Part 2: Are These "Healthy Products" Really Healthy?

James Colquhoun JAMES COLQUHOUN

Continuing our debunking of ‘health food’, we asked our community for feedback around products you were curious about and whether they were fads, fiction or fruitful to our health. From gluten-free flours, kids snacks to coconut waters, if you listed it, we looked at it! Let’s get started. 

If you missed Part 1, you can catch up here. 

1. Protein Breakfast Bars

We’ve all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which is why it’s important to start with a healthy and nutritious meal. For some of us, that's not always a possibility with our busy lives leaving us to look to grab-and-go alternatives, including breakfast bars. So what's the verdict? While they might be a healthier alternative for someone who might be otherwise reaching out for a doughnut, many of the products on the market are packed full of sugar and dressed up with a little protein powder. Check the label and look for bars that contain simple ingredients, natural ingredients.

2. Salad Dressings 

No one likes a sad salad, and spicing up your leafy greens seems simple with store-bought dressings ready to pour. However, many of these products are disguising high amounts of saturated fat, calories, sodium, and added sugar.  The standard serving size for salad dressing is 2 tablespoons, which can contain huge amounts of unhealthy ingredients. It’s important to keep a lid on your sodium and saturated fat intake, as it could result in driving up your cholesterol and lead to blockages in arteries. The verdict, watch out for store-bought dressings, or why not try making your own? Check out our homemade healthy salad dressing recipes here

3. Low-Fat Fiction

It used to be that low-fat or no-fat products we’re the sure-fire solution to keeping off the curves. Unfortunately, this misguided information was coined (literally) by marketing companies who enticed consumers, with their percentages and slogans, to purchase a new range of healthy alternatives. What many didn’t realize was that these low fat processed foods replaced the animal fats with unsaturated vegetable oils, and those oils have to be altered to keep a solid or semi-solid structure. These man-made hydrogenated fats increase levels of dangerous trans-fats which are both bad for the heart and cholesterol. If that wasn’t enough, sometime fat-free is also taste-free! Our solution, eat real, whole food and read the label. If it’s too good to be true, it generally is.

4. Gluten-Free Baked Goods and Flours 

Gluten-free diets were designed for people suffering from a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten. Now, many people without this condition are 'going gluten-free' because they believe it is a healthful option and many more processed products are popping up in stores and cafes with the ‘gluten-free’ tag. What many ‘gluten-free’ dieters don’t realize, is that many GF products, specifically baked goods, are substituted by refined grains and stabilizers, potentially leaving you with a loaf of harmful chemicals. Most gluten-free baked goods are also full of sugar; remember, just because it’s a gluten-free cake doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It’s still cake. So eat in moderation, but better yet make your own gluten-free food to know exactly what’s going in it. Still be sure to check the ingredients label when you’re purchasing flours such as cauliflower flour, chickpea flours, and other alternatives so you can avoid unnecessary fillers.

5. Kids Snacks

Navigating the supermarket aisles, and identifying healthy snacks from sweets can be exhausting - especially trying to find a compact healthy alternative for your children. From string cheese to Duplo-sized energy bars (that cost more than a coffee) to cheesy crackers and cheerios, the list is exhausting, and reading every label can be too! While pre-packaged lunch items can be convenient, they more often than not are sugar-filled and void of much nutrition - not the ingredients for a great day of learning for young children. We believe it’s best to fill the lunch boxes with fruit, vegetables and a homemade savory that you can meal prep on weekends. 

As always, we encourage whole foods, homemade and we have so many recipes available through FMTV that are quick, healthy and tasty - for the whole family. Browse the FMTV recipe library here.