3 Typically ‘Healthy’ Foods That Are Not Good For You
Marketing can be extremely clever, and there are many packaged foods out there that are branded as healthy in one way or another: 2 of your five a day, high protein, low calorie, supports the immune system, low fat, gut friendly… take your pick!
All these phrases are probably true in some respect, there may be ingredients that support your immune system or your gut health, but they don’t shout about the other ingredients that are causing you more harm than good and will cancel out any of the benefits that are advertised on the packaging! Plus, you should always be wary of food that are labelled as ‘low fat’ or ‘low calorie’ as these are usually ultra-processed and, in turn, ultra-harmful.
Read The Packaging
As a general rule I am wary of any packaged food, as packaged usually equates to packed with preservatives (or other nasties!), as they need something to stop the food going ‘off’. If you are buying anything that comes in a packet, please read the label. You need to know what you are consuming on a regular basis because, unfortunately, so many foods contain highly inflammatory, or even toxic, ingredients.
As an example, I have looked at the label of some conventionally ‘healthy’ supermarket foods on your behalf and outlined the ingredients to watch out for and why.
Ingredients: Cooked Chickpeas (42%) [Chickpeas, Water], Rapeseed Oil (16%), Water, Tahini (12%) [Sesame Seed Paste], Smoked Chickpeas (10%) [Chickpeas, Water, Wood Smoke], Concentrated Lemon Juice, Salt, Vinegar, Garlic Purée [Garlic, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid]
As you can see, this hummus is only 42% chickpeas (hummus should be mostly chickpeas!) and has some pretty inflammatory ingredients. Rapeseed Oil is labelled as a healthier alternative oil to sunflower oil. It is high in omega-6, which people see as a health benefit but too much omega-6, without enough omega-3, causes high levels of inflammation.
Unfortunately, rapeseed oil often comes from genetically modified sources. Conventional farming has modified the genes of the rape plant to make it pest-resistant, so they can produce larger yields and, in turn, make larger profits. GMO foods seem like a great solution to pest and farming issues, until you hear about the links between GMO and allergies, antibiotic resistance and cancer.
In addition, rapeseed oil is often highly processed. The oil is usually cleaned with a chemical solvent called hexane before being filtered. This ‘cleaning’ process increases toxicity whilst reducing the nutritional benefits such as vitamin E and healthy fats. If you’re buying rapeseed oil, then I recommend buying organic and cold-pressed – this goes for any kind of oil! But remember, you should NEVER cook with this oil as it becomes highly oxidised when exposed to a high temperature and can release toxic compounds are a result.
Just because an oil has a high smoke point (the temperature of when the oil starts to smoke) does NOT mean that it is still stable in high heat.
However, I recommend NOT buying food with high quantities of rapeseed oil in the ingredients list because you don’t know the quality but can assume it’s not of high enough quality to benefit your health.
This store-bought hummus also contains potentially inflammatory ingredients, such as garlic and lemon juice. If you suffer from IBS or have bacterial or candida overgrowth in the gut, garlic may result in bloating, gas or stomach pain. This is because garlic is high in fructans, which many people are intolerant to and will trigger symptoms in those who have existing digestive issues.
Lemon is another surprising food sensitivity that comes up time and time again in my private practice – it is more common than you would think! This is why I often use lime juice in recipes, rather than lemon juice.
I just want to be clear here that garlic and lemon are not unhealthy foods. They’re just not for everybody…
Synergised Nutrition has lots of healthy alternatives that, not only avoid triggering any unpleasant symptoms, but are anti-inflammatory and actually benefit your health! Why not try the Heavy Metal Detox Hummus for some green goodness, or warm yourself up with the Golden Turmeric Hummus recipe or stick to a classic that always hits the spot with the Creamy Healthy Hummus. All these recipes are very simple to make and are made without inflammatory ingredients, which can be adapted to suit your personal taste.
Ingredients: Chickpeas (27%) (Water, Chickpeas), Onions, Broad Beans (19%), Rapeseed Oil, Chickpea Flour, Rice Flour, Coriander, Parsley, Garlic Purée, Ground Spices (Cumin, Coriander, Black Pepper, Ginger, Cayenne Pepper), Salt, Lemon Zest, Green Chilli Purée, Cornflour, Dextrose
Falafel is a popular healthy dish, if made at home or produced with organic and fresh ingredients! Unfortunately, the majority of supermarket falafel tell the same story as the ingredients listed above, and I chose one of the “healthiest” ones as an example!
