HomeHealthFoods that aren’t as healthy as you think

Foods that aren’t as healthy as you think

Ever since marketing got a hold on the food industry, many of the foods we think are healthy quite often are not.

Sometimes it’s a case of a food becoming trendy before the science catches up with it, in some cases packaging and marketing can be misleading. For example, fruit juice is good for you because it comes from fruit. But when it’s sold with preservatives and plenty of added sugar, not so good for you.

Here are some serial offenders.

Toasted muesli

Toasted muesli is delicious, and it gets that way because it’s covered in sugar. Processors get that crunchy mouthfeel by coating everything in either sugar or a sweet syrup and then cooking it. Muesli bars are often in the same hall of shame. If you are going to eat muesli, only eat the raw stuff.

Read: Unhealthy foods can cancel cognitive benefits of a healthy diet


This ubiquitous drink is promoted as having the ability to improve gut health, but the science is still largely unclear. Some brands have a high sugar content so always check the label. And alcoholic kombucha seems like the beverage equivalent of an oxymoron.


It’s a close relative of kombucha in that it is marketed as promoting gut health. There is plenty of evidence plain yoghurt is good for you, but the variety of products on the market with added colouring, flavours and sugar means some yoghurts have the same nutritional value as ice cream.

Low-fat salad dressings

Take out the fat, and commercial salad dressings have to make up the flavour somewhere, and it’s usually with sugar or salt. Once again, check the label, or make your own – you probably have the ingredients in your kitchen.

Read: New study indicates vegetarians have a lower cancer risk

Vegie chips

We’ve been kidding ourselves with this one. How are potato chips deep fried in oil bad for you, but sweet potato chips are not? A lot of people are in denial and it shows in the proliferation of vegie chips on supermarket shelves. A subset of this is baked chips. Somehow chips baked in oil are supposed to be considerably better for you than chips cooked in oil.

Banana bread

It looks like cake, it tastes like cake, it is cake. Calling it ‘bread’ in no way makes it bread or healthy because it includes fruit. Just eat the banana. You can comfortably add muffins to this category.

Rice cakes

Rice cakes on their own are actually good for you, but let’s face it the toppings you need to make them in any way tasty are not. Lashings of butter and a tasty spread cancel out any nutritional benefits.

Read: How to make your comfort foods healthy

Coconut oil

This product hit a popular peak a few years ago. Coconut was going to save the world, you can put it on your hair, your body, your teeth, cook with it, even make an insect repellent. All of those things might be possible, but what’s definitely true is that coconut oil is high in saturated fat. Instead try to use canola, peanut or sunflower oil, which all have less saturated fat.

Meat substitutes

There is plenty of health advice out there that we should be eating less meat, but some of the commercial meat substitute products contain an astonishing number of additives including salt and fat. Replacing meat with nuts, legumes and other plants is good, replacing it with highly processed burgers or sausages is not so good.

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Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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