Walking the aisles of the modern supermarket it is obvious to see that the demand from the consumer for healthier options is working. Fruit and vegetables have always held a centrepiece in the supermarket to welcome you into a seemingly fresh and healthy environment and in the past it has generally been clear which aisles contain the unhealthy food (confectionery aisle, anyone?!). What I aim to do in this article is point out that some of the foods you are choosing that is advertised as healthy, light, low fat or energy boosting is in fact not that healthy at all. Here is a sample of some such products.
There are 2 major reasons that no normal person needs to consume sports drinks. The first is to do with your dental health. Most sports drinks are highly acidic and can cause tremendous damage to your teech. The timing of the drinks is also critical. Drinking a sports drink whilst you are dehydrated will not allow for your salivary glands to clear the beverage from your mouth quickly giving the acid time to take it’s toll on your tooth’s enamel. The second reason is the sugar and sodium content. Unless you are a highly trained endurance athlete completing 2-3 hours of training daily there is really no need to be replacing such high amounts of sugar and salt. At best you are putting more of these nutrients in than your body requires. At worst, you are undoing all of your hard training with sugar calories you don’t need, salt that will potentially affect your muscle function and blood pressure and building an unhealthy habit for life.
High in calcium, good for your bones, teeth and a little bit of protein – you can’t go wrong, right?? WRONG. Unfortunately cheese is given a far healthier wrap than it deserves. It perhaps has a little bit to do with the fact that it is considered a natural product (however, the cheese you buy at your local supermarket is a long way from traditional cheese) and a lot to do with great marketing (light, lite, lyte?, any other tricks?). The trouble with cheese is that to get the calcium and some protein you have to eat a product that is, generally speaking, 30% fat or more. A good portion of that fat is also saturated fat (bad fat). A low fat product is generally considered to be less than 3% fat. There are just too many other low fat options to get your calcium: milk, yoghurt and many vegetables (bok choy is my favourite) for a start. The other trouble with cheese is the sheer abundance of it in our diets. It is added to breads, biscuits, in meat products, as part of platters, on sandwiches, in salads, with pastas and this is without mentioning the BIG cheese products like pizzas and lasagnes.
Whilst these types of foods now have their own section in the supermarket and sometimes their own aisle, I have to say that some of them truly only belong in the confectionery aisle. It is very difficult with these products to search for an option that is truly healthy. My suggestion is to run a cross-check of the nutritional information before you make a purchase. Firstly, check the ‘per 100g’ section of the nutrtional table for it’s fat, carbohydrate/sugar, protein and sodium content. Then cross-check this with the ingredients list. If it is a little high in fat then look for a high nut content. If it is high in sugar, check the fruit or honey content. If it is low in protein, then question where the bulk is coming from (maybe high in fibre) to make the food filling and satisfying, otherwise you will just eat more than one! If it is high in sodium there really is no excuse. Look for another option.