Should businesses be banned from selling harmful products to improve …

  • I actually stumbled upon an article on this last month! Had to go through my history to dig that out 😛

    Turning Diet Into Lifestyle

    1. Muesli

    Many people make the move from consuming sugary cereals or fatty fried breakfasts to eating a portion of muesli in the mornings. This is no surprise, as muesli is often specifically marketed to the health-conscious crowd.

    You may be dismayed, however, to learn that the type of muesli that you can find in most stores is actually quite bad for your body if you are trying to shed fat or maintain a healthy weight.

    Specifically, muesli often provides as many as 500 calories per serving, has a high fat content, and contains an unacceptable amount of added sugar.

    2. Banana Chips

    Anything associated with fruits or vegetables will tend to get a reputation as a healthy food, and many dieters are in denial about the idea that any type of fruit could be bad for the body.

    Unfortunately, banana chips are made by deep frying bananas, which means that just one serving will contain a staggering 10g of saturated fat and at least 150 calories.

    This high saturated fat content will cause your cholesterol to spike, raising your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and potentially increasing the likelihood that you will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at some point in your lifetime.

    In addition, it is worth noting that banana coins contain fewer of the essential vitamins and minerals that can be found in a fresh banana.

    3. Tuna sushi

    Not all unhealthy foods are bad for you because they cause you to gain weight. Some are dangerous in other ways.

    Tuna sushi is a classic example of a seemingly healthy food that can be hazardous to your health in large doses.

    While sushi is compatible with trying to lose weight because it is relatively low in calories and fat, there is a hidden possibility of consuming an excess of mercury.

    The key to healthy tuna (or any fish caught in the wild) is to avoid eating more than six ounces of per week.

    You should also be aware of the fact that the sushi served in restaurants typically contains more mercury than the types that you can buy in stores. Eating out is almost never a better option than preparing a meal yourself and sushi is just one more example of this fact.

    If you do end up consuming too much mercury, you can develop mercury toxicity and may develop systems such as sleeplessness, weakness, poor memory, vomiting, high blood pressure, anxiety abdominal pain, and even hair loss. At worst, you could be at risk of sustaining permanent neurological damage.

    Pregnant women should be especially careful when it comes to tuna sushi, as there is a documented increase of disabilities in unborn babies whose mothers consume sources of mercury.

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    4. Energy Bars

    Unscrupulous or undereducated grocery store owners might deliberately put energy bars in the aisle reserved for foods that enhance weight loss.

    Energy bars are not for weight loss. These bars are also commonly featured in many health food stores, though they aren’t really health food.

    In reality, the average energy bar is anything but good for your waistline. They may even be worse than a candy bar when it comes to encouraging your body to store excess fat and calorie content.

    Most energy bars contain at least 500 calories, providing the same amount of calories as a small dinner or a large lunch. This is because they are designed to be meal replacements for active, on-the-go individuals.

    In spite of the huge amount of calories inside them, however, energy bars are often very small. This discrepancy in size leaves you feeling hungry again soon after eating one. So, you get a huge calorie load without feeling satiated.

    The major draw of the energy bar is its high protein content and load of nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium, and folate. Unfortunately, protein bars don’t contain all that many nutrients. Soy, which provides the protein in energy bars, does contain nutrients. Processing to make the bars, however, strips most of the nutrients from the soy, leaving just the protein. The problem gets worse though.

    Soy is high in fat. The fat is removed, when making energy bars, through the use of a chemical called hexane. Hexane, however is neurotoxic (damaging brain and nerve cells) and has come under scrutiny recently as an unacceptable mechanism for processing food.

    The use of hexane in protein bars is made all the more perplexing by the fact that sugar and salt are added, in vast quantity, to make these bars palatable. In short, whatever benefits were gained by removing the fat are negated by adding sugar.

