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The food industry is vicious; they can even convert healthy food into junk! It’s easy to be fooled by crafty marketing gimmicks. They always make it sound like they’ve made your favourite foods healthy and safe to eat, so you don’t have to worry about gaining weight. You’ll be surprised to learn that some of the ‘good-for-you’ foods aren’t actually the healthiest choices. It’s a shame when people commit to a healthy lifestyle choice and work so hard to eat clean, but inadvertently reverse all their efforts due to common misconceptions. Let’s just remember that the food industry spends 4.6 billion dollars per year on advertising.

We’ve rounded up some foods that are popular for being “healthy” but are actually not — so you know where your diet is going wrong.

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1. Baked Banana Chips

A staple midday snack in every Indian household, banana chips are believed to be healthy because they are made out of fruit, and they are baked. But in order to crisp up the bananas, they require a fair amount of oil which ups the calorie game, making it hardly better than a bag of regular chips. You could do a marginally healthier version by making them at home, and watching the amount of oil and sugar you use.

2. Fruit Juice

When sugar became the devil of dieting, every fruit juice company came out with ‘sugar free’ versions or ‘no added sugar’ versions. There are several ways that even a fruit juice can be bad for you. Sugar free versions could imply artificial sweeteners that have the same effect on your blood sugar levels as regular sugar, just with lesser calories. To make a packaged fruit juice last longer, it is packed with preservatives. And finally, even if you choose to do a homemade juice (let’s assume orange), you’d need at least 3 oranges to make one glass. So you’re actually consuming way more calories with a juice, as opposed to eating the fruit, which would also give you the fibre and the same amount of satiety.

3. Granola Bars & Energy Bars

It really just became a trend to be snacking on granola bars, energy bars, and protein bars. But if you flip the wrapper and take a look at the nutrition table, you’ll see how much sugar each bar contains. Since energy bars are meant to give you energy, they are very high in calories, majority of which come from the sugar. There may be a situation where you can’t pack in a proper meal, so you need to snack on an energy bar, which is fine. Just try and pick the ones with lower sugar and calorie content, and don’t make it a permanent replacement for a meal.

4. Dried Fruit

Now dried fruits are actually quite healthy and packed with fibre, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, just like regular fruit. The only problem is that since they are dried out, the size of the fruit shrinks by 70% by making it lose all the water. So to actually feel satiated, we tend to consume so much more than the recommended amount. Can you really be full in a couple of dried figs? Also, sulfur is added to give it a longer shelf life.

5. Soy Milk

When milk became controversial for having hormones, causing acne, etc, soy milk took the limelight. It quickly became the best vegan-friendly, low fat source of protein. But several studies have shown that soy too can mess with your hormonal balance, aggravate thyroid problems, and it has also been linked to cancer. The same applies for other soy-based products like tofu, soybeans, and edamame. The key is to consume in balance – be it regular milk or soy milk.

6. Microwave popcorn

Much like the banana chips argument, in order to make them extra tasty, you need the butter. You’d have noticed the grease in the package. Besides, microwave popcorn is packed with a whole day’s worth of sodium content, which will resultantly make you bloat and give you that uncomfortable over-full feeling. A good tip is to buy unpopped corn kernels and pop them at home with only a healthy scraping of butter. You could even spice it up with interesting flavours, but just watch out for the salt content.

7. Low-Fat Fruit Yogurt

Just because it says low-fat, doesn’t mean it’s healthy, and just because it is flavoured with fruit, doesn’t mean it’s fresh fruit. When you remove the cream from the yogurt, it becomes quite dull and boring to eat. To amp up the taste game, the fat is reduced, but the sugar is increased. And quite simply, you’d rather be consuming full fat yogurt than 15 grams of sugar! When they say flavoured with fruit, it’s usually just essence, which doesn’t give you any benefit of the actual fruit.

Just as everything in nutrition, there is a good and bad side to every food, because what can be good for one person, won’t be good for another. But understanding what you’re consuming will help you make better choices, rather than just going by what’s written on the front of a package. Always read the back!

Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar

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