5 Foods You Thought Were Healthy — But Totally Aren’t
In our constant quest for good health, we pay a lot of attention to our overall diet and strive to consume healthy food most of the time. But sometimes, what's deemed healthy is actually disastrous for our bodies. Here's the lowdown on five foods you thought were healthy but which you should actually go out of your way to avoid.
Microwave popcorn is a staple snack at home and at the office but it's actually extremely bad for you. Not only is it rife with unhealthy chemicals, but the bag itself is coated with non-stick perfluorochemicals linked to serious health problems, including cancer. The fake butter that flavors microwave popcorn, known as diacetyl, causes a serious lung disease — known as "popcorn lung" — when it's inhaled in high quantities.
Instead of microwave popcorn, opt for homemade popcorn, which is easy to make and contains just 30 calories per cup. Use an air popper, or heat 3 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil in a heavy, lidded pan. When the oil's hot, add a couple of kernels, and when they pop, add 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels. Cover the pan, leaving a little crack for steam to escape, and shake it as the corn pops. When the popping stops, you've got yourself a healthy snack that counts as a whole grain.
- Fruit Juice
If you drink a tall glass of OJ each morning for good health, you may as well be drinking a Mountain Dew. Fruit juices are notoriously high in fructose, which our bodies aren't equipped to handle in that quantity. The average fruit juice contains 45.5 grams of fructose per liter, compared to 50 grams per liter in soda. This fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver, where it's quickly converted into fat. Instead of fruit juice, drink a tall glass of water each morning, and eat a piece of fruit.
For eons, margarine was considered to be healthier for you than butter because it's lower in saturated fat, even though this butter substitute was once a major source of trans fat. While most margarines no longer contain trans fats, they're mostly made from chemicals that you just don't find in nature. It's much better to use butter, according to health experts, as long as you use it in moderation. Butter contains a number of fat-soluble vitamins; including A and E, which are powerful antioxidants, and K2, which can help prevent diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Butter also contains a lot of healthy saturated fats, which raise your good cholesterol, and it's a great source of butyrate, a fatty acid that can help reduce inflammation and prevent weight gain.
- Multigrain Bread
You know that refined carbohydrates are bad for you, so you choose multigrain bread instead for sandwiches and toast. But in many cases, multigrain bread is no better than white Wonder bread. Multigrain bread is generally made with a variety of refined flours. Bread made with whole-grain flour, on the other hand, is a much better choice. Look at the ingredients list and avoid it if it contains "bleached" or refined flours, sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup.
- Low-Fat and Nonfat Foods
There was a time when fat was considered to be the devil, touted as a major contributor to heart disease and obesity. But an enormous body of research has since shown that healthy fats — those that come from foods like olive oil, nuts, fish, and avocados — are actually essential for weight management and a healthy heart and brain. Even foods that contain less-healthy fats, like red meat and butter, are healthier for you than low-fat and non-fat foods. That's because fat means flavor and when the fat is removed, it's typically replaced with loads of sugar and salt. Sugar, if you'll recall, has recently been identified as the true culprit behind obesity and heart disease and it's best to avoid it as much as possible.