10 "Healthy" Foods That Are Actually Destroying Your Body

by Kyle Tuttle

Piles of fresh vegetables
Image source: lymang

"Low fat".

"Sugar Free".

"No Salt Added".

Walk down any grocery store isle and you'll be bombarded with messages promoting the health benefits of everything from skim milk to diet soda. Marketers have taken the public's obsession with health and weight and used it to launch "healthy" versions of just about everything. Many grocery stores don't even offer whole milk any more.

But how good for you is all this "health food" really? You'd be surprised. Here's the top 10 culprits that are far more likely to harm than help:

  1. Yogurt — Natural, unsweetened yogurt (like the Greek variety) is good for you (good protein and calcium, boosts digestive health). It's that "fruit on the bottom" stuff that's terrible. Packed with corn syrup, you can easily consume well over 30 grams of sugar per six-ounce serving (not to mention the artery-clogging saturated fat in many of the richer varieties).

  2. Granola — Here's a breakfast cereal that's a great idea in theory - lots of nuts, grains and a little dried fruit. In practice, however, most granolas are loaded with processed sugar and corn syrup, not to mention trans-fats. Just read the ingredients and see how high sugar comes up on the list. It's usually pretty high. And forget about granola bars.

  3. Fruit juice — "100% Fruit Juice". "Natural Flavors". "No Sugar Added". The fact is: There's no need to add sugar when the original product packs more than enough to rot your teeth and give you type II diabetes if you drink it on a regular basis. Believe it or not, you're actually better off drinking diet soda than most fruit juices. Which leads us to...

  4. Diet Soda — Sure, you've lost the sugar and some of the calories, but you've traded that for potentially carcinogenic artificial sweeteners. Sort of like trading a punch in the face for a kick in the groin. Try sparkling water instead. Or have some milk.

  5. Tofu — Tofu is actually not that bad (and I personally love the stuff). But all soy products should be eaten in moderation, as excessive soy consumption has been shown to increase estrogen in males and has been linked to an increased breast cancer risk in females.

    It appears that infants and fetuses are particularly susceptible to the phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) in soy, raising concerns that soy has the potential to alter reproductive and hormonal development. Finally, some claim that unfermented soy contains a variety of toxic chemicals.

  6. Bran Muffins — Filling and delicious (and great to get you poopin') bran muffins are a quick and easy morning treat. But they're also often full of refined flour and processed sugar. These should be treated as the desert they are and eaten sparingly, not scarfed regularly for breakfast.

  7. Baked Beans — Beans are packed with fiber and protein and are usually a great health food. But when you start soaking them in a can of syrup that has as much sugar as many sodas, you've effectively wiped out most of the health benefits of nature's musical fruit. Stick with simple kidney beans; avoid the baked variety.

  8. Low-Fat Salad Dressings — Fat is what gives most food its "tasty" element. When that fat is taken out, the "tastiness" is usually replaced with lots of sugar (or those potentially cancerous artificial sweeteners we mentioned earlier). What's more, higher-fat salad dressing might actually be better for you, as many of the fat-soluble nutrients in the salad dressing are removed when the fat is taken out.

  9. Protein Bars — Loaded with protein and vitamins...and fat and sugar, protein bars are really a mixed bag. Okay for the occasional snack, they're really only one step up from a candy bar. You want high-quality protein? Eat eggs and lean meats.

  10. Fish — Health celebrities like Dr. Andrew Weil have long touted the health benefits of fish, and with good reason. Fish really does offer great protein, and the omega-3 fatty acids really do appear to offer a plethora of health benefits.

    But some fish also put you at an increased risk for methylmercury poisoning. In fact nearly all fish and shellfish contain some mercury contamination, with Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, and Tilefish sporting particularly high levels. Canned light tuna, for all the bad press it's received, is actually one of the lower-mercury foods. Still, all fish should be eaten in moderation, and pregnant women (or women who may become pregnant), nursing mothers, and young children should be especially careful.

Ever notice how every few years the media changes its story about eggs? First they're good for you, then they're cholesterol-laden killers, then they're good for you again, at least until they're bad for you once more.

