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Would the real "health food" please stand up

By Matt O'Neill, MSc(Nut&Diet), APD

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Some foods (or food manufacturers) may be trying to convince you that their foods are healthy when they are not so healthy. So, which ones are not a healthy as you may think. Here are my top 10.

1. Fruit juice

Orange juice does have Vitamin C, but unlike eating fruit, you don't get the fibre. And the sugar content is almost equal to sugared soft drink.

A 250mL glass will give you 20g sugar.

Drinking vegetable juice will cut the sugar.

2. Banana bread

Bananas are good, but because banana bread is only usually 1/4 bananas & has added sugar & fat, its a high-calorie treat.

A 60g slice has 810kJ/194Cal with 1/2 piece of fruit but with 15g sugar & 10g fat.

Just have a banana & save cake for a treat.

3. Agave nectar

Seems more natural than sugar, but its still sugar. While its 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, in theory you can use less, but in practise its still nutrient-poor.

A 20mL tablespoon has 3 teaspoons of sugar.

Molasses is the only syrup that contains any nutrients of significance & but can be a bit thick to use.

4. Muesli bars with choc drizzle

Ok, so its not like a full-on chocolate bar, but its also not like a nutrient-rich nut or seed bar either.

You get around 2 tsp added sugar in this one.

Go for a nut or trail bar instead. Or make your own protein bar.

5. Almond milk

Almond milk is naturally low in calcium & protein, but high in carbohydrate.

Unless it's fortified with calcium - which isn't always the case - almond milk is more like starchy bread in it nutritional composition.

With as little as 2% almonds in some brands, you only get the goodness of 5 almonds in a 250mL glass.

6. Coconut oil

It's not that coconut oil is suddenly good for you.

It's that saturated fats consumed in natural, whole foods are not as bad for you as we once thought.

Use it in your favourite curry, but olive oil is a much better every day oil & contains antioxidants that coconut oil doesn't.

7. Flavoured yoghurt

Here's how to tell if a yoghurt is a good choice...

If it has 15g sugars or less per 200g tub, it's a goer. Anything more than this indicates added sugar.

Choose a Greek yoghurt or one that says 'probiotic' on the label.

You won't get much lower than 15g sugars per 200g because that's how much is naturally there from dairy sugar - lactose. This is OK to eat, unless you have a lactose intolerance.

8. Protein bars

While some protein bars are more 'wholesome' than others, many are just a highly processed mix of protein & fillers.

They might be a convenient hit of protein, but some are more like confectionery.

Check the ingredients list for added sugars. And consider a nut or trail bar as a cheaper & just as good source of protein.

9. Nutella

Sugar is the first ingredient & is 57% of what's in this jar! The second ingredient is palm oil, which is saturated.

This is not a nut spread - its like chocolate with 13% hazelnuts.

That's 2g of hazelnut in a 15g serve.

10. Coca-Cola Life

I'm sure you don't need me to convince you of this one. Coke Life has a green label, has 1/3 less sugar than regular Coke & is sweetened with a the "more natural" Stevia.

BUT still has 21g sugar (4 teaspoons) in a 330mL bottle.

Switch to nutrient-rich & keep these foods as sometimes foods where they belong.



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