“Healthy” Foods to Avoid

By Nonkululeko Nxumalo

Veggie chips, fat-free salad dressing and water with added vitamins and minerals- sounds healthy right? Well, they’re really not. These healthy-sounding foods may sound ideal to add to your healthy-eating plan, but actually, they’re just junk food in disguise and do more harm than good. Let’s have a look at 6 of these “healthy” foods and otherwise, cleaner options.

Veggie chips
Photo Source: vacavillefruit.com

1. Flavoured Instant Oatmeal

Old-fashioned, regular oatmeal has 0-0.99g of sugar, at least 4g of fibre and 5g of protein per 100g serving. Flavoured instant oatmeal, on the other hand, can have as much as 13g of sugar per 50g serving and is packed with sodium and artificial flavourings.

Cleaner option: Cook your regular oats the night before, refrigerate and add fresh fruits, coconut, nuts or cinnamon for flavour.

2. Fat-free Salad Dressing

It may have less fat, but it’s high in sodium, carbohydrates, sugar and has zero vitamins. Not such good news for those on a weight-loss diet now is it? 1 tablespoon of fat-free salad dressing contains 12 calories.

Cleaner option: Whip up your own dressing. I usually make my own by blending together 1 avocado, various fresh herbs, 1 garlic clove, lime juice with some salt and black pepper.

3. Water with added Vitamins and Minerals

Crammed with artificial dyes, sugar and has no real fruit. These non-carbonated soft drinks contain 27-32g of sugar per serving (500ml) which amounts to 6-8 teaspoons of sugar.

Cleaner option: Stick to plain water. If you want some flavour, add fruit pieces like lemon slices, berries, watermelon, kiwi, peaches, etc.

Mineral water bottles
Photo Source: fitday.com

4. Pretzels

Yes, they are low in fats and calories, but they are also low in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are high in sodium, have no nutritional value and aren’t filling which often leads to over-eating.

Cleaner option: Go for snacks that are high in essential goods like nuts, fruits and veggies.

5. Veggie Chips

The sound of chips made from beetroot or butternut sounds extremely healthy, but they are filled with sodium, saturated and trans fats. Too much of these fats can raise your cholesterol and increase risks of heart disease. You might as well be eating regular potato chips.

Cleaner option: Bake your own from baby marrow, carrots or beetroot. Slice the vegetables into thin slices, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place onto a baking pan lined with baking paper. Bake for 10-20 minutes at 200 degrees celsius, watching them carefully, until crispy and slightly brown. Wait for them to cool for a few minutes before eating.

6. Sugary Yoghurt

Yoghurt is known to have good bacteria that benefit your gut and may boost your immune system, however, these sugary snacks have added sugar and artificial flavourings that make them more like junk food.

Cleaner option: Go for plain or Greek yoghurt instead. Stir in fresh fruit, nuts, some honey or healthy seeds like chia, flax or sunflower seeds. Greek yoghurt is a high-protein yoghurt, low calorie for a weight-loss diet and is filled with nutrients.

Don’t be fooled. Manufacturers trick you into thinking that you’re buying healthy food when you’re actually not. Don’t just read the front of the packaging, read both the ingredient list and the nutritional labels, and always opt for the cleaner option.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.

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20 Responses

  1. I couldn’t agree more. There are so many ways to toss together healthy snacks with nutritional value. It may take a little more time but ultimately your won’t waste time visiting doctors and pharmacies to sort out all the health issues that come with eating unhealthy snacks.

        1. Hey Charlie Charles, good to see you read my article 🙂 Thought so too, but hey, we learn something new everyday. Thanks for reading.

  2. Great work keep on pushing and hopefully people start living a healthier life. I’m inspired

  3. I must say, I have been a victim of the fat free salad dressing and vitamin water. Thank you for the great insight and a well written piece.

    1. Thank you, Nomtha. I appreciate the read. For me it’s the vitamin water, I used to buy it in bulk. After my research for this article, I couldn’t believe the amount of toxins we put in our bodies unaware.

    1. Don’t forget to always go for the healthier option, Zee. Otherwise, happy munching 🙂

  4. Thank u my baby for the info. You know I’m not really a fan of healthy eating, gyms and the likes but after I have read this article I definitely think this is food for thought. Love this and love u more my baby. This is my daughter. So proud of you dear.

  5. All true, Nonkululeko. So-called ‘healthy’ foods should be re-classified as junk food. I do not imbibe. My aversion to food promoted as ‘healthier’ started many decades ago with margarine, which, by law, used to be white so as not to be confused with butter. The industry lobbied (bribed was touted at the time?) the government to allow it to add yellow colouring. Since then it has been marketed as healthier and good for your heart. Science often indicates otherwise To me it looks like plastic and tastes like … uurggh. Butter is Better – as their advert once said. It most certainly tastes better and definitely improves the taste of cooking and baking. All in moderation of course.

    1. I heard about margarine vs butter. Manufactures will never stop feeding us nonsense about their products being ‘healthier’. I watched a documentary a while ago about some health associations who benefit from these manufactures and in turn promote their so-called ‘healthy’ foods as good for your health. The doccie is called ‘What The Health’, watched it on YouTube. But anyhow, thank you so much for reading, Peter.

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