By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
March 1, 2017
- Even the healthiest sounding foods come with risks
- How much hidden sugar are you eating every day?
- To Nutella… or not to Nutella
Some foods and beverages sound so healthy that it’s difficult to stop and think twice before purchasing them.
Vitamin water is a perfect example. What could be healthier than fresh water infused with antioxidant and energizing nutrients like vitamins A, E, C and the B’s?
Well, water and vitamins may be a healthy mix. But when you add fructose or processed sugar in large quantities, it severely restricts any health benefits you’ll get. And that’s exactly what vitamin water contains… a lot of added sugar.
You’ll get a dose of 16 grams of sugar for every 10 ounces you drink. If you’re a woman, that already amounts to well over half of your recommended added sugar intake per day. For men, it’s about 43% of the recommendations.
Here’s another great example.
Awhile back I had a patient who started drinking Arizona green tea with ginseng and honey, thinking it would help her recover more quickly from a minor cold.
When symptoms persisted, she called my office for some quick tips.
Of course, my first suggestion was to stop chugging down her new favorite drink.
You see, while it’s probably true that this beverage contains a touch of green tea, ginseng and honey, it’s unlikely you’ll get much of their ancient medicinal effects. That’s because this tea is really nothing more than “sugar water.”
The main ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. So for every eight ounces you drink, you get 17 grams of added sugar. Drink three or four glasses a day and you’re sure to end up on a sugar high… followed by a monster of a sugar crash.
In both of these cases, the product itself sounds so healthy that it makes it easy to forget to check the nutrition panel and ingredient list. It’s a mistake I see time after time.
But it’s not restricted to beverages.
How Much Sugar is hiding in Your “Healthy” Foods?
One of my biggest gripes when it comes to healthy-sounding foods is energy bars… protein bars… nutrition bars… whatever you want to call them.
They’re so convenient. And when you’re on the run it’s easy to grab one or two for breakfast or a snack, thinking you’re fueling your body with the energy and power it needs to get you through the day.
I’ll tell you this. If these snacks weren’t loaded with added sugar and salt, you wouldn’t be able to stomach them. They would taste like nothing more than a big block of cardboard… or worse. As it is, they’re little better than eating a candy bar.
Now I will admit. I’ve seen a few nutrition bars that are actually made from healthy and natural ingredients. But they are far and few between – especially if you’re looking for one that can excite your taste-buds.
So if these types of bars are a “go-to” snack for you, I recommend taking time to read the labels thoroughly and experiment with some of the healthier varieties.
To Nutella… or not to Nutella
There’s one healthy-sounding food that has me stumped. It’s been a staple in Europe for years, but is still relatively new to the U.S. And it’s taken America by storm.
I’m talking about the hazelnut spread called Nutella. It definitely sounds like a health food.
Tree nuts like the hazelnut are associated with all sorts of health benefits – from protecting your heart to boosting your brain power. The spread even contains cocoa, another food that’s linked to better heart and brain function.
So yes. The appeal is there.
Unfortunately, the first ingredient in this supposedly nutritious spread isn’t hazelnuts. It’s sugar. In fact, it’s estimated that Nutella contains close to 60% of sugar by weight. Just two tablespoons (and who eats just two?) contain 21 grams of added sugar.
This means that if you’re dunking your bananas and strawberries in this nutty spread, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. And if you’re eating it on toast, bagels or waffles you’ll be all the worse for it.
If I were to make a recommendation on the amount of added sugars that should be in your diet, (not just the natural sugars found in unprocessed food that you eat) the answer would be zero. Sugar has absolutely no nutritional value. All it does is make you fat, sick and weak by increasing your chances of weight gain, diabetes, heart attack, cancer, fatty liver and other health problems.
So don’t take healthy-sounding foods at face value. ALWAYS read the labels. And whenever possible choose fresh, natural, organic foods for your kitchen.
Afshin A, et al. Consumption of nuts and legumes and risk of incident ischemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):278-88.
Martinez-Lapiscina, et al. Mediterranean diet improves cognition: the PREDIMED-NAVARRA randomised trial. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2013.
Yang Q, et al. Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Apr;174(4):516-24.
Ouyang X, et al. Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. J Hepatol. 2008 Jun;48(6):993-9.
Port AM, et al. Fructose consumption and cancer: is there a connection? Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2012 Oct;19(5):367-74.