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    5. Trail Mix

    Trail mix is a highly convenient snack and the fact that it typically contains plenty of nuts and dried fruit tends to create the impression that it is a healthy addition to your diet.

    Most trail mix products, however, often contain sugar-covered nuts, yogurt-coated raisins, corn syrup, and the aforementioned deep fried banana chips.

    As a result, just a couple of servings of trail mix could easily lead you to consume as many as 600 calories, a hefty amount of trans fats, and excessive amounts of refined sugars.

    If you eat trail mix on a regular basis, you may be horrified and confused the next time you step onto the scales. Fortunately, it is possible to locate and purchase healthy trail mix.

    Bypass the mixes that are full of candy, and look out for ones that are almost entirely comprised of nuts, with a couple of pieces of dark chocolate and some dried fruit thrown in.

    If you can’t find healthy trail mix in a store, you can make your own using a few key ingredients. Eating conservative portions of this type of trail mix is perfectly compatible with living a healthy lifestyle and keeping a trim figure.

    In the end, however, you are better off going without trail mix and eating its component ingredients separately. This will allow you to keep better track of overall calorie consumption.

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    6. Prepared Salads

    When you order a salad at a restaurant, you probably think that you are treating your body properly and showing remarkable restraint.

    Lamentably, while some salads are truly good for you, most of them can be just as bad as the burger you yearned to order the first place. What is worse, since they don’t fill you up, you’re likely to order that burger anyway.

    The most popular salads found in restaurants will often be drowned in extra fats and calories so that consumers will find them tastier.

    In many cases, these salads are particularly unhealthy due to the chef’s decision to add huge amounts of mayonnaise (which is high in both calories and fat).

    In addition, you may find that the meat isn’t as lean as you would like it to be and that there are fatty flakes of Parmesan cheese all over your greens.

    If you are concerned that a restaurant salad might not be healthy, ask your waiter about the ingredients. If you receive a vague answer or learn that your salad will be full of fat, it is better to order something else from the menu.

    Of course, an even better option is to make your own salad at home (using green vegetables, lean meat, delicious herbs, and a modest dressing with low fat and sugar content).

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    7. Light Yogurts

    Dieters often gravitate toward the low-fat yogurt shelf in the dairy section because the promise of reduced fat content implies that these yogurts will be helpful for those who want to lose weight.

    This isn’t true because the lack of fat tends to create yogurt that tastes bland.

    In an attempt to compensate, yogurt manufacturers will often choose to heap a lot of extra sugar into their products, creating a much more palatable yogurt at the cost of selling an unhealthy snack.

    The high sugar content can make these reduced-fat yogurts less healthy than a regular yogurt, so it pays to be particularly careful when choosing yogurts at the store. The ideal yogurt will contain low levels of fat and sugar, including enough of each to create an acceptable flavor but not so much of either that the yogurt becomes unhealthy.

    It should come as no surprise to those who keep up with food research that the artificial sweeteners in light foods may do more harm than good. Though reducing sugar intake is healthy, reducing intake by substituting in artificial sweeteners is not healthy.

    In addition to links between artificial sweeteners and conditions like stroke and depression, research is also finding that these products may increase appetite. Though the sweetener itself contains fewer calories than sugar, people who consume sweeteners tend to be hungrier and thus consume more calories over a day.

    The problems with light yogurt begin with the artificial sweeteners added to them, but that is not where they end. Other problems include the addition of modified corn starches, preservatives, and artificial colors. This may leave you with the impression that plain yogurt is the best alternative, which would be partly right.

    Plain yogurt is preferable to light or flavored yogurt, but it has its own drawbacks as well. If you do go with plain yogurt, you can add honey or vanilla to flavor it.

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    8. Gluten-Free Foods

    For those with Celiac Sprue, a disease in which the body develops antibodies against itself as a result of a protein in gluten, gluten-free foods are nothing short of a miracle.

