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Your heart isn't one of the most important organs of your body, just like that. But it is nowadays, in constant danger with the rampant growth of heart disease, a leading cause of deaths around the world. Apart from your lifestyle choices, what you consume on a regular basis has a huge impact on the health of your heart. Unhealthy foods are the main reason the world is fatter and sicker than ever before. Surprisingly, some of these foods are considered healthy by many people.
Here are 6 health foods that are really junk foods in disguise:
- Processed 'Low-Fat' and 'Fat-Free' Foods: The 'war' on saturated fats is the biggest mistake in the history of nutrition. It was based on weak evidence, which has now been completely debunked. When this started, processed food manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon and started removing the fat from foods. But there is a huge problem, food tastes horrible when the fat has been removed. That's why they added a whole bunch of sugar to compensate. Saturated fat is harmless, but added sugar is incredibly harmful when consumed in excess. The words 'low-fat' or 'fat-free' on a packaging usually mean that it is a highly processed product that is loaded with sugar.
- Fruit Juices, Which are Basically Just Liquid Sugar: A lot of people believe fruit juices to be healthy. They must be, because they come from fruit, right? But a lot of the fruit juices you find in the supermarket isn't really fruit juice. Sometimes, there isn't even any actual fruit in there, just chemicals that taste like fruit. What you are drinking is basically just fruit flavoured sugar water. That being said, even if you are drinking 100% quality fruit juice, it is still a bad idea. Fruit juice is like fruit, except with all the good stuff (like the fibre) taken out, the main thing left of the actual fruit is the sugar. If you didn't know, fruit juice actually contains a similar amount of sugar as a sugar sweetened beverage.
- Heart Healthy & Whole Wheat: Most whole wheat products are not really made from whole wheat. The grains have been pulverized into very fine flour, making them raise blood sugar just as fast as their refined counterparts. In fact, whole wheat bread can have a similar glycemic index as white bread. But even true whole wheat may be a bad idea, because modern wheat is unhealthy as compared to the wheat our grandparents ate. There are studies showing that modern wheat may cause inflammation and increased cholesterol levels, at least when compared to the older varieties. Whereas, wheat may have been a relatively healthy grain back in the day, the stuff most people are eating today is best avoided.
- Margarine: Butter was demonized back in the day, due to the high saturated fat content. Various health experts started promoting margarine instead. Back in the day, margarine used to be high in trans fats. These days, it has less trans fats than before, but is still loaded with refined vegetable oils. Margarine is not a food, it is an assembly of chemicals and refined oils that have been made to look and taste like food. If you want to improve your health, eat real butter, but avoid processed margarine and other fake foods like the plague.
- Vegetable Oils: We are often advised to eat seed and vegetable oils. This includes Soybean oil, Canola oil and numerous others. This is based on the fact that these oils have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, at least in the short term. However, it is important to keep in mind that blood cholesterol is a risk factor and not a disease in itself. Even though vegetable oils can improve a risk factor, there is no guarantee that they will help prevent actual hard endpoints like heart attacks or death, which is what really counts. In fact, several controlled trials have shown that despite lowering cholesterol, these oils can increase the risk of death from both heart disease and cancer. So eat healthy, natural fats like ghee, cold pressed coconut oil, cold pressed sesame oil, cold pressed mustard oil and olive oil, but avoid processed vegetable oils as if your life depended on it (it does).
- Most Processed Breakfast Cereals: The way some breakfast cereals are marketed, is a disgrace. Many of them, including those that are marketed towards children, have all sorts of health claims plastered on the box. This includes misleading things like 'whole grain' or 'low fat'. But when you actually look at the ingredients list, you see that it is almost nothing, but refined grains, sugar and artificial chemicals. The truth is, if the packaging of a food says that it is healthy, then it probably is not. The truly healthy foods are those that do not need any health claims like whole, single ingredient foods. Real food doesn't even need an ingredient list, because real food is the ingredient.