'Healthy' food swaps that are bad for you
Margarine instead of butter
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of which is healthier – butter or margarine. However, there is no denying that some margarines may be seriously bad for your health. While butter has been shunned by many healthy eaters due to its high levels of saturated fats, margarine has come under scrutiny in recent years due to the high levels of the more dangerous trans fats some contain.
Trans fats are bad news for our health as they raise heart disease risk and, according to research results published in the journal PLoS One, can cause consumers to become aggressive and irritable. Furthermore, margarine contains additives and colourings (which turn the product from a sludgy grey colour to the yellow we know), whereas butter is an all natural food. For a healthier choice, opt for small amounts of butter, trans-fat-free spreads or extra virgin olive oil.
Cereal bars instead of chocolate
Many of us believe that swapping chocolate for a cereal bar is the perfect healthy way to satisfy our sweet cravings. However, most cereal bars are packed with cane sugar and corn syrup, not to mention high levels of fat. In fact, despite their healthy image, cereal bars can contain as much fat, sugar and calories as an average chocolate bar, and can cause crashes in blood sugar levels which will leave you craving more food.
In contrast, chocolate, despite having an unhealthy reputation, is actually good for you in many ways. Some of the health benefits of chocolate include its ability to boost your brain power, increase your energy, fight disease, prevent wrinkles, slow down muscle ageing, boost your mood and even increase your metabolism.
Diet drinks instead of full-sugar fizzy drinks
Lots of us switch to sugar-free versions of our favourite soft drinks to help us stay trim and healthy. However, diet drinks may actually be causing you to pile on the pounds. Research by the Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found that those who consumed diet drinks daily experienced a 70 per cent greater increase in waist circumference than those who drank none, while a previous study showed that obesity risk increased by 41 per cent for each diet drink consumed.
A suggested reason for this is that artificial sweeteners trigger appetite, and they may also inhibit the brain cells that make you feel full. To keep off the pounds and keep your health in good condition, try swapping canned drinks for a small amount of fresh fruit juice diluted with sparkling water.
Fructose (fruit sugar) instead of glucose
Fructose is often thought of as being a healthy sugar, based on the fact that it doesn't raise blood sugar levels directly and also as it is the main sugar found in fruits. However, research suggests that fructose could be even more harmful than glucose. Not only have research studies linked high fructose consumption with kidney and liver problems, research results have also indicated that fructose could be exacerbating the obesity epidemic.
Research results published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that fructose can help to trigger overeating, as after consuming fructose the brain doesn't register feelings of fullness and satiety as it does when we consume glucose. A study in the Journal of Nutrition also found that fructose gets converted to fat more quickly than other sugars.
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