17 Health Food Myths: You Think They Are Healthy, But Aren’t

Do you eat a healthy diet?

Really think about that question for a minute. Is your diet really as healthy as you think it is? Unless you’re only eating fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats, and nothing from a box, then chances are the answer is no. Thanks to big food companies advertising their products as, “healthy,” a lot of people are extremely confused about what foods truly are nourishing. You may think you’re reaching for a healthy snack when in reality it’s loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, pesticides and other harmful toxins. We’re here to debunk the popular health myths and set the record straight. Check out these 17 foods many people think are healthy, but actually aren’t.

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1) Low-Fat, Reduced-Fat or Fat-Free Foods

When you’re walking down the aisles of your local grocery store, you will come across some foods labeled “low-fat” or “fat-free.” For someone trying to ditch those pesky pounds, these words are music to the ears. There’s only one problem. These low-fat foods are not a healthier option. In fact, these words are manufacturers trying to trick you. Foods labeled “low-fat,” “reduced-fat,” or “fat-free” are usually loaded with more sugar, sodium, and chemicals to enhance flavor. So while, yes, they don’t have as much fat in them, manufacturers are still loading that product up with harmful ingredients.

What To Eat Instead: The best thing you can do is to ditch processed foods altogether. Instead, reach for fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. 

2) Sugar-Free Foods

Another misleading label that tricks a lot of people is the “sugar-free” label. As more and more evidence rolls out against sugar, people are trying to cut back on the sweet stuff as much as possible. That doesn’t mean they are giving up their tasty treats, though. That’s why manufacturers are churning out sugar-free candies, puddings, and cookies. If you are someone who buys into the sugar-free labels, this may come as a shock — there is sugar in your sugar-free treats. Technically, a product can claim to be “sugar-free” if it has less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving. That small amount of sugar adds up, especially when you eat an entire bag of cookies. Fact: Many people eat larger amounts of a particular treat if they think it has less sugar or fat.

Additionally, just like with fat-free foods, manufacturers of sugar-free foods need to make up for lost taste. So often times your sugar-free treat is loaded with undesirable sodium.

What To Eat Instead: If you are craving something sweet, reach for a piece of fruit. If possible, go organic. This will ensure you aren’t loading up on pesticides, chemicals, and other dangerous toxins.

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3) Pre-made Smoothies & Juices

Drinking smoothies and fresh vegetable juice is the best thing you can do for your health. Not only are they delicious, but they are chock full of beneficial vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function properly. So why are smoothies and juices on this list? Well, homemade smoothies and juices are great. You can choose which ingredients are included and can monitor the amount of sugar that’s added. You can’t do that, however, with pre-made, store-bought smoothies and juices. Pre-made smoothies and juices may seem healthy, but they often have more calories than a fast food meal. They are typically loaded with sugars and syrups to enhance flavor.

What To Eat Instead: Swing by your local grocery store or farmers market, pick up some organic produce, and make your own smoothies and juices at home!

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4) Frozen Yogurt

A lot of people feel guilt-free after indulging in a delicious bowl of frozen yogurt, assuming it’s way healthier than ice cream. Why? Because it has the word yogurt in it? You may think frozen yogurt is loaded with probiotics since yogurt is considered a probiotic food. I’m sorry to break the news to you, but frozen yogurt is no healthier than ice cream.

First, let’s address the probiotic theory. Through processing, all active cultures are killed. So frozen yogurt is not considered a probiotic food and won’t help improve your digestive health. On the contrary, frozen yogurt is high in calories and loaded with sugar. In general, a half cup serving of fro-yo has around 25 grams of sugar. That’s not to mention all of the sugary and fatty toppings people love to load up on. As you may know, a diet high in sugar is linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, poor gut health, and a slew of other health problems.

What To Eat Instead: Live cultured, natural yogurt is loaded with beneficial probiotics. For this reason, it’s known to improve gut health and digestion. Note: I’m not talking about sugar-laden, flavored yogurts. Make sure you are buying a natural yogurt that contains live cultures. 

