These days, grocery store shelves are packed with options for health-minded shoppers, offering everything from veggie chips and enriched waters to heart-healthy pastas and snacks enriched with super foods. Unfortunately, some of the most popular products haven't actually been shown to be healthy-and may actually do more harm than good.
Here are three foods and drinks that are not as healthy as you think.
1. Coconut Oil
While coconut oil is a plant-based fat, that doesn't make it any more healthy for your heart. Long prized for its subtle flavor and versatility, coconut oil has been promoted for the past few years as a health food, when the science is far from convincing.
As recently as July of this year, Harvard professor Karin Michels called coconut oil "pure poison," largely because of the way the natural fat impacts the body on a physiological level. Although many people online recommend coconut oil for everything from hair softening to weight loss, Michaels explains that coconut oil is higher in saturated fat than butter, which can lead to heart health problems.
In fact, coconut oil is about 80% saturated fat, which is higher than pure lard, butter, and even beef fat. When you eat saturated fat, your body reacts by raising LDL cholesterol, which is the type of cholesterol that leads to blocked arteries in the body. Additionally, coconut oil is composed of about 50% lauric acid, which increases inflammation throughout the body and exacerbating issues like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
While coconut oil is a must-have for Thai dishes and can be a delightful addition to stir fries, experts recommend treating this natural saturated fat just like any other treat - use it sparingly.
2. Diet Soda
Long promoted as a healthier alternative to full-sugar sodas, diet soda is beloved by anyone who wants a quick, caffeinated pick-me-up without all of the added calories. Unfortunately, diet sodas are so convincing that they can even trick your body into believing that they are the real thing.
While it is true that most diet sodas are free of real sugar, they typically contain sugar substitutes and sweeteners like sucralose and acesulfame potassium. Because these compounds make soda taste sweet, researchers have found that diet sodas can still spark the release of insulin, since your body thinks it is consuming sugar.
In fact, in studies that focused on metabolism, researchers discovered that people who consumed diet sodas had increased insulin levels when compared to people who just drank plain water. Since insulin is the hormone that promotes weight gain, enjoying diet soda could hamper your weight loss efforts.
3. Multigrain Bread
Since white breads are packed with simple starches that increase blood sugar, many dieters opt for multigrain bread. However, there is a big difference between multi-grain bread and whole grain bread, and choosing the latter is the only way to enjoy the full benefits of those healthy ingredients.
While multi-grain cereals, breads, and pastas contain several varieties of grains, those plant fibers may have been processed to remove the beneficial germ of the grain, reducing health benefits. When the germ of the grains is removed, multi-grain bread becomes nothing more than brown white bread.
On the other hand, whole-grain products, or foods that contain whole, visible pieces of oats, flaxseeds, and wheat grains, have been shown to lower blood pressure, provide B vitamins, and promote weight loss by keeping people more full.
Creating a personal nutrition and diet plan is something you should do with your medical provider, so make an appointment today with us here at Basin Family Care, Inc. Our doctors been helping patients with everything from well checks to weight loss for years, and we look forward to helping you and your family. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you.