We’ve become a world fixated on every health trend that pops up on our social media feeds. Avoid all carbs and eat fat instead, only eat between an eight hour window, egg yolks are the sinner of all sins, acai bowls are “healthier” than a stack of pancakes, bananas are making you fat, and what even is milk if it’s not made from nuts?
While everything in moderation is A-OK, what is true and what is total BS amongst all these trends?
Here we reveal the five biggest ‘health foods’ that are all crap and are making you fat.
How many yolks have you thrown out just this year simply because you’ve been told the yolk is high in cholesterol and calories? One too many we’re assuming.
But in actual fact, science now shows the whole egg is one of the healthiest foods to consume. Research published in the Medical Science Monitor in 2007, involving 9,500 overweight but otherwise healthy adults, showed that eating one or more eggs a day had no impact on cholesterol levels and didn’t increase the subjects’ risk of heart disease or stroke. The most surprising data they found was that there appeared to be an association between egg consumption and decreased blood pressure.
Another study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2008, compared the results of following the Atkins lifestyle both with and without eggs, and found those who ate three eggs a day was associated with a greater increased in HDL (AKA good) cholesterol.
It’s definitely a favourite for everyone, especially for crazy keto dieters, but unfortunately it’s incredibly calorie dense. Fact: just one tablespoon of the average peanut butter contains 100 calories and 8 grams of fat… and we all know once you start you can’t stop. Spread it on a piece of toast and add some banana slices or jam, and you have a meal that won’t keep you feeling full for long.
As hard as it is, dietitian Melissa Meier explains to try your best to limit your intake and always check the ingredients list before purchasing a tub:
“Peanut butter is quite nutritious, providing heart-healthy fats, a protein punch and a dose of gut-friendly fibre. But before you chow down on tub upon tub of the stuff you were used to as a little kid, be sure to opt for a natural variety (one that’s 100 per cent peanuts) and enjoy it in sensible portions.”
Protein and muesli bars
They’re easy, on-the-go options, but although they might be placed in the healthy food aisle of your supermarket, not all ‘healthy’ bars are actually healthy – and some even pack in more sugar than a serving of artificial lollies!
Accredited practising dietitian Paula Norris, took to Instagram to show how a ‘healthy’ snack bar can derail your diet – and blood sugars – faster than a chocolate can.
“This is a good example. The product on the left contains oats and nuts (healthy) and markets the fibre content, absence of artificial ingredients and use of ‘natural’ and organic ingredient,” Norris explained in the post.
“However, when you look at the nutrition information panel you will see it contains as many calories as two Mars bars, has loads of saturated fat and over four teaspoons of added sugar (even ‘natural’ honey is a sugar).”
Meier advises you follow this five-step checklist when shopping for a snack bar:
1. Energy content: “As a guide, a snack around 600kjs is usually a good option.”
2. Fibre: “Most people already know that it’s important for a healthy digestive system, but something that’s a little less mainstream is that fibre can actually help to keep you feeling full. It’s also beneficial for our hearts and can help to manage blood sugars, too.”
3. Wholegrains: make sure to pick one that contains oats as oats are packed with fibre, are high in protein compared to other grains, and will provide you with long-lasting energy.
4. Sugar: “Opt for a bar with less than 15 grams of sugar per 100 grams.” Meier also points out that your bar might also have more sugar if it contains dried fruit, so it’s also important to “read the ingredients list to understand where the sugar is coming from.”
5. Saturated fat: “Packaged foods can often be a source of unhealthy saturated fat, so check the nutrition panel and choose something with less than 3 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams.”
Yoghurt (flavoured and frozen)
Plain Greek yoghurt is an excellent healthy snack option, but the problem comes in when it’s flavoured with fruits (read: sugar).
“Unfortunately, some flavoured yoghurts contain up to the equivalent of eight teaspoons of extra sugar per 200g serve, making them more like a dairy dessert than a healthy dairy snack,” Norris explains. “It’s easy to get confused because milk sugar (lactose), sugar from added fruit and other added sugars are all totalled together on the nutrition information panel.”
For natural yoghurts and artificially sweetened yoghurts, look for 5-6 grams of sugar per 100g because at this level, all of the sugar is coming from the naturally occurring milk sugar lactose.
If you can’t resist a flavoured yoghurt, choose one which has less than 10g of total sugar. But the best option is to opt for a plain Greek yoghurt topped with fresh fruits of your choice.
As for frozen yoghurt, Meier says these are high in calories, and full of saturated fat and added sugar.
Generally speaking, “one scoop (50 grams) of frozen yoghurt is likely to contain about 65 calories, one gram of saturated fat, more than 10 grams of sugar, and only 60 milligrams of calcium.”
If you whip one up at home with a bit of milk, fresh fruit, a small handful of good fats from nuts, and some plain Greek yoghurt, your smoothie will contain a good amount of calories and healthy sugars that will leave you feeling full for hours.
On the other hand, that mango/acai/chocolate delight smoothie you pick up from your local café after a Saturday morning Pilates sesh can contain more than 500 calories and a whopping 67 grams of sugar. The World Health Organisation recommends you keep your sugar intake to less than 10 percent of your total energy intake in order to reduce your risk of becoming overweight or obese.
For more on this topic, this is your complete guide to calories in food, and these are the foods that have more carbs than a piece of bread.
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