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