With more than half of the US population overweight and more people focused on their health, it’s no surprise that food and beverage companies are trying to cash in and create “better for you foods”.  They will take any health scare, diet craze or food trend and create foods that are all marketing, no substance.  But as my friend Drew says, “you can slap lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig”.

Agave Nectar – Amazing marketing hype!  Just when sugar was at the peak of bad press, rightfully so, a “natural” sweetener that is “better” than sugar arrives; Agave!  But most agave nectars sold in stores, that are even labeled as organic, natural or Blue have more fructose than high fructose corn syrup.  And like high fructose corn syrup, it has no nutritional value and is in calories and is more processed than table sugar.  I like this article at organiclifestyle.com on agave nectar if you want to know how it is processed.   Though it also is high in fructose, I suggest using organic, raw, local honey.  It also has antioxidants, flavanoids and regulates blood sugar.

Reduced Fat Peanut Butter – Reduced fat peanut butter is actually worse for you than the regular peanut butter, which isn’t great either.  Reduced fat peanut butter does have slightly less fat and has a whopping 10 fewer calories than it’s regular counterpart, but they’ve replaced the healthy fats and oils of the peanuts with maltodextrin, a carb filler.  So not only does it have empty carbs but it also has double the sugar.  Go for the all natural organic peanut or other nut butters.  I love Justin’s, though it does have a little organic palm fruit oil.  There are other natural nut butters that are only nuts and salt.

Fat Free Salad Dressing – These dressings and other fat free foods began to flood the market when we were all told that fat was bad!  But when you take out the fat you have to replace it with something; these dressings replace the fat with a ton of sugar, high fructose corn syrup or other engineered chemicals to try and fake the fat.  They can also be very high in sodium.  Using fat-free dressings may also prevent your body from absorbing the nutrients from the vegetables in the salad.  Make your own salad dressing out of pure ingredients like balsamic vinegar, olive oil, citrus and fresh herbs.  Make them creamy using Tahini paste, Greek yogurt or avocado.  Don’t be afraid of healthy fats; they are good for you in small quantities.
Enhanced or Vitamin Water – This stuff is loaded with sugar, up to 33grams per bottle, and other artificial additives like citric acid and crystalline.  Crystalline fructose is a sweetener that has shown so far to be safe, but new concerns are questioning the link to hepatoxicity, or chemical liver damage.  Vitamin water is typically not too bad in calories, usually 50 calories per serving, but why drink unnecessary calories?  Oh wait, but there are vitamins!  Don’t get too excited, you can get what you need from a pure glass of water and a daily multivitamin or a balanced diet.

Baked Chips – Marketers love to tout the word “baked”, it means healthy right?  Baked chips do have (slightly) fewer calories and fat than fried chips but that doesn’t make up for more than twice the sodium and three times more acrylamides.  Acrylamides are cancer-causing chemicals that forms when high-carb foods, like potatoes, are heated to high temperatures.  So ditch the potato chips and go with terra chips, tortilla chips, sun chips or 100% whole grain chips.

Keep an eye out for more so called "healthy" foods in my future blogs....

Best Wishes!


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