Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
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It goes without saying that diet is fuel the body. Not only does eating a healthy diet keep the body and mind sharp, it also wards off the threat of a range of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. However, what exactly constitutes “healthy” is not always straightforward. In fact, many of the ostensibly healthy items are not at all. According to Rob Hobson, Head of Nutrition at Healthspan, there are 10 foods that often deceive even the most discerning shopper.
Mr Hobson explains: “This food is inherently healthy and contributes to your daily fruit and vegetable intake while also being a good source of antioxidant compounds such as lycopene.”
However, “they do contain a lot more sugar than you might expect at nearly 8g per half can which is almost a third of your recommended intake,” he warned.
High bran breakfast cereal
“It’s no secret that breakfast cereals can be high in sugar but many people don’t expect their high-fibre ‘healthy’ options to fall into the same category,” noted Mr Hobson.
However, as he explained, these options can be just as high in sugar with some containing 8g per 40g serving.
“The same is true here of instant oat pots and especially those with fruit flavours.”
According to Mr Hobson, there is a lot of confusion about oils and this one has been popular in the world of wellness for a while now.
“Many of the health claims used to promote this oil do have not enough reliable science to back them and it’s not a healthier option than olive oil.”
As Mr Hobson pointed out, coconut oil has a very high saturated fat content compared to oils such as olive which are rich in monounsaturated fats; the ones that help to keep your heart healthy.
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“These offer two servings of your five a day which is great but they still contain a lot of sugar so need you need to understand that a recommended serving is just 150ml not the 500ml that many of them come packaged in,” advises Mr Hobson.
“You also have to check the label as many of the fruit smoothies on the market are made from purees and juices and not whole fruits.”
Mr Hobson said: “There are lots of healthy options on the market to help people rustle up a quick meal but even if you choose one that appears to be healthy you should still check the label.”
He continued: Many of these sauces contain large amounts of sugar and salt. Also, worth considering that often we tend to eat more than the recommended serving size for these foods which means more salt and sugar per sitting.”
Coconut milk yoghurt
Like coconut oil, this has also become staple, especially as many people are also turning to a plant-based diet, noted Mr Hobson.
“Coconut milk yoghurt tends to be marketed as a healthy option but a serving of 150g contains nearly 300 calories and this can easily notch up to 500 when add a bit of granola and fruit. This yoghurt option is also high in sat fat at 24g per 150g serving.”
According to Mr Hobson, this natural product often has people thinking it is in some way healthier than sugar but the fact is that all sweeteners contain sugar.
It’s not all bad. As Mr Hobson noted, honey does come in many different varieties, and it is a very natural product, but you still need to watch how much of it you choose to use.
“This is a classic healthy snack amongst those trying to watch their weight but you must read the label or you could be in for a nasty surprise,” warned Mr Hobson.
As he pointed out, it’s pretty obvious that sweet varieties are not going to be the healthiest option but even those that seem natural can contain as much as 500 calories per bag and 3g of salt so definitely not a “free” food as some people make it out to be.
Vegan meat substitutes
The term “vegan” has become associated with all things healthy but it’s not a health claim, it’s a type of diet, Mr Hobson said.
What’s more, “the rise in veganism has led to an influx of junk food, processed meals and meat substitutes which include everything from bacon and burgers to chicken nuggets”.
Mr Hobson added: “There is nothing particularly healthy about these foods and other than the fact they do not contain meat they are often still high in calories, salt and sat fat.”
The term “high in protein” attracts many people interested in their health as they associate protein with good health.
Mr Hobson was quick to burst this bubble: “While these bars may be high in protein they are often laden with sugar. Some are made with sweeteners but often the ones used (polyols such as maltitol) can have a laxative effect if eaten in excess.”
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