Ever go to the store to find yourself overwhelmed in a sea of labels that make claims promoting some sort of health attribute? Heart health, weight loss, improved digestion are buzz words we all latch onto because that’s what we’re looking for. Many of us need a healthier heart, need to lose weight and need better digestion. Some foods are ok and can actually help, but they’re usually of the whole food variety. Below are a few foods that sound healthy, but really aren’t.
1. Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop
This microwave popcorn contains Tertiary Butylhydroquinone or TBHQ, a petroleum-derived form of butane. It’s added to a lot of packaged foods, including crackers, cookies and microwave popcorn. The purpose of this ingredient is to keep it shelf stable and prevent rancidity. The FDA allows .02% in every serving. While it may take significantly more to be toxic, some people are sensitive to this additive. As if TBHQ isn’t reason enough to stay away from this food, the bag lining of this microwave popcorn (and all microwave popcorns) contains a chemical compound called perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. PFOA is used to make Teflon and other products that are stick-resistant. Present in the blood of 95% of Americans, this chemical is leached into the popcorn via the bag. After it’s in our system, it’s there to stay. Linked to infertility and cancer, PFOA is simply an unhealthy chemical.
Instead, go buy an air popper and make a big bowl of popcorn. Drizzle the popcorn with some good olive oil or even coconut oil (my favorite). Add a little sea salt and you’ve got a healthy snack.
2. Skinny Cow Heavenly Crisp Peanut Butter Candy Bars
The most attractive thing about these bars is that they contain 110 calories. But they also contain six grams of unhealthy fat (that’s nearly 50% of the calories). The rest of the calories are almost entirely sugar. What’s more, these bars contain trans fats. NO AMOUNT of trans fats is even remotely acceptable to eat. Why it’s allowed in foods is bewildering to me. If you want a healthy heart, don’t eat foods that contain trans fat (stated as ‘partially hydrogenated’ on the label.
Instead, go buy a really good dark chocolate bar and a jar of nut butter. Break off a square of dark chocolate and spoon on a little bit of nut butter. You’ll be getting your calories from healthier sources that have a much better chance of helping your body rather than hurting it. And in my humble opinion, a really good dark chocolate with a little bit of good almond nut butter tastes a lot better, too!
3. Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bars Honey Almond Flax All Natural
Flax seeds are hot these days! And Kashi is one of many companies who are capitalizing on it! Flax seeds are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, something most of us need desperately. Here’s the thing, while flax seeds are good, they are not digestible in their whole form. They need to be freshly ground to get the benefit. If they’re not ground or in oil form, they do nothing, nothing at all. What’s more, when flax seeds are exposed to heat, air or light, they oxidize very quickly. We can’t really taste when a nut or oil oxidizes, but our body knows the difference. Nuts and oils that oxidize go rancid. When they’re rancid, they release free radicals. Those free radicals damage our body much in the same way rust damages a car. To make matters worse, the third ingredient in this bar is sugar. Sorry, Kashi. Your bars are nothing more than a glorified candy bar.
Instead, make your own healthy trail mix. Combine raw nuts, dark chocolate, coconut flakes or any other ingredients that taste good to you. Check out my healthy trail mix suggestions here. Alternatively, if you need to buy a bar, shoot for a LARA bar or a MARK Bar made by my friend, fitness pro and certified chef, Mark Beier.
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Want more tips like this? Traci D Mitchell is a healthy living and fitness expert. Follow Traci on Facebook. She’d love to see you there! Interested in working with Traci? She works privately with clients specializes in nutrition coaching and weight loss as well as functional fitness and personal training. All sessions are done via Skype or telephone if outside of Chicago. For more information, contact Traci here.