Most of the foods on the list are kind of like that. They have good and bad parts, and eaten in moderation none are going to kill you. But beware the marketing hype. Remember, whenever advertising tells you something is healthy, they're trying to sell you something. Don't take it at face value.

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{ 10 comment… read it below or add one }

Kate March 17th, 2010
You are correct about much of this. It should be noted, though, that HOMEMADE bran muffins and granola are good for you! You can limit the sugar and use only natural honey or maple syrup instead of commercial sweeteners. Low-fat products are VERY BAD and not just because they're filled with sugar. We NEED fat, we don't absorb several vitamins well without it. And no, eating a high fat diet won't make you gain weight. On a "healthy" low-fat diet, I weighed 143 lbs. Now, on a high-fat diet (no sugar), I weigh 113. You do the math.
Kyle Tuttle March 17th, 2010
Great points, Kate. I've even heard some people say that the whole "low fat" fad has been one of the worst public health disasters of the past 50 years, for just the reasons you mentioned.
Erika Slater March 17th, 2010
You've uncovered a lot of myths in this article. I'm on a high protein low carb plan - hate to use word diet. Carbohydrates and not fat (the right type) are the scourge of our meals since people were encouraged to consume less meat and more carbs. That, and of course the food companies with HFCS and Trans Fat.
Gail from GrowMap March 18th, 2010
One thing you did not specifically mention that is especially dangerous is Aspartame. It is widely used in diet drinks, diet foods and turns up in places you would never suspect including high fiber breakfast cereals. Last time I looked it was an ingredient in High Fiber All Bran. Aspartame is a cumulative poison that causes serious symptoms including what looks like M.S. and it is addictive as anyone who knows a Diet Coke drinker who drinks it for breakfast should already know. It is number one on my list of substances to strictly avoid. At the very least limit your intake as I personally know someone who was hospitalized after pulling a very long schedule of working through the night and into the next day during which he drank diet drinks and coffee with sweetener in it to stay awake. He apparently exceeded the amount of Aspartame his body could handle.
Andrea March 20th, 2010
Great love it really clears up with most of the diet myth and takes a more realistic approach to most of the so calle 'wellness' foods. Unfortunately I have the feeling the food industry has the the louder voice so blogs and comments like this are vital to keep people informed and make them aware about the truth behind the label.
Candida Infection Remedy March 20th, 2010
How right you are. There are so many foods being toted as healthy and holistic but in reality they are not- such as dairy. What I find sad is that the prices for the truly healthy foods are much more costly than those which are not. Talk about mixed messages.
Mason March 21st, 2010
Nice points, Kyle! One biggie is: Anything made with high-fructose corn syrup, which these days, is almost anything that's been sweetened. HFCS started to appear widely in "food" products in the 1980s, and since the 1980s there has been an alarming rise in childhood (and adult) obesity and diabetes. People are starting to connect the dots and there is a growing body of scientific evidence that there is a direct link between HFCS and obesity and diabetes. I recently read Michael Pollan's "The Ominvore's Dilemma" which I highly recommend. It's a real eye-opener about the problems with corn by-products showing up in our food.
Deb Bixler April 2nd, 2010
Wow! You are so right. Stop looking for what is not in your food, fat free, sugar free, carb free, calorie free and more... But what is in it? Real food is what we want. Do not be tricked by the marketing department! I am including it in the healthy blog carnival at: http://www.BestBlogReview.com Everyone needs to read this. Thanks, Deb
Sam Montana April 4th, 2010
A very good list and important information. You really have to read the ingredients. I thought I was eating healthy until I read the ingredients of Yoplait, both hfcs and sugar. Now it is only real Greek yogurt (not yoplait Greek). The other day I just wanted to make some chile, even the chile beans had high fructose corn syrup in them. It has gotten ridiculous.
gerdie pogorevc April 13th, 2010
Hello and a great big THANKYOU to all for the wonderful information i have read on this blog. I will be alot more conscious of what is in the foods i buy { i have slipped over the years..} and finish the diet coke i have left and then swap over to soda water.... I think we all need to go back to basics where food is concerned, but this is a difficult thing to do in this busy dayand age we live in... Thankyou and keep the info coming.

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