While some self-proclaimed health experts claim certain foods are “healthy”, qualified dietitians don’t necessarily agree. Look out for these.

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This article originally appeared on news.com.au, published here with permission.

Generally speaking, when something seems too good to be true, it usually is, even in the case of the foods we are told are ‘healthy’ choices. While some self-proclaimed health experts and bloggers may claim these foods are healthy, qualified dietitians may not agree. Here are a few foods you may think are healthy – although the science tells us otherwise.

Rice malt syrup

Often considered ‘much’ better than sugar, the truth is that rice malt syrup is a refined sugar that is produced by cooking rice flour or starch with enzymes and with a GI of 98 (white bread = 100), means that its supremacy as a healthier alternative to table sugar is highly questionable. The sugar mix of rice malt syrup is 3 per cent glucose, 45 per cent maltose and maltotriose 52 per cent so while it may be fructose free, it does not mean calorie free so not only is it misleading to claim it is free of sugar, but it will contribute to an excessive calorie intake when over consumed just as regular sugar will.

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Coconut water

While coconut water, especially when served in a real coconut parades as the ultimate health drink for hydration, with 18g of sugars, or almost 4 teaspoons per 250ml serve it is still a high sugar choice of fluid. Touted as beneficial for hydration thanks to its naturally high potassium content, unless you were an elite athlete burning a significant number of calories each day, water is still going to be a much better choice for hydration. Often added to smoothies or enjoyed after a workout, in most cases the regular consumption of coconut water will simply be adding extra sugar to the diet few of us need.

Almond milk

Popular on paleo regimes and for those who which to avoid animal milks, unsweetened almond milk contains few calories per serve and literally no sugars. The key thing to consider before you make the swap to a nut based milk for any reason other than food allergy or intolerance is that these milks are generally low in almond content with the most common brands containing as little as 2 per cent resulting in a ‘milk’ that is low in protein and calcium. The other issue is that almond milk often contains added sugars and / or oils to improve its taste and texture which really just makes it sugary water.

Instant noodles

Noodles are one of many foods considered a relatively plain and as such healthy food but with a massive 20+ grams of fat, 60+ grams of processed carbs and almost your entire upper daily intake of salt in a single bowl, your little packet of noodles is anything but healthy. Add to that some MSG, a variety of other additives and poor quality oil and you may be getting the gist of why this one is not on the dietitian’s most popular foods list.

Breakfast biscuits

While some European cultures enjoy a light breakfast of coffee and a few sweet biscuits, it is then a big jump to claim that they are a ‘healthy’ breakfast choice. With just 4g of protein, plenty of carbs, up to 10g of sugars and just 3g of fibre, there are many, many other more nutritious breakfast options than a sweet packet of biscuits. The other nutritional issue that comes from choosing a sweet breakfast option, especially one that does not contain a lot of protein or fibre is that they may leave you feeling unsatisfied and more likely to snack through the morning compared to a protein rich breakfast of eggs or Greek yoghurt and a little cereal. So keep these breakfast biscuits in the biscuit section if you can.

Diet soft drink

While diet soft drink is a better option than the regular full strength stuff, this is not to say that ‘diet’ soft drinks are a healthy choice. Diet soft drinks may not contain sugar, instead sweetened with various types of artificial sweetener, but there is a growing body of evidence to show that consuming extremely sweet substances may promote overeating long term. There have also been some recent concerns over the various preservatives used in diet soft drinks, the interaction they have with artificial sweeteners and the effect this interaction has on various functions within the body’s cells. Given these concerns, while an occasional diet drink is unlikely to do any harm, diet soft drink should never be considered a ‘healthy’ choice.

Bliss balls

Whether they are marketed as low in sugar, paleo or low carb, in more cases than not ‘low sugar’ baking does tend to contain sugar whether this is via dates, brown rice malt syrup or dextrose, or the treats are exceptionally high in fat and calories courtesy of nut spreads, coconut oil, almond meal or coconut. A cake is still cake even though someone says it is low in sugar or carbs. So before you dive into the homemade cakes and bliss balls take a closer look at the ingredients. Chances are there is some sort of sugar or fat used as a base to make the food, which really does not make it all that healthy after all.

November 22, 20168:22am

nutrition | body+soul

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