems to be known by few, as we are constantly bombarded with marketing and media that tells us we have to get our calcium from milk and cheese which isn’t true. There are a few problems with dairy; the cows our milk products come from are often intensively farmed, kept in poor conditions and develop diseases like mastitis. They are then given antibiotics to cure the condition which ends up in their milk /cheese products and into your body. They are also pumped full of hormones to make them produce more at a faster rate, again, with the residues making their way into your food. This all leads to creating a very pro-inflammatory environment, something we know promotes disease. The alternative? Make nut milk or nut cheese at home. Further reading: 7 Reasons to avoid dairy products.
Frozen yoghurt isn’t something we eat a lot of here in the UK, however it does trick many into believing it’s the healthier option to ice-cream. It is infact just simple sugars and calories and that’s not including the toppings!
The alternative? Make homemade icecream by freezing some bananas and mixed fruit. Take it out of the freezer, leave to defrost for 10minutes and whizz in the blender.
Multi-grain, 7-grain, and whole wheat sound like the healthier option, but many breads labeled “multi-grain” and “wheat” are typically made with refined grains, so you’re being deceived by not getting the full nutritional benefit of the whole grain. If the first flour in the ingredient list is refined, it will typically say “bleached” or “unbleached enriched wheat flour” meaning you are not getting a 100% whole-grain bread. Gluten is also a massive problem for many and can cause digestive problems, gas, bloating & diarrhea. The alternative? Switch to gluten free bread like Genius.
Peanuts are the most heavily sprayed and pesticide-ridden nut. They also contain aflatoxins which are carcinogenic. While regular peanut butter contains some ‘good’ monosaturated fats, reduced-fat versions contain additional sugar. The alternative? Try an organic almond, cashew, pecan or walnut butter. Carleys Organic and Meridian do a great range.
While some fish do contain some healthful benefits, Atlantic Salmon (or farmed salmon) contain high levels of PCB’s ((polychlorinated biphenyl) often used as a coolant fluid in electric motors. Farmed fish are kept in poor conditions and antibiotics and other chemicals are placed in the water in order to keep the fish alive and to deal with the parasites and bacteria that are often rife. The effects on the body can result in immunosuppression, reproductive problems and nervous and endocrine system disruption. The alternative? Get your omegas from supplements like Udo’s.
Soy products (milk, soy sauce) and tofu have been touted as the healthy alternative for those that do not wish to eat meat but the truth is, soy is not good for you. The soybean contains aflatoxins, known to be carcinogenic and when soy is processed in the western world, the aflatoxin remains in tact, making it harmful to the body. Some organic fermented soy products are fine in moderation, however products like soy milk and tofu are often genetically modified. According to “The Whole Soy Story”, many studies link soy to cancer, malnutrition, thyroid dysfunction and more. The alternative? Make nut milk or use fermented soy products like miso paste for flavouring.