When it comes to eating healthy some things are obvious. Like Pop-Tarts and soda pop belonging on the junk food list, for example. Or that broccoli and olive oil deserve spots on your healthy eating plan.
But for many folks it’s more of a gray area when it comes to a lot of common foods. Is beef good or bad? Is granola the perfect snack food, or not?
We get it, with all the mixed messages out there it sure can be confusing. But don’t worry, we’re here to lend a hand. To help you navigate the grocery store we’ve gathered together a list of seven foods nutritionists refuse to eat.
1. Grain-fed beef:
Not all beef is created equal. Conventional grain-fed beef is a poor choice for a few reasons.
First of all ordinary grain-fed beef is higher in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids than organic, grass-fed varieties. As we’ve explained before, the Western diet is far too high in omega-6s, and far too low in omega-3s. And that imbalance leads to illness and disease.
Then there’s the issue of GMO feed. Chances are grain-fed cattle are eating chemical-soaked crops that were genetically modified to be resistant to certain pesticides. Which means, of course, you are being exposed to those chemicals too.
And then there’s the continuing overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. To combat the illnesses that overcrowding and poor living conditions can cause, healthy cows living on factory farms are often given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick. This, of course, not only potentially exposes you to the drugs, it also contributes to the problem of antibiotic resistance.
Choose organic, grass-fed beef instead.
2. Most grocery store breads:
If you can find it in your grocery store bread aisle, chances are a nutritionists wouldn’t touch it. And yes, that includes the majority of breads labeled whole wheat. (More on this in a moment.)
The refined flours these breads use have been so heavily processed that they hold almost no nutritional value any longer. Plus most store-bought brands of bread are loaded with hidden sugars, chemical stabilizers and preservatives.
Since refined white flours are made from wheat too, bread manufacturers can still label breads that use some of these highly processed flours, “wheat bread.” But true whole wheat bread is made with 100 percent whole wheat grains, and no white flours.
3. Cold cereals:
Since you don’t eat the sugary kids’ cereal with cartoon characters on the box you probably feel you’re making a healthy breakfast choice when you reach for your adult cereal. Sadly, nutritionists say that’s just not the case.
Processed, heavily refined grains, and far too much added sugar make even most so-called “adult” cereals a bad choice. You’ll be starved for nutrients out of the gate, and looking at an energy crash within a few hours.
4. Frozen meals:
Between frozen dinners labeled “organic” and those promising to be healthy choices, lean or “smart,” it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that frozen meals are healthier than they once were. But don’t be hoodwinked, because they’re still on every nutritionist’s no-no list.
Preservatives, over-processing and a ton of added sugar and junk sodium make frozen meals anything but good for you. Even if they technically started with organic ingredients, by the time they get to your dinner table, they’re hardly recognizable as food.
One of the original so-called “health foods,” granola has been coasting on its healthy-snack reputation for decades now. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it healthy.
It’s true that granola can be a decent source of fiber, if it contains plain whole oats (that’s part of what keeps it coasting), but most granola is also swimming in added sugars. Nutritionists say any good you might have gained from the fiber content in granola is reversed by those boatloads of inflammatory sugars.
And although the mix you choose may contain healthy nuts, granola often has far too much fat for a single serving. It’s better to snack on a fistful of plain nuts so you can monitor how much you’re getting.
6. Reduced fat foods:
From yogurt to peanut butter and from cookies to salad dressings, nutritionists warn reduced fat and fat-free products are dietary quagmires.
The biggest issue with these highly processed foods is what manufacturers put into them to make them palatable. When they suck the fat out the flavor goes right along with it, so they dump in a ton of processed sugars and junk salts so that we can stomach them.
And then there’s that myth that caused these products to be made in the first place. Fat isn’t the demon we were once taught it was. In most cases natural fats will not significantly raise your blood cholesterol levels, and they will not make YOU fat either. If a food isn’t naturally low in fat, like fruit, don’t turn to a reduced fat version. Simply eat a reasonable sized portion of the full-fat version instead.
Like granola, pretzels have somehow managed to keep themselves on the “healthy” snack list for years. The only trouble is they’re really not healthy at all, say nutritionists.
In fact, pretzels are really little more than refined white flour, which has zero nutritional value. When the salty, crunchy cravings hit, stick to a handful of nuts or make some baked sweet potato chips or our Kicky Roasted Chickpeas instead.
You’re making great strides living a healthier life. Don’t sabotage your efforts by eating foods no nutritionist would even allow through the front door.