What do you mean, 5 of the worst healthy foods for your body? Doesn't really sound right? These days a lot of foods are made to sound much healthier than they actually are. In fact, some of the healthiest-sounding foods our there are anything but. Here's what made the list.
1) Diet Soda
Deep down I think most of us know that diet sodas aren't actually a health food, rather a calorie-free beverage that's available to pacify the desire for something sugary. Loaded with artificial sweeteners, like aspartame and sucralose, it should come as no surprise that too much (or any) is not good. But it turns out that, too many diet sodas can actually increase weight and be bad for your heart. Findings from a a recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session showed that postmenopausal women who consumed two or more diet sodas daily were 50 percent more likely to die of a cardiovascular-related disease. Another study out of Purdue University showed that people who consume diet soda were at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
2) Processed Vegetable Oils
Processed vegetables oils, including corn, Canola, cottonseed and soybean oil, find their way to a grocery store shelf after sitting in a warehouse for a couple of months. Not only are these oils a byproduct of the most genetically modified crops in the country, they've also been de-waxed, bleached, deodorized and exposed to high heat long before they reach the fairly translucent liquid you can easily pour into a pan.
Vegetable oils are a polyunsaturated fat (PUFA). Not all PUFAs are bad. In fact, many are great. Fish oil, fresh ground flax seeds, raw nuts, fish, any many fresh vegetables all contain some amount of PUFAs. PUFAs are fragile fats, meaning they oxidize easily, particularly when exposed to too much heat, air and light. The process of simply getting vegetable oils to a consumer-ready product introduces all three of these elements. By the time a vegetable oil has made its way to a container, it's fairly oxidized (read: rancid). When we eat oxidized oils, they do a number on our body by creating free radicals. Free radicals damage our body much in the same way that rust damages a car. We deteriorate faster, look older and start to fall apart.
Vegetable oils are also high in omega-6 fatty acids. Our body needs a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Some experts believe the ratio should be 1:4 and others believe it should be as much as 1:1. Right now most Americans ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is 1:16. Translation: we eat far too many omega-6 fatty acids and far too few omega-3 fatty acids. Excessive omega-6 intake is associated with inflammation, weight gain and chronic disease.
Instead of cooking with vegetable oils or eating foods containing vegetable oils, trying including healthier varieties, including coconut oil, olive oil or butter (for some). Add avocados, eggs and organic nut butters to meals. Don't forget to eat plenty of healthy fats containing loads of essential omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, sardines, nuts and flax seeds (ground).
3) Unfermented Soy Products
Most soy is GMO, or genetically modified. In fact, soybeans are one of the most dominant GMO crops in the country. This is a big deal because GMO food is paired with antibiotic resistant marker genes that let scientists know if their GMO food is behaving correctly (is the soy bean big enough? green enough? etc). These little marker genes don’t just vanish into thin air. They’re passed onto other plants, animals and people. Bottom line: why aren’t antibiotics working as well as they should? Go ask the soybean and other GMO foods.
Soy, if consumed via soy milk or tofu, contains high concentrations of isoflavones, which have a profound estrogenic effect on the body. To put this in perspective, the amount of isoflavones in soy milk given to an infant contains the equivalent (hormone) estrogenic amount of 4 to 5 birth control pills. No adult, much less a baby, needs that much. When it comes to cancer, if there is a history of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, there is good reason to give soy consumption serious thought.
Most importantly, many soy products are largely junk. Soy chips, soy lattes, soy protein bars, soy wraps and even gigantic chunks of tofu all contain little to no nutritional value, yet we’ve been brainwashed into thinking they’re healthy foods.
Americans are under the impression that people who live in Asia eat large amounts of soy products. Given that countries like China and Japan are collectively healthier than the United States, they must be onto something, right? So if they're eating lots of soy, we should, too. Let's define the word lots. A 4-ounce serving of firm tofu is about 17 grams of protein. A soy protein bar is anywhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 40 grams. Let's say 17 grams is plenty and call it a day. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, "high" soy consumption in Japan was defined as approximately 8 grams of protein for men and 7 grams of protein for women - that's it. Roughly the amount found in a 2-ounce serving of tofu.
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If you’re a soy person, I’m not trying to persuade or offend you. People are very attached to this particular food because it’s in everything. If you’re the type of person who shares a bowl of edamame with friends every now and then, you’re probably just fine! But if your diet largely consists of soy for protein, particularly processed soy protein, consider investigating the effects soy could have on your body.
4) Whole Grains
I don't want to debate whether or not you should people bread, avoid gluten or go easy on starchy carbs (although I think most should!), but I do think people in general need not get suckered into thinking every single package in the grocery store with the words "Whole Grains" is good. In fact, a vast majority are not. Take this box of Lucky Charms, for instance. It boasts a big "Whole Grain" banner on the top. Yet on the inside, it's loaded with 13 ingredients, three of which are sugar. In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health recently did an analysis of 545 grain products. The results showed that of all the products reviewed, those marked with the Whole Grain Stamp contained more sugar and calories than grain-based products that did not have the stamp.
The bottom line is to become familiar with the foods you're eating by reading the nutrition facts and ingredients. If you see the words enriched, high fructose corn syrup, or sugar in the ingredient list, put it back.
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Fruit, on its own, will not destroy your health. In fact fruit is pretty darn healthy. It's when we overdose on fruit and think that we can eat limitless amounts with no consequence that we hurt our health - badly. The benefits of fresh fruits come in the form of various vitamins and nutrients that naturally occur. The fresher the fruit, the greater the nutrient benefits. Eating an apple or a bowl of fresh berries is not a problem for most people. Just don't turn your serving of fresh fruit into a monster-size bowl.
The sugar un fruit is called fructose. Fructose is broken down in the body a little different than other sugars.
Eating a banana or a handful of grapes is just fine, as long as you don’t have too much food in your belly. Here’s why. Think of your liver as a gas tank. When we eat a meal, our “tank” is full. We don’t need any more fuel. But when we eat a little extra, particularly in the form of fruit, our body’s reserve mechanism is to store fructose as triglyceride, and ultimately as fat. This is simply how our body works with this particular type of sugar. So not only have you stored a little extra fat, but it’s also possible that you’ve elevated your triglycerides.
Bottom line on fruit - especially if you have belly fat: eat a little, not a lot.
Keep in mind that most packaged foods contain some sort of fructose (often as high fructose corn syrup). Fruit is not the only food that has the potential to store fat, all high sugar foods do.
Traci is a nationally-recognized health and fitness coach, and the current coach working with Steve Harvey's Bridal Bootcamp. Traci has also been featured on Dr. Oz, The TODAY Show, in SHAPE, SELF and local news programs. Her specialty is weight loss through clean eating and interval-style training. Traci is available for private coaching and corporate consulting. To contact Traci, please email email@example.com.
Filed under: Nutrition/Diet