Not so squeaky clean? The sur­pris­ing dan­gers in ‘ healthy’ food

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HEALTH - By SAF­FRON ALEXAN­DER

Think veg­etable crisps might be a health­ier al­ter­na­tive to potato chips? Think again, says a re­cent study which has high­lighted the high fat and salt con­tent of veg­etable crisps.

The re­search, car­ried out by nu­tri­tion­ist Char­lotte Stir­ling-Reed, shows that pack­ets of the pop­u­lar snack con­sist of up to a third salt and oil.

It’s not the only food that might be mis­lead­ing you. Co­conut oil has long been her­alded as a health­ier al­ter­na­tive to other cook­ing oils by clean eat­ing gu­rus. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to new ad­vice from ex­perts, it’s as bad for you as beef drip­ping.

The prob­lem is the oil’s high sat­u­rated fat con­tent — 87 grams per 100g — which is linked to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. In a re­view pub­lished in the jour­nal Cir­cu­la­tion, the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion wrote: “Tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the to­tal­ity of the sci­en­tific ev­i­dence, sat­is­fy­ing rig­or­ous cri­te­ria for causal­ity, we con­clude strongly that low­er­ing in­take of sat­u­rated fat and re­plac­ing it with un­sat­u­rated fats, es­pe­cially polyun­sat­u­rated fats, will lower the in­ci­dence of CVD.”

They found that stick­ing to a diet low in sat­u­rated fats could po­ten­tially pre­vent up to 5.2 mil­lion deaths from stroke, heart dis­ease and other car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems world­wide each year.

Not good news for co­conut oil, then, which the AHA says pro­motes bad choles­terol and is on par with other sat­u­rated fats like but­ter and beef fat.

Still, it’s not the only sup­pos­edly ‘good for you’ food that may not be so good for you af­ter all ...

Though not mar­keted as a clean liv­ing op­tion, veg­etable crisps are seen by many as a healthy al­ter­na­tive to their potato cousins, be­cause, well, they are made of veg­eta­bles.

How­ever, Char­lotte Stir­lingReed’s re­search (com­mis­sioned by Wren Kitchens as part of its Be­hind the La­bel study) has shown that some va­ri­eties of veg­etable crisps con­tain higher lev­els of salt and sat­u­rated fat than reg­u­lar crisp brands, such as Pringles, and more fat than a Mars bar or a Krispy Kreme Orig­i­nal Glazed Dough­nut.

“The con­cern with prod­ucts of­ten seen as ‘health­ier al­ter­na­tives’, such as veg­etable crisps, is they don’t al­ways match up to their rep­u­ta­tions. Crisps are crisps, and even if they are made with veg­eta­bles, they are likely to con­tain too much in the way of fat, sat­u­rated fat, and salt”, says Ms Stir­ling-Reed.

1 Veg­etable Crisps:

A 2015 study on so-called healthy snack al­ter­na­tives mar­keted to­wards chil­dren found that packs of raisins can con­tain the equiv­a­lent of more than four tea­spoons of sugar.

Den­tists have also spo­ken up about raisins be­ing one of the lead­ing causes of tooth de­cay in small chil­dren. Speak­ing to the Mir­ror, den­tist Saara Sabir said: “Raisins and dried fruit are a big prob­lem. Many par­ents think they’re a good op­tion be­cause they’re packed with vi­ta­mins.”

2 Dried fruit:

A glass of OJ may count as one of your five-aday, but re­search sug­gests it’s not as healthy as you may think.

One 250g glass of or­ange juice is es­ti­mated to con­tain up to 21g of sugar. (The NHS cur­rently rec­om­mend peo­ple aged 11 and over con­sume just 30g of sugar a day.) It’s also be­lieved that juice in gen­eral is as­sim­i­lated by the body faster than whole fruit, which means it cre­ates a big­ger spike in your blood sugar lev­els and is more likely to be con­verted to fat.

3 4 Or­ange juice:

Honey: Thought honey is a healthy al­ter­na­tive to sugar? A 2015 study sug­gests you may need to think again. A team of nutri­tion­ists said that honey has the same ef­fect on the body as white sugar and high fruc­tose corn syrup, a cheap and widely-used sweet­ener.

On a more pos­i­tive note, honey con­tains nu­tri­ents that do not ex­ist in ta­ble sugar, such as vi­ta­min B. How­ever, nu­tri­tion­ist Sara Stan­ner warned that this only oc­curs in very small amounts, so shouldn’t be thought of as a ‘healthy’ choice.

She also high­lighted the num­ber of calo­ries found in honey: “A tea­spoon of honey con­tains 23 calo­ries and 6g of sugar, com­pared with a level tea­spoon of sugar, which con­tains 16 calo­ries and 4g of sugar — al­though honey is sweeter so you need to add less to get a sweet taste.

“A lit­tle bit of honey won’t do you any harm, but you should re­mem­ber it pro­vides added sugar and calo­ries to your diet.”

Though it has been touted as a healthy break­fast al­ter­na­tive, ex­perts have re­cently sug­gested that gra­nola might be as bad for you as an av­er­age bowl of ce­real.

Shop bought sugar, and even many home­made ver­sions, typ­i­cally con­tain enough sugar that it could tech­ni­cally be con­sid­ered a dessert. Tesco’s Su­per Berry Gra­nola con­tains more sugar (10.3g) than Tesco’s Bel­gian Choco­late Eclairs (7.6g).

Speak­ing to the New York Times, di­eti­tian Cassie Bjork said: “When I think of gra­nola, I think of piles of sugar. It’s ad­ver­tised as a healthy choice. But the re­al­ity is that it’s usu­ally not.”

5 6 Gra­nola:

De­spite the name, many veg­gie burg­ers found in su­per­mar­kets con­tain very few veg­eta­bles — of­ten none. In­stead they are made from pro­cessed soy or a “tex­tured veg­etable pro­tein” and con­tain fillers such as yeast ex­tract and corn­starch to cre­ate a burger-like tex­ture. These in­gre­di­ents can have lit­tle to no

Veg­gie burg­ers:

real nu­tri­tional value.

Ev­ery­one is aware of the old adage ‘an ap­ple a day keeps the doc­tor away’ but it turns out the same isn’t true for the den­tist.

Ap­ples con­tain high lev­els of a cyanide and sugar based com­pound called amyg­dalin in their seeds. In small doses the com­pound isn’t harm­ful, but when eaten enough it can be­gin to af­fect your teeth and cause ero­sion.

Then again, who eats the pips any­way?

7 8 Ap­ples:

Whole wheat bread has been touted as the healthy al­ter­na­tive to sliced white bread. In gen­eral, any brown carb is bet­ter than white — like pasta and rice — be­cause it takes longer to re­lease its en­ergy into your blood stream, help­ing to pre­vent that same spike of sugar you get with fruit juices.

How­ever, whole wheat might not be so won­der­ful, thanks to the ac­tions of sci­en­tists back in the 60s, who al­tered genes in wheat in an at­tempt to in­crease the yield, mak­ing mod­ern wheat less nu­tri­tious than pre­vi­ously.

Stud­ies have also shown that eat­ing wheat could lead to in­flam­ma­tion and in­creased choles­terol.

Whole wheat bread:


A new ex­pert ad­vice sug­gests co­conut oil isn’t as healthy as we’ve been led to be­lieve.

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