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How healthy is your healthy?

Think you’re on the right track? This week, we ask how healthy is your healthy?

Trawl down the supermarket aisles and we wouldn’t blame you for feeling utterly confused. Gluten-free, no sugar, low calorie, reduced fat – with more and more choice available for consumers, we’re often seduced by so-called nutritious foods. But if you’re looking to be healthier, knowing how to decipher the ingredient lists found on pre-packaged foods is the first step to a smarter diet. To help you we’ve revealed the biggest nutrition pretenders along with our preferred healthier options.

1 Sugar-free yoghurt

Sugar-free flavoured yoghurt sounds like a sensible option when you’re looking to scale back on added sugars, but the case against the sweet stuff is stronger than ever. Most flavoured yoghurts are laced with unhealthy processed sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup which our bodies are unable to metabolise.

Our healthy swap: Plain yoghurt

There’s a big difference between a plain yoghurt and one that’s flavoured. Plain yoghurt is a source of probiotics – bacteria which are good for gut health – and it’s also free from health-harming sugar and sweeteners. If you can’t stomach the tart taste, stir in a few frozen blueberries or a couple of freshly chopped strawberries for a naturally sweeter taste, minus any nasties.

2 Margarine

It’s touted as a low-fat alternative to butter, but margarine is made from trans-fat laden vegetable oils which are synthetic and badly processed by our bodies.

Our healthy swap: Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a stable, saturated fat that doesn’t change structure at high heat. It can be used in both baked goods and regular cooking, making it a far superior alternative to margarine. Furthermore, coconut oil contains anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties making it excellent for topical use too. We love it!

3 Skimmed milk

We’ve been conned into believing that low-fat milk is better for us then full fat and, if you’re looking to lose weight, it seems like the obvious choice, but you could be making a big mistake if you’re ditching the fatty stuff. When the fat is taken out, some of the enzymes that help us digest lactose are also taken out which can result in problems such as gas and bloating.

Our healthy swap: Full-fat milk

The fatty acids in full-fat milk actually help you to feel fuller, faster – and for longer – meaning you’ll consume fewer calories overall. A glass of the full-fat stuff is also more easily digested thanks to its enzyme profile.

4 Granola

Granola is often considered a healthy breakfast choice, but it’s usually packed with lots of added sugar, a high intake of which has been linked to conditions such as diabetes type two and heart disease.

Our healthy swap: Porridge

A bowl of porridge is a good source of fibre which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Top with chopped nuts for extra protein and a handful of berries to naturally sweeten without the sugar rush.

5 Gluten-free bread

Unless you have a legitimate health reason to avoid gluten, you could be doing more harm to your diet than good. Most of us assume gluten-free foods are healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts, but some gluten-free products like breads contain inflammatory additives for a more palatable taste and texture – and unfortunately these are bad for our health.

Our healthy swap: Homemade gluten-free bread

If you’re worried about the additives in conventional gluten-free bread, make your own version so you know exactly what’s going into your body. We recommend this healthy recipe from Jamie Oliver which is made from gluten-free brown bread flour.