The next time you plan on going on a diet, make sure to cut out these foods that may actually bring harm to your body instead.
#1: Gluten-free Products
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, only an estimated one per cent of the world’s population has coeliac disease, which causes gluten sensitivity, but somehow people have gotten the idea that gluten is bad. Despite popular belief, gluten-free products are not any healthier, lower in fat, calories, or carbs when compared to regular foods. Plus, it’s a real drag to avoid its sources including grains like wheat, barley, rye, spelt, farro, and oat— this means you’d have to watch for pastas, baked goods, gravies, soups, salad dressings, even soya sauce! Experts are warning against hopping on the gluten-free bandwagon, as it could mean missing out on valuable essential nutrients and fibre due to a limited diet. A report in Epidemiology also shared that you could be exposing yourself to more mercury and arsenic, commonly found in farming chemicals to grow rice, a popular ingredient in gluten-free products. Consider this before chewing on another bland, air-popped rice snack.
#2: Vegan Cheesecakes
If you’ve ever tucked into one of these creamy slices and wondered how they could be so delicious and healthy, they’re not. Though you’d be hard-pressed to find a health food blog that doesn’t feature a recipe for it or sing its praises, these “raw power bars” are really calorie and fat bombs that should be reserved for treats. Often made with nuts, stabilised with coconut oil, and sweetened with sugary dates or copious amounts of maple syrup (or honey if not vegan), each helping may be less processed than regular treats, but usually contains more than the recommended serving of nuts (about a palmful), and delivers unnecessary sugar that you’re going to have to burn off.
#3; Energy Balls
You knew we’d come after these, too, didn’t you? Sharing similar ingredients to vegan cheesecakes, these truffle-sized balls tend to also contain chopped pieces of dried fruit, seeds, and even chocolate chips. Small though they may be, each piece has about 100 calories (and that’s being conservative), and while they may have more nutrients and fibre than a candy bar, calorie-wise, you’re not getting away with anything.
Marketed as a health food with antibacterial properties, coconut’s proponents have been happily using it as cooking oil, adding it to vegan cheesecakes (more about that later), adding heaping spoonfuls into oatmeal, and using the cream in coffee. However, with studies noting that it increases bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride (fat) levels, it isn’t a surprise that experts have refrained from endorsing the ingredient. Besides, if you’re careful about avoiding butter, lard, and palm oil, can you really trust another fat that’s solid at room temperature? Save coconut for these cosmetic uses instead.
#5: Dried Fruit
After a bowl full of these tough bits, you’re nowhere near satisfied and you would have had more sugar and calories than if you ate the fresh fruit. Compare this: 100g of dried apple rings has about 250 calories and 53g of sugar, while 100g of fresh apple has about 85 calories and 10g of sugar. Also, some of the fruit’s nutrients are lost in the dehydration process. While having some fruit is better than none, you can’t beat the benefits of fresh produce in this case.
This story first appeared on www.shape.com.sg