We all know that Cheetos aren’t good for you and Snapple is not a superfood. But what about the many foods that we think are “healthy” or “all-natural” choices—but just aren’t? We’re talking your everyday snacks, like fruit-bottom yogurt and popcorn. Here are 4 red-flag foods that might be hiding in your kitchen right now.
Protein bars are very close to being considered junk food if not eaten in the right manner. Dr. SeemaTyrewala, a celebrity nutritionist, says, “People have a huge misconception about protein bars. For those who don’t work out, a lot of protein increases uric acid levels, and is heavy on the kidney.” She cites the example of a client who snacked on many protein bars in a day as he thought he was getting his dose of protein from them, plus they were tasty. “They also add to the cholesterol content of the body as they are heavy on sugar,” she adds.
The popularity of breakfast cereal can be attributed to heavy marketing, which began in the early 19th century in North America. While earlier, they were oats and corn ‘grits’, it was the cornflakes that took the market by storm. But what’s available these days is quite different, “Breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar. The ones that are made of chocolate and other sweetened dried fruits are high in calories. People should buy non-branded corn flakes that are cheaper. For sweetness, fruits or honey can be added as that’s a healthier option,” says clinical nutritionist Shilpa Mittal. “While cereals do provide nutrition, one doesn’t know in what quantity they are absorbed by the body and we often end up consuming large amounts of sugar instead,” she adds.
Marketed as ‘beneficial to all’, sports drinks are far from that tall claim. “Most sports drinks have the sugar content that is three times more than what is needed,” says Dr. Tyrewala, who has often encountered patients who were actively working out but had sugar problems. “If you are consuming that much sugar, what is the use of working out?” she asks. People, she adds, need to read the labels carefully and see the amount and forms of sugar — including dextrose — that is included in the drink. Mittal recommends homemade nimbu-paani as a better alternative. “It has the electrolytes you need, and one can control the amount of sugar they want to consume,” she explains.
Products like flour and bread are often sold as containing ‘seven-grains’, ‘multigrain’ and ‘brand’, but what the clever labeling hides is that the nutrients are added later, after the processing step. Says Mittal, “Most multi-grain products have very smart labeling. They cover up how there’s very little multi-grains present in the mix. At times, multigrain flour merely has 10% of whole grain, which means it’s not even one percent in one roti,” she says, adding that people should instead make the flour at home.