    For the rest of us, gluten-free foods not only fail to provide a benefit, they also decrease our nutrient intake and thus do us a little bit of harm overall. If you don’t need gluten-free food, then don’t buy it.

    Gluten-free products are highly refined amalgams of grains and sugar, but they often do not contain whole grain because it is difficult to create gluten-free, great-tasting foods out of whole grain.

    That means that gluten-free bread is lower in fiber and natural B-vitamins than whole grain bread. It is also lower in antioxidant compounds known to combat everything from heart disease to cancer to the effects of aging.

    If you are not sensitive to gluten, there is no need to cut it from your diet. If you are sensitive to gluten, then look for products that list a whole grain as being among the ingredients. Brown rice flour is a popular whole grain that is gluten free.

    Other options include quinoa, buckwheat, and oats. Be careful with oats though if you are gluten sensitive as they are often contaminated with wheat during growing or processing.

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    9. Breakfast Cereal

    Breakfast cereal packages are constantly claiming that their contents are a good source of one vitamin or another.

    They are always touting a cereal’s benefits in fighting heart disease, and go out of their way to advertise the whole grain origins of their contents.

    The problem is, breakfast cereal really isn’t anything more than a processed grain with a panacea of synthetic vitamins and minerals added to it.

    The truth is that most breakfast cereals have little intrinsic nutritional value. The steps taken to create cereals are simply too damaging to vitamins, minerals, and fibers to leave much of the natural benefit of the grains intact.

    The only option for manufacturers is to add a synthetic multivitamin into the fray. Multivitamins, however, don’t deliver all of the same benefits as the real things. They are certainly safe to consume, but they aren’t as beneficial as their natural counterparts.

    All this talk of vitamins ignores the fact that cereals are usually high in sugar. The U.S. government, along with many others, does not have regulations that set daily allowances for sugar. Thus, the nutritional label won’t tell you how much of your daily allowance of sugar a cereal provides.

    The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 5 teaspoons, about 20 grams, of sugar per day. The average serving of cereal contains several grams of sugar (kid’s cereal contains more than adult cereal does), making up a huge portion, sometimes more than 50%, of what the AHA recommends for daily consumption.

    This is to say nothing about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Just skip the cereal if you can. Otherwise, look for one with very little sugar and no HFCS.

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    10. Sports Drinks

    One of the claims made about energy drinks or sports drinks is that they are “better than soda.” That is true, but it isn’t setting the bar very high.

    In truth, these drinks are high in sugar and contain a number of dyes and preservatives that have come under fire recently for their adverse health effects.

    Gatorade has recently said that it will remove brominated vegetable oil, a flavor and color enhancer, from its drinks after the ingredient was banned in Japan and Europe.

    The problem is, there are still dozens of other unhealthy ingredients in these drinks, including vast amounts of sugar.

    Dr. Oz states, simply, that if a product has “more than two ingredients, my advice is to skip it.” Energy drinks have literally dozens of ingredients and many of those, outside of water and vitamins, have either no health benefit or are detrimental to you health.

    As it turns out, the vitamins you get from these drinks aren’t doing you that much good anyway. You can get just as many vitamins by eating fruits and vegetables without all of the added ingredients.

    Keep in mind that sports drinks still contain citric acid, which can stain teeth and erode dentin. The sweeteners in these drinks have also been linked to increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Opt for water, coffee, tea, and any other drink that is simple in terms of ingredients.

    Photo credit: Bigstock

    11. Multigrain Products

    Whole grains actually are healthy for you, but the terms “multigrain” and “wheat” are used by manufacturers to advertise a number of products that don’t actually contain whole grains.

    The trick is to understand the difference between a whole grain and a refined grain. Whole grains contain all parts of the kernel (bran, endosperm, and germ).

    Products that contain whole grains are higher in fiber and vitamins than products that contain refined grains. Examples include whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.

    Refined grains, on the other hand, contain only the endosperm. By removing the bran and germ, refined grains will have finer texture and improved shelf life, but decreased nutritional value and less fiber.

    They may be labeled as “enriched” if nutrients are added back in to the mix after the processing step.

    To determine which you are getting, you have to read the ingredient list. Look for 100% whole wheat, oats, brown rice, etc. as the main ingredients. In addition, look to see if the ingredient list tells you if the product is using whole grains or not.

    Terms like stone-ground, seven-grain, multigrain, and bran are not regulated, so don’t trust them to mean that the product contains whole grain. Also, don’t trust color. It is easy to modify the color of a product to make it look like it is healthier than it is.

    Photo credit: Bigstock

    12. Smoothies

    Homemade smoothies are great. You can blend up any combination of vegetables and fruits you like and control how much sugar, if any, you add.

    You can also opt to go without sweetener, as the fruit is often sweet enough, or you may opt to use something like honey or agave nectar to flavor your drink.

    The bottom line regarding homemade smoothies is that you are in control of what goes into them. If homemade smoothies are healthy, are store-bought or pre-made smoothies just as healthy? Of course not.

    For one thing, these products contain fruit juice as well as fruit. Fruit juice has added sugar, which you don’t need, but it is hardly the most problematic addition to commercial smoothies.

    As it turns out, the average smoothy you get from a chain or franchise is no healthier than soda. Smoothies give you the same amount of sugar as four to six oranges, which is as much sugar as a large coke contains. Not only do you get a lot of calories this way, but liquid calories don’t register with our stomachs the way solid calories do.

    After eating two oranges, you are likely to be full for some time. After consuming six oranges in a smoothy, you are likely to be hungry again in a few hours. Liquid calories are deceptive and can lead to unexpected weight gain.

    Don’t forget that many smoothies contain things other than fruit. This includes powders, sweeteners, coloring agents, and more. Add that to the fact that some smoothies can contain up to 1,000 calories, fully half of the calorie intake of an adult male for an entire day, and it is easy to see why these “healthy” snacks aren’t so healthy after all.

    Photo credit: Bigstock

    13. Microwave Popcorn

    Popcorn is a low-calorie snack that is also filling. Unfortunately, microwave popcorn, the most convenient way to make this healthy snack, is really bad for you.

    The culprit, in this case, isn’t one of the big three (salt, sugar, and fat), but rather a chemical called diacetyl.

    Diacetyl is a natural product that, in combination with acetoin, gives butter is characteristic flavor.

    It is added to almost all artificial butters, including those used in microwave popcorn, to give them a “real-butter” taste. Diacetyl, though natural, can also be dangerous.

    To start, lots of natural products are dangerous, so it should come as no surprise that diacetyl is. More important, however, is the fact that diacetyl is safe when consumed orally, but dangerous when inhaled.

    It is for this reason that diacetyl is being removed from microwave popcorn. When the bag is heated, diacetyl is given off as harmful vapors. It’s safe in other products, so long as they aren’t heated to the point that diacetyl can be inhaled.

    Many microwave popcorn manufacturers are voluntarily removing diacetyl from their products. Unfortunately, new evidence is arising that the product used to coat the bags, something called perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, is also toxic. There is just no way to be certain that the preservatives and other additives in microwave popcorn are safe.

    Your best option is to make popcorn the old-fashioned way. Cook it in a pot with a little oil (preferably something like olive oil) and add only a little butter and salt (none of either if you can manage it).

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    14. Frozen Diet Entrees

    Frozen dinners are kind of the odd dish on this list because their sin isn’t added sugar or excess saturated fat.

    The problem with frozen dinners, particularly those designed to help you lose weight, is that they are high in salt (sodium).

    There are really only three ingredients that make processed food taste okay and they are salt, sugar, and fat. If you are reducing one, then you are getting more of another. It’s as simple as that.

    Frozen dinners have another secret problem that their manufacturers don’t want you to know about and that is the fact that they aren’t filling.

    Most people are never satisfied with one, and so they eat two or three. This pushes your sodium intake to well above the recommended daily allowance, but also pushes your calorie count up above what a standard meal would have contained.

    Frozen dinners are generally short on nutrients, having a limited number of vegetables and almost never including whole grains. When you eat one, you end up with a lot of salt, few vitamins, even fewer minerals, and a hunger that is not satisfied. Skip these meals entirely in favor of a home-cooked dish that doesn’t have any surprises waiting for you.

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    15. Muffins

    People eat muffins in an effort to be healthy. They look at these innocuous little baked goods as the perfect substitute for an unhealthy doughnut or bear claw.

    The problem is, many commercially-sold bran muffins contain roughly 400 calories and some peak at nearly 800.

    That is well above what the humble cake doughnut contains (anywhere from 170 to 390 (cream-filled versions) calories).

    Even the muffins you find at your local bakery contain somewhere between 340 and 630 calories, so they really aren’t any better.

    Muffins haven’t always been so unhealthy. Your grandmother’s muffins probably maxed out at around 160 calories. Then again, your grandmother’s muffins were only three inches in diameter and relatively short. Today’s muffins are five inches across and probably twice as tall as what your grandmother used to make.

    The average muffin today contains 11 to 27 grams of total fat, of which 2 to 8 grams are saturated fat. It also contains around 450 calories and nearly 40 grams of sugar. They just aren’t healthy.

    If you do eat muffins, choose smaller versions that contain fewer ingredients. The lemon cream cheese poppy seed muffin you get at the coffee chain is simply too high in fat, sugar, and calories to ever be considered healthy. The fewer the ingredients, the less places there are for fat and sugar to slip in unnoticed.

    16. Fat-Free… Anything

    Fat-free products are always deceiving because the term “fat-free” sounds like it also implies that the food is “calorie-free.” Of course, no food is completely devoid of calories (except water).

    The problem with foods that are labeled as “fat-free” is three-fold.

    First, there is a psychological effect to seeing a label that makes you think a food is nutritious.

    You feel as though you can eat more of that food, a problem worsened by the fact that these foods often aren’t very filling. The end result is increased calorie consumption.

    The second problem with “fat-free” foods is that the fat is usually replaced with sugar to make sure things taste good. Sugar is far worse for you than fat. It leads to diabetes and causes far more heart disease than fat ever has or could.

    The final problem with “fat-free” foods is that they often contain sweeteners, like aspartame, as a way to reduce sugar content. Unfortunately, sweeteners are no better for you than sugar and may, in fact, be worse. Using less sugar is the better option compared to replacing it with sweetener.

    The key with fat is to watch your consumption by curbing meat intake, limiting dairy, and focusing on eating fruits and vegetables. Most “fat-free” and “low-fat” products are gimmicks. They taste great only because they contain loads of salt and sugar. They just trade one vice for another, so skip them entirely.

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    17. Granola

    According to Dr. OZ, granola is one of the most insidious foods you can eat. This sounds weird given that the term “granola” is often used to describe a healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle.

    Like many health foods, the hype around granola is mostly marketing. The truth is far less glamorous.

    Most granola-based products would be better described as “sugar-based” products. In fact, most granola products have far more sugar than they do fiber.

    On top of the sugar, you can add a large amount of trans fat as well. Granola has both in abundance.

    Making the above problems worse is the fact that serving sizes for granola are small. Most people are not satisfied with the actual serving size, which is usually on the order of a half of a cup or less, and give themselves a whole lot more.

    A single bowl of granola (not including milk) can contain as many as 600 calories. That is fully one-third of what the average woman should consume in a day.

    If you have to eat granola, then choose the version that is highest in fiber and lowest in sugar. Be sure to stick to the portion size as well. The best option, if you just have to have granola, is to sprinkle a small amount of it over a bowl of unsweetened fruit.

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