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5) Sports Drinks & Other Souped Up Drinks

Have you ever seen a bottled drink that says it’s loaded with vitamins or contains fiber? There are a lot of souped up drinks on the market today touting to boost your energy and improve your health. They certainly sound like they would benefit our bodies, don’t they? Well, the reality is, they can do more harm than good. Any drink with multiple ingredients usually contains some undesirable ones. In order to give you a pleasant flavor, they will typically have added calories in the form of simple sugars. If your drink is sweet but is labeled “0 calories” then you know the drink contains artificial sweeteners. While a lot of people think artificial sweeteners are a healthier option, they are far from it!

What To Drink Instead: Regular water is the best. However, if your taste buds need a little more stimulation, you can try detox water. Detox water is fruit/herb infused water that you can easily make at home. Detox waters have been known to improve digestion, aid weight loss, boost immunity, fight inflammation, and more.

Another great alternative is herbal tea – hot or cold. Did you know certain types of herbal tea actually promote weight loss? Researchers have found that teas not only aid weight loss, but they also promote heart health and can help you beat stress. 

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6) Bars

Energy bars, fiber bars, and protein bars — they all have a good reputation and most people feel like eating them does justice to their body. After all, they are loaded with fiber and protein, right? In reality, energy, fiber, and protein bars actually aren’t much different than a candy bar! While meal replacement and snack bars are advertised as “healthy,” they’re actually highly processed, high-calorie, loaded with sugar, and contain high fructose corn syrup.

What To Eat Instead: Snack on energy boosting organic fruits and vegetables. There are dozens of nourishing foods that can help boost your energy levels naturally.

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7) Farm Raised Fish

Fish is extremely healthy. It’s loaded with beneficial Omega 3 Fatty Acids that help improve our health in many ways, including:

  • Improves heart health
  • Reduces bad cholesterol levels
  • Fights diabetes
  • May fight depression
  • Promotes mental health
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces risk of cancer

The list goes on. While your plate full of fish may be considered healthier than a big juicy steak, if you’re buying farm raised fish, that isn’t the case.

In farmed raised fish the beneficial protein and omega fatty acids can by reduced by 50%. One problem with farm raised fish is they grow up eating genetically modified corn and soy feed. This GMOs feed is nothing like their natural diet. So when we ingest farm raised fish, we are also taking a big bite of toxic GMOs. Also, farmed fish have a high risk of disease and parasitic infestation. For this reason, they are loaded up on antibiotics that kill our good gut bacteria. 

What To Eat Instead: Wild caught fish. Alaskan salmon is a great choice since Alaskan fish aren’t allowed to be farmed. Other great wild caught fish options include sardines, anchovies, and herring. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, the closer a fish is to the bottom of the food chain, the less contamination it will have accumulated. 

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8) Dairy

There’s a bit of controversy surrounding dairy since most people believe it’s a great source of calcium. However, that’s being argued. Since dairy is an animal protein, it has an acidic effect on the body. When the body becomes too acidic, health suffers. So to balance out pH levels, your body turns to its natural acid blocker — calcium. It will draw calcium from your bones to fight the acid and return your body’s pH levels to a balanced state. So in other words, dairy actually takes calcium from your body.

Additionally, pasteurized dairy is full of antibiotics, chemicals, and pus.

What To Eat Instead: Rather than cow’s milk, switch to coconut or almond milk. These are extremely pleasant tasting options. There’s also milk derived from rice, oats, and hemp. If you’re a cheese lover, try eating a cheese that’s made from nuts.

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9) Frozen Dinners

The good ol’ frozen dinner. They’re super convenient and don’t taste half bad. Plus, there are many frozen dinners that are advertised as “healthy.” While they may be low in calorie, though, they are also low in nutrients. Plus, in order to give you a pleasant flavor, they are also usually packed with unwanted sodium. An overload of sodium is bad for the heart and leads to water retention. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say no one likes to feel bloated.

What To Eat Instead: Swing by your grocery store’s fresh produce section and whip up a fresh dinner in your kitchen. You don’t have to spend hours slaving over the stove to cook a healthy meal. 

Healthy Myths

10) Cold Cuts

Another convenient food is cold cuts — throw a few slices of deli meat on a sandwich and you’re good to go. Here’s the problem, though. Packaged meats are processed, contain toxic preservatives, and are high in sodium. In some brands, one 2-oz. serving contains nearly one-third of the maximum recommended daily sodium intake.

What To Eat Instead: Eat real, hormone-free, antibiotic-free meat.

