Saturday 26 May 2018

These six 'health' foods aren't as good for you as they seem

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Denise Smith

Coconut oil is the latest so-called ‘health’ food to be debunked by experts.

It turns out that cooking oil-alternative may not actually be better for you than beef dripping. The problem is that the oil’s high saturated fat content, 87 grams per 100g, is linked to cardiovascular disease.

The American Heart Association believes that coconut oil promotes bad cholesterol and is on a par with other saturated fats like butter and beef fat.

That means it joins an increasingly long list of so-called health foods that need to come with a minor warning…

Dried fruit

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. Many parents think they’re a good option because they’re packed with vitamins, but the sugar content completely counteracts the health benefits achieved by the vitamins, so be warned.

Orange juice

A glass of OJ may count as one of your five-a-day, 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 Department of Health recommends 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.


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, some nutritionists warn that this only occurs in small amounts, so shouldn’t be thought of as a healthy choice.

You should also know that 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.

Veggie burgers

Despite the name, many veggie burgers found in supermarkets contain very few vegetables – and sometimes 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 evels of a cyanide and a 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?

Whole wheat bread

Whole wheat bread has been touted as the healthy alternative to sliced white bread. In general, any brown carb is better than white – such as in 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 1960s, 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.


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