Question: if I’m craving something sweet but I want to keep it healthy and not kill my diet effort, what do you think I should eat, a sugar donut or a bottled fruit smoothie? The answer may appear obvious, but if you guessed the bottled smoothie, you’re actually wrong. Why? While a sugar donut contains about four grams of sugar, a bottled smoothie may contain up to 120 grams of sugar. Shocked? The ugly truth is that many of the “healthy” foods lining supermarket shelves are actually junk foods in disguise.
People have finally figured out that sugar is bad, but how bad exactly? High consumption of the sweet stuff has been linked to health issues that range from obesity and type 2 diabetes to heart disease and stroke. Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of clinical pediatrics in the division of endocrinology in the University of California and a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism, says that your body can safely metabolize six teaspoons of added sugar per day. But since most Americans are consuming over three times that amount, the majority of the excess sugar becomes metabolized into body fat, leading to all the debilitating chronic metabolic diseases many people are struggling with.
This intense addiction to sugar is becoming rampant, not just among adults, but in children as well. In fact, the average American consumes about 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. It’s definitely alarming, considering the average Englishman during the 1700s only consumed four pounds of sugar per year, and that was most likely from healthful natural sources like fruits, and not from the processed foods you see on supermarket shelves today. What’s even more disturbing is that people are consuming excessive sugar in the form of fructose or high-fructose corn syrup. This highly processed form of sugar is cheaper yet 20 percent sweeter than regular table sugar, which is why many food and beverage manufacturers decided to use it for their products, as it allows them to save money in the long run.
Although mounting consumer awareness in the past 10 years has caused soft drink sales to drop dramatically, very creative marketers started to pick up on the fact that people are looking for more healthy options and came up with health-centric phrases like “whole wheat,” “gluten-free,” and “low-fat” for foods that are in fact loaded with added sugars and other naughty ingredients. These are what nutritionists define as fake health foods; here are some of the sneakiest ones.
A lot of people believe fruit juices to be healthy because, after all, they come from fruit. Sadly, a lot of the fruit juice you find in the supermarket isn’t really fruit juice. Sometimes there isn’t even any actual fruit in there, just chemicals that taste like fruit. The problem is that even if you’re drinking 100% fruit juice, it is still a bad idea. If you didn’t know, fruit juice actually contains a similar amount of sugar as a sugar-sweetened beverage.
Whole Wheat Bread
Unfortunately, whole wheat bread isn’t as healthy as it seems. “The grain is highly heated in the process of turning the wheat berry into flour, which removes the natural vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that would naturally be found in wheat,” says Louisiana-based dietitian Daphne Olivier. Worse, the typical store-bought whole wheat bread has up to four times more ingredients than what’s necessary to make bread and contains both high fructose corn syrup and molasses, making it a poor choice for anybody trying to make healthy food a priority.