Supermarket falafel is packed full of inflammatory and processed flour, in this product alone there is chickpea flour, rice flour and cornflour! Don’t get me wrong, chickpea flour is ok on occasion but rice and cornflour are not!
Rice flour is low protein, pretty much no nutritional value and high in carbohydrates, which can cause your blood glucose levels to spike AND lead to unwanted weight gain & inflammation.
Cornflour also has a high glycaemic index, resulting in blood sugar spikes and comes with even more health risks. Not only can is massively increase blood sugar levels, but it’s also so low in fibre that it delays the absorption of sugar, taking your body longer to detoxify and rebalance. It is also loaded with empty calories. Therefore, cornflour offers you no nutritional benefit, whilst contributing to weight gain.
I LOVE falafels but I wouldn’t go near the store-bought options due to them being absent of any nutritional value, high in carbohydrates which spike blood sugar and, often, contain artificial preservatives, fillers or flavours.
I make my own Healthy Falafels, which contain absolutely NO flour and don’t need to be fried! They are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and only use ingredients that are nutritious and delicious. I often make a huge batch and freeze them so my dinner is pretty much ready on busy weekdays.
Oat Milk Ingredients: Water, Oats 10%, Rapeseed Oil, Minerals (Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Phosphates, Potassium Iodide), Salt, Vitamins (D2, Riboflavin, B12)
Almond Milk: Water, Almond (2.3%), Calcium (Tri-Calcium Phosphate), Sea Salt, Stabilisers (Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum), Emulsifier (Lecithins (Sunflower)), Vitamins (B2, B12, E, D)
Hemp Milk: Water, Hemp Seed Base (4%), Acidity Regulator (Dipotassium Phosphate), Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Stabiliser (Gellan Gum), Sea Salt
There are so many inflammatory ingredients in supermarket bought plant-based milk, that it’s almost not worth making the switch from dairy. Dairy is a common food intolerance, plus extremely inflammatory and often rich in hormones and antibiotics – so this isn’t a genuine recommendation!
I still recommend drinking plant based milk alternatives and staying away from dairy (read the dangers of dairy here) however there are so many dangerous ingredients in these ‘healthy’ substitutes that you need to look out for! For example, vegetable oils shouldn’t be anywhere near your nut, oat or seed milk drinks. As previously mentioned, they are often from highly processed and/or GMO sources and have been treated with toxic solvents, removing all nutritional benefits and adding a large amount of toxicity – avoid milks with vegetable oils, full stop.
If you just noticed vegetable oils in your nut milk, don’t panic. I used nut milks with vegetable oils for a long-time and made the switch not too long ago when I realised!
On many cartons you will see ‘emulsifer.’ This is often xanthan gum,, but there are plenty out there to avoid. These are thickening agents which are made from fermenting yeast with a sugar source – yes, it already sounds unhealthy – that can cause digestive discomfort and, over an extended period, can cause chronic inflammation, IBS, colitis and other serious health issues.
Many alternative milks have ‘added Vitamin D2’ on the packaging – this is great, right?! Unfortunately, not. The natural vitamin D that we get from the sun is Vitamin D3, which is essential for our immune system and overall health. Vitamin D2 is an isolated, synthetic form of the vitamin, which the body is unable to absorb and, therefore, useless for our health. Some suggest that vitamin D2 even desensitises our vitamin D3 receptors, resulting in vitamin D deficiency in the long run.
The solution? Make your own plant-based milk. It is way easier and way cheaper than you might think! Synergised Nutrition has an amazing Hemp Milk recipe which is packed with Omega-3. If you’re an Almond Milk fan through and through, there is a tasty Sugar-Free Homemade Almond Milk recipe which is made with no oil, additives, gums or sugar. I recently posted a Creamy Macadamia Nut Milk recipe that I’ve been obsessed with as macadamias are packed with monounsaturated fat making them one of the healthiest nuts out there!
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