‘Healthy’ Food Swaps That Are Bad For You

Some foods are plainly just bad for you, but what about those foods that are supposedly good for you but may turn out not to be? Check out these food swaps which may inadvertently be harmful to your health.

An image of ‘Healthy’ Food Swaps That Are Bad For You

Margarine instead of butter

Butter or margarine, which is the healthier option? For some time now people have been moving away from butter due to its high saturated fat content, and replacing it with margarine. However, it is margarine that has come under the microscope in more recent years due to the harmful trans fats that some contain.

What isn’t in dispute is the fact that industrially produced trans fats are bad for you. They raise your bad cholesterol levels and increase your heart disease risk, and many food manufacturers have been reducing their use. Typically found in margarine, which also contains harmful additives and colourings, whereas butter is considered a natural food. For a healthier option, use smaller amounts of butter, or choose trans-fat-free spreads or extra virgin olive oil.

Cereal bars instead of chocolate

Having a cereal bar instead of chocolate, that’s got to be a healthier option surely? Well, not exactly. It seems that satisfying your cravings with a snack in the form of a cereal bar isn’t the healthiest option by any means. The majority of cereal bars are fat-laden, sugary, syrup-filled bars which can contain as many calories as your typical chocolate bar. Add to this the fact that they cause temporary spikes in blood-sugar level, quickly followed by a drop and more craving, and you soon get the impression that they are not the best sugar swap option.

Chocolate, on the other hand, can actually actually have some positive health benefits. Try munching on some chocolate, especially dark chocolate, if you want boost memory, energy levels, disease-fighting ability, your mood, as well as countering some of the effects of getting older such as wrinkles and muscle ageing.

Diet drinks instead of full-sugar fizzy drinks

Switching to sugar-free soft drinks in order to help control your weight has to be a winner doesn’t it? Seemingly not, as diet drinks might just be the very thing responsible for triggering appetite which then makes you go and eat more than you otherwise would have done. Not much of a healthy swap for weight loss then.

Researchers at the Texas Health Science Center looked at a number of people who drank diet drinks each day and found that 70 per cent greater experienced an increase in their waist size than than those who had no diet drinks. The suggestion for the increased propensity for putting on weight is that artificial sweeteners in diet drinks can prompt appetite and also inhibit your ability to actually feel full. As an alternative healthy drink option, go for fresh fruit juice mixed with sparkling water.

Fructose (fruit sugar) instead of glucose

As a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit, you could be forgiven for thinking that fructose is a healthy sugar. True, it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels directly but research has shown that fructose could actually be more harmful than glucose. Studies have identified a link between high levels of fructose consumption with kidney and liver problems, as well as suggesting a link between fructose and growing obesity problems.

Findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that fructose consumption can lead to overeating, as the brain is inhibited from registering feelings of fullness and being satisfied as it does when consuming glucose. A separate study in the Journal of Nutrition identified fructose as being easily converted to fat quicker than other sugars, so clearly not ideal as sugar swap option.