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11) Agave Syrup

A lot of raw foodies and healthy eaters rave about agave syrup. It’s a super sweet syrup, about 1 1/2 times sweeter than sugar. Even though it has more calories than sugar, it’s a sweetener that’s often touted as “healthy.” Dr. Oz even backed highly-processed agave syrup in the beginning. On his website, he writes: “We used to think that because agave has a low-glycemic index and doesn’t spike your blood sugar like regular sugar does, it would be a good alternative for diabetics. But it turns out that although agave doesn’t contain a lot of glucose, it contains more fructose than any other common sweetener, including high-fructose corn syrup.” 

What To Eat Instead: Raw honey is a great natural sweetener that contains key vitamins and has positive effects on our health. Other natural sweeteners that are actually considered healthy include: Stevia, maple syrup, coconut sugar and blackstrap molasses. 

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12) Muffins

Aside from the traditional eggs and toast, a lot of people like something cakey for breakfast. For those people who like to start the day with something cakey, but are trying to eat healthy, they often times reach for a muffin over a donut. Perhaps, you reach for a fiber-rich bran muffin. After all, fiber is great for digestion. Here’s the problem — most packaged bran muffins sold in the grocery store have about 800 calories of pure sugar and fat. That’s even more calories than a traditional cake donut!

What To Eat Instead: It’s better to start your day off with protein. However if you must have something cakey, why not try making your own baked goods? That way you know exactly what they’re made of. 

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13) Creamy Vinaigrette Dressing

Eating a colorful salad for lunch is always a good idea. It’s loaded with nutrient-rich veggies that work wonders for our health and waistlines. Dumping a bunch of creamy dressing on your salad, though, is not a good idea. A lot of people mistakenly think creamy vinaigrette dressings are healthy. I’m guessing that’s probably because they sound like vinegar. However, vinegar and vinaigrette are not the same. Often times vinaigrettes contain sugar, thickeners (like cornstarch), sodium, preservatives, and even trans fat. Some even contain food coloring. All of these ingredients are on our 9 Most Dangerous Food Additives list. 

What To Eat Instead: Rather than using a pre-bottled dressing, opt for some cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar.

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14) Veggie Burgers

The new trend is to pass on hamburgers and opt for a veggie burger instead. While this can be a smart decision because some veggie burgers are both delicious and healthy, there are misleading manufacturers out there that are joining the health bandwagon. When it comes to veggie burgers, many are loaded with unhealthy fillers such as yeast extract, cornstarch, and gums. That’s why it’s extremely important to read ingredient labels. 

What To Eat Instead: You can still indulge in a juicy veggie burger, just make sure it’s a healthy one. When reading through the ingredient label, if the first few ingredients aren’t vegetables … RUN! The first few ingredients listed on the veggie burger label should always be vegetables! You should also try to avoid brands that use the fillers I mentioned above. 

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15) Trail Mix

Trail mix can be both a convenient and delicious snack. The problem is, most manufacturers dump a bunch of sugar on the fruit and salt on the nuts. This turns your healthy snack into a nutritional nightmare. 

What To Eat Instead: It’s simple to make your own trail mix. Just get some organic nuts and dried fruit, mix them together, and enjoy! 

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16) Granola

Many times, when people think of a healthy snack yogurt and granola come to mind. Granola cereals are also thought to be a healthy breakfast. It’s important to note that not all granolas are created equal. Often times, manufacturers load their granola up with sugar… lots and lots of sugar!

What To Eat Instead: If you are truly craving granola, then have some. Just make sure to read ingredient labels very closely. Rather than a granola sweetened with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, opt for a granola that’s sweetened with raw honey or raw maple syrup. You can get even healthier by making your own granola. There are a lot of healthy granola recipes out there and they’re super simple to make. Check out this video tutorial to create your own, homemade healthy granola: 

17) Diet Soda

This is one of the biggest health myths out there. So many people believe that diet soda is a healthier option than regular soda. The reality? They’re both horrible! In order to make diet soda sweet, manufacturers load it up with artificial sweeteners. Researchers link artificial sweeteners to metabolic syndrome, which can increase your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. That’s not to mention, diet soda is not good for your waistline. Studies show people who drink diet soda have larger waistlines than non-diet-soda drinkers. 

What to Drink Instead: Reach for water, whip up some fresh detox water, or brew a pot of fresh tea!

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So, now that you’ve read these 17 health myths, ask yourself: Is your diet as healthy as